Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Reflection on Our Mock Election

In a September blog post, I described a collaborative project involving all four sections of tenth grade American Government at our school.  The project would be created from the ground up by four teams in each class:

1) An Election News Feed team which will provide up-to-date election news.

2) A Michigan Election Information Team which will research the candidates and issues.

3) A Fantasy Presidential Campaign Team which will launch an imaginary candidate's quest for the White House.

4) A Mock Election Team which will devise a school mock election from scratch.

An then there was "the wildest feature":
The project teams will be linked to their counterparts in the other three classes and must collaborate online to construct one central project.

The results were rather interesting:

*The single most impressive feature of the project was the creation and administration of the election itself.  The process ran smoothly from beginning to end, and remarkably, the school results were identical to the state-wide general election that took place the same day.

*The fantasy candidacies generated the most excitement and energy, but frankly remained at a superficial level.  Instead of focusing on issues, talking points, or even slogans; the contest focused on biography and looks.

*The wikis were pretty poor.  I blame myself for forcing the students to figure out how to communicate among the four sections in order to coordinate wiki construction.  This prevented the groups from making much progress until the end.  Still, the students in some cases, remained passive and contented to be rather clueless.

*The in-class presentations were quite good.  We avoided death by PowerPoint, and were treated to information about the election as well as serious reflection about the project process itself.  Most of the groups hit all of the criteria laid out in my Election Ten Commandments.

Once again, I bit off a bit more than I could chew by including too many innovations with one venture, but I am confident that the election made a great impression on the kids.  We had lots of fun learning about politics.

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