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November 4, 2020

Student Reporting Labs: Michigan teens on pins and needles before state called

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Directions: Read the summary, watch the video and answer the discussion questions below. 

Summary: High school students Abbey Leneway, Micah Martin and Carlos McWhorter from F.V. Pankow Center in Clinton Township, Michigan, discuss their fear and nerves surrounding Michigan’s outcome in the presidential election with NewsHour’s Student Reporting Lab’s youth media producer Briget Ganske.

  • Michigan is a swing state which means the state has swung in favor of both political parties in different presidential elections. On Wednesday, Michigan went to Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
  • The students said they didn’t realize how split Michigan was politically, especially between the Detroit area, a very Democratic-leaning area, and most other areas in Michigan.
  • The students’ teacher, Michael Kaufman, entered the conversation, and said all of his students are trying to figure out which states each candidate needs to win.
  • The students said they’re still clueless even though everyone has voted, and nothing has brought them certainty in Michigan yet. 

Discussion questions: 

Warm up questions: Have your students identify the 5Ws and an H:

  • Who won Michigan?
  • What way did Michigan vote in the 2016 election?
  • Where in Michigan is it more Democratic?
  • When did we find out about the outcome in Michigan?
  • Why is Michigan considered a swing state?
  • How are these students feeling about the outcome of their state in this election?

Then have students share with the class or through a Learning Management System (LMS).

Focus questions:

  1. How does the Detroit area and mail-in ballots help the Democratic party?
  2. Why do you think Michigan switched from red to blue today?
  3. Do you think states should be able to count votes after midnight on Election Day?
  4. How do you feel about the way your state voted or is looking now?

Media literacy: Many different news outlets are covering the presidential election each with their own biases. Some news outlets appeal to more conservative voters and others to more liberal voters. Do you think it’s important to watch multiple news outlets, or can you just stick to the one you generally agree with?

Dig Deeper: 

  1. Look at this lesson plan from a conversation with Gen Z, and different ways to think about and approach this election from a youth perspective. 
  2. For more general information on the day after Election Day, look at this lesson plan. 
  3. Play these Kahoots to learn more about the nature of Election 2020 in a fun way!

By Rebecca Shaid, EXTRA’s intern, and Victoria Pasquantonio, NewsHour education producer


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