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the choice 2004



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Discussion Questions

Featured Lesson Plan
  • Political Parties in Campaign 2004
  • Student Handout: What Do You Know About Political Parties in Campaign 2004?
  • Student Handout: Checking Your Answers
  • Student Handout: Democrats and Republicans


  • Additional Lesson Ideas
  • Candidate Character Traits
  • Candidate Character Traits and Campaign Messages
  • Analyzing Campaign Web Sites
  • Exploring Political Action Groups
  • The Youth Vote


  • Internet Resources

    Printable .pdf of Entire Guide
    (Adobe Acrobat required)

    » About the Film:

    As Americans prepare to choose their next president, FRONTLINE offers viewers a special, two-hour dual biography of the two candidates who hope to lead the nation for the next four years. The fifth installment in FRONTLINE's continuing election series pairs filmmaker Martin Smith and correspondent Nicholas Lemann, who go beyond sound bites and political rhetoric to explore how the candidates and their values have been shaped by family background, history, victory, and defeat. By eschewing political pundits in favor of insightful comments from friends, families, colleagues, political adversaries and top journalists who have incisively reported on the candidates, "The Choice 2004" offers viewers -- and voters -- a chance to see the candidates in a fresh light before the campaign reaches its climax on Election Day.

    » Watching the Film:

    Ideally, teachers will assign the film for viewing as homework or show the film in class. Suggested discussion questions are provided. The lessons and activities in this guide can be used in the classroom regardless of whether or not the film is viewed.

    » A Note to Teachers:

    For classes in Social Studies, Language Arts, Current Events, and History; Grade level 9th-12th

    "The Choice 2004" is a comprehensive FRONTLINE biography studying the character, experience and worldviews of incumbent George W. Bush and challenger John F. Kerry. These teaching activities are designed to help students become more familiar with the candidates in the 2004 presidential contest and to explore the political cultures that shaped their careers and support their candidacies.

    » Discussion Questions:

    A list of questions for the class to discuss after viewing the film.

    » Featured Lesson Plan:

    Political Parties in Campaign 2004
    Students will become more familiar with:

    • the partisan affiliations of George W. Bush and John F. Kerry;
    • the political parties in campaign 2004; and
    • where each party stands on important issues of the 2004 campaign.

    » Additional Lesson Ideas:

    Candidate Character Traits
    Students will consider and compare "ideal" presidential character traits.

    Candidate Character Traits and Campaign Messages
    Students will learn more about how candidate character traits are marketed in campaign messages.

    Analyzing Campaign Web Sites
    Students will use media literacy skills to analyze and critique campaign Web sites.

    Exploring Political Action Groups
    Students will research political action groups and consider their impact on the 2004 presidential campaign.

    The Youth Vote
    Students will explore:

    • how their voting behavior can make a difference in electoral politics; and
    • the unprecedented number of movements and organizations working to involve young Americans in the electoral process.

    » Purchasing the Film:

    "The Choice 2004" can be purchased from Shop PBS for Teachers. Also, teachers and students can watch the film streamed in its entirety on FRONTLINE's Web site.

    » Credits

    This teacher's guide was developed by Simone Bloom Nathan of Media Education Consultants. It was written by Dr. Sharon E. Jarvis of the University of Texas at Austin and the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Participation. Advisers were Ellen Greenblatt of University High School San Francisco, Greg Timmons, executive director, The Constitution Project, and Patricia Grimmer of Carbondale High School, Carbondale, Illinois.

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