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Help Students Explore Election Issues, Not Election Hype

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Teaching Election 2020 may feel like the rest of 2020: complex, hard to predict and packed with teachable moments. Whether your students are preparing to vote for the first time, already engaged in civic activities or are still figuring out where they stand, KQED’s Above the Noise breaks down multiple perspectives around election issues. A video series designed to cut through the hype was never so needed.  

As they learn about the issues, students can also discuss their views in a variety of media formats with fellow students across the country on KQED Learn, a safe online space for middle and high school students.

Students from around the country are split

In fact, the discussion on KQED Learn around Should the Voting Age Be Lowered to 16? might surprise you. Students from across the country are split about whether their peers are ready to step into the voting booth at 16. And in light of the protests sweeping the country, how would your students respond to How Can We Get More Young People to Vote?  

This election cycle has demonstrated how important it is for students to understand the mechanics around our election process. The video How Does the Practice of Gerrymandering Make You Feel About Voting in the Future? analyzes historic and current gerrymandering tactics. Students also draw on history to unpack the drama of election night in The Electoral College: Why Such a Big Debate? 

Addressing critical issues students care about 

We know students care about complex issues like gun laws, healthcare, immigration and climate change. Above the Noise videos, like those listed below, help students encounter multiple perspectives and build evidence-based arguments to support their views. Each video also comes with sentence frames, a lesson plan, student viewing guide, glossary, and English and Spanish transcripts to support remote, blended or in-person learning. 

Here is a sampling of the Above the Noise Videos: 

Ensuring that student voices are heard 

After students explore election issues, the next step is making their voices heard beyond the classroom. KQED’s Youth Media Challenge: Let’s Talk About Election 2020 asks students to create an audio or video commentary on an issue that matters to them, then publish it on the KQED Learn showcase. Students from across the country have already started sharing their voices. Their already published commentaries are mentor texts that can inspire you and your students. 

Early voting is on now in many states and the election will be center stage until November. As you support your students in building strong habits of civic action and participation, Above the Noise, KQED Learn and PBS LearningMedia are here to help. 

Looking for more election-related resources? PBS LearningMedia has curated free, standards-aligned videos, interactives, lesson plans and more. 

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The original can be found on KQED.

Rachel Roberson

Rachel Roberson KQED Program Manager

As KQED’s program manager for humanities professional learning, Rachel supports educators in integrating video storytelling, audio podcasts and other media literacy skills into their teaching practice.  Rachel was a founding English teacher and assistant principal of KIPP Bayview Academy in San Francisco and has taught middle school English, ELD and social studies in Austin, Texas, and internationally. Before becoming a teacher, she was a newspaper reporter in the Bay Area.

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