Election/Civics Resources


Understanding how to access, analyze, evaluate, create and act using all forms of media are essential skills for full participation in 21st century democracy. A recent article written by Abby Kiesa, CIRCLE’s Director of Impact; and D.C. Vito, Co-founder and Executive Director of The LAMP, highlights the connection between civic education and media literacy. They argue for a youth-centered, participatory approach to teaching this vital civic skill saying,  “Unifying media literacy and civic engagement reinforces the reality that civic media and information about public issues exists for a purpose: expression, discussion, and informed action.”

We hope the below list of resources can help enhance your efforts to connect civics and media literacy in your classroom. If you have resources you have created or you want to share, please contact us at namle@namle.net so we can add them to this resource list.

Lesson Plans/Curriculum

Edutopia’s Election Projects Get Students Critically Engaged: This includes a few ideas for getting students more involved with elections.

Kid Voting USA: Elections and civics lesson plans broken down by grade level (free downloads with registration).

iCivics: iCivics has a plethora of curriculum sets and fun interactive activities relating to elections and civics for all grade levels (free with registration).

Media Smarts- election related lesson plans: Media smarts has tons of good resources. Here are some lesson plans relating to watching elections.

NEA’s Elections Resources: The National Education Association has compiled a list of teacher resources just in time for election season.

NewseumEd- Decoding Elections: A collection of activities to be used in the classroom, which help to decode campaign messages, and provide historical context for students, just to name a few.

PBS Learning Media’s Election Central: An educational guide to the U.S. Elections, and includes news, lesson plans, interactive activities, historical background information and more.

PBS: Helping kids understand the election: A guide for parents (or teachers) for how to discuss elections.

Project Look Sharp’s Media Construction of Presidential Campaigns: A free kit for educators, which teaches about the role of media in presidential elections ranging from 1800 until present. Primary sources and lesson plans included.

Teaching Democracy: A Media Literacy Approach: A Project of the Japanese American National Museum Developed and Written by Jeff Share, Ph.D. and Elizabeth Thoman, Founder, Center for Media Literacy, this PDF helps educators explore real-life issues of democracy and justice with their students.

Teaching for Democracy Alliance: A site focused on strengthening student learning about elections and informed voting. They have a collection of election activity resources, as well as upcoming webinars.

Vote Smart: This has free activities and resources for grades K-12. It includes lessons about voter registration, campaign financing and more.

We are Teachers Blog: Teach Politics in Class and Live to Tell About It: This blog provides teaching tips and strategies for teaching politics and elections. It includes critiquing televised debates, holding classroom elections and more.

2018 Midterm Elections Resources

NAMLE and the National Speech and Debate Association partnered on this resource: Election 2018: Every Teacher’s Guide to Debate, Media and Speech in the Classroom

270 to win: An interactive website that breaks down the upcoming 2018 midterm elections by race (senate, house, governor), by state, and the 2020 presidential election.

2018 Election Calendar and Results: This website regularly updates results related to the 2018 midterm elections from the New York Times.

CIRCLE (Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement): CIRCLE “conducts research on the civic and political engagement of young Americans”; with a focus on the 2018 elections.

FiveThirtyEight: Articles relating to the 2018 midterms.

FiveThirtyEight Podcast: A podcast relating to the 2018 midterms.

KQED: 2018 election articles and coverage relating to California.

States in Play Series: From the New York Times, this site has a collection of articles as well as interactive forecasts relating to the upcoming 2018 midterm elections.

Wesleyan Media Project: “TV Ad Volume Nearly Doubles Over Prior Midterm Cycle” article, which compares spending in 2018 to the last midterm cycle.

Political Ads

Decoding Political Ads: This breaks down political ads in swing states, and provides critical thinking questions for students and possible lesson plans for teachers.

I Agree To See: political ads for the upcoming 2018 midterm elections.

The Living Room Candidate: From the Museum of the Moving Image in NYC, this site is home to a huge collection of presidential campaign commercials from 1952-2016.

Other Resources

22×20: A national campaign that supports the engagement of media literate new voters.

BBC News: How do US elections stack up to others around the world?: A short video that compares political campaigns in the USA to those around the world.

Crash Course: videos about election-related material (high school)

Five Ways to Survive Political News Coverage: A blog post with helpful reminders about media bias and the news coverage of the current presidential election.

News Literacy Project: A site dedicated to help educators teach middle and high school students how to sort “fact from fiction in the digital age”.

NPR Politics: There’s More To It: political news from NPR. Includes fact-checking, and the breakdown of key issues.

Politifact: An independent website dedicated to fact checking, students and educators can narrow searches by candidate and state, or look for specific statements with the “truth-o-meter”, and read news articles related to the midterm elections and politics in general.

ProCon.org: Search through over 50 controversial issues for nonpartisan information and civic education.

For Reference: 2016 Presidential Elections Resources

15 Great Digital Media Projects for the Presidential Election Season: Products mentioned include: iCivics, Letters to the Next President, StoryCorps, TED-Ed Lessons, I Side With, the PEW Research Center, Poll Everywhere, the California Secretary of State, the LA County Registrar’s Office, PBS LearningMedia, Blogger, and WordPress.

An Extremely Detailed Map of the 2016 (new!): From the New York Times, this interactive website allows users to explore the map of how the USA voted in the 2016 presidential election.

C-SPAN Classroom Campaign 2016: Take students on the road to the White House, as C-SPAN a multitude of lessons for 10 units, including meeting the presidential candidates, political parties, the electoral college, and voting.

Edutopia’s Election 2016 Resources: This includes a list of lesson plans and digital resources for educators to use in their classrooms.

Letters 2 the Next President, National Initiative from the National Writing Project: This project encourages students to write letters based on issues that matter the most to them.

Media Literacy- How to Watch the Debates: this article breaks down the presidential debates for middle school students. It provides key information about the debates, activity ideas and critical thinking questions for students.

Newsomatic: A newspaper for kids with a focus on the North American continent. Subscription required for parents or teachers (free trial available).

NY Times- The Ad Campaign: By Nick Corasanti, it breaks down the messaging powering the 2016 presidential election.

NY Times Learning Channel’s Election 2016 Blog: This blog is dedicated to providing teachers with lessons based on the current presidential campaigns.

PBS- 2016 Campaign Connection: A culmination of PBS and NPR resources- a slew of information!

ProCon.org – 2016 Presidential Election: The Candidates and Where They Stand on the Issues: Provides a detailed breakdown of each presidential candidate and their stance on a variety of issues.

Teaching Tolerance: this informative magazine has a variety election 2016 resources for all ages.