Election Week Weekly Issue 3: The Game Plan

Creating Curriculum for Real Conversations

Our goal at Leadership+Design is for this program to create conversations between students on topics that maybe they haven't openly talked about before. Teaching students the benefits of being politically knowledgeable and active is increasingly important in today's world and we want to be able to help you and other educators on this journey.

So to be transparent, we're laying out our "Game Plan" of weekly topics for the Design For Election Week curriculum. The curriculum can be followed as rigidly or loosely as you like, and is flexible to be taught in whatever order suits your situation best, though the discussions on the Slack network will most likely follow the pattern we set. We are still iterating, and specific topics may presented in early or later weeks. But this Spark should give you a general sense of the materials.

Weeks 1 & 2: Lead Up to the First Debate

Week of September 21st

For the first week, we're starting by introducing the topic of Empathy and seeing someone else's perspective, as well as the issue of Voting Registration.

  • Welcome Video
  • Setting Norms and Protocols for Conversations
  • Opening Empathy Builder
  • What is Empathy Video
  • Empathy Interviews
  • Pre-registering and registering to vote:
  • Helping others to register
  • Mail in ballots

Week of September 28th

For the second week, the big event is the First Presidential Debate, so we'll have some pre-debate information and some post-debate analysis, with different activities. Because we know that surfacing issues and watching debates can be heated, we'll introduce some tactics on how to defuse emotions and then opportunities to explore them. We'll talk about how to ensure that the dignity and value of every student is honored but that "Brave Spaces" can be emotionally charged.

  • What are your top issues?
  • "What if ______________" happens with my group of students? Handout and Video
  • The First Debate
  • Debate Watching Activity - Debate Bingo
  • Debate Debrief: Principles or Personalities
  • Debate Meme Share
  • Media Coverage of the Debates

Weeks 3 & 4: Exploring Media Bias and the Second Debate

Week of October 5th

For Week 3, we're diving deep into Media bias, and how the different media students are consuming may affecting their frameworks of the world. We're also going to cover a topic that students are all too familiar with: Social Media.

  • Media and Social Media
  • Where do you get your information?
  • Media Bias Chart
  • News, Opinion, Propaganda - how to spot each of these in the media
  • What to do when students bring in unsubstantiated claims or introduces factually incorrect assertions into a conversation.
  • Social Media: How is social media different than traditional media?
  • Deconstructing "Mean Tweets"
  • Foreign interference in elections and what it looks like.

Week of October 12th

For Week 4, it's time for the Second Debate, and we'll go deeper to explore how issues important to your students are relating to what the candidates are saying. We'll also combine the media bias lesson to see how the media analysis of the debate affects their coverage of the event.

  • The Second Debate
  • Fact Checking Debates
  • The Candidates on Issues - what are they saying about an issue you care about? Read up on both candidates platforms on their website.
  • What is different about this debate?
  • Who performed better - why?

Weeks 5 & 6: What's On the Ballot, Voting, and the Electoral College

Week of October 19th

This week we're looking local, and seeing what else is on the ballot besides the Presidential Race. A big focus this week is the looking at how students can make change on a smaller, but still important level. We'll also look at how voting works, which this year has become an increasingly interesting topic.

  • What do students need to know about voting - even if they can't vote themselves.
  • Navigating the ballot - what does it look like, what is on it and how do you fill it out?
  • Local issues and other races that will also be on local ballots.
  • Who votes and who doesn’t and why and what does "voter suppression" mean.
  • How to help a prospective but hesitant voter.
  • Music, Art and Theater: Public Enemy, Hamilton, The Chicks, Bruce Springsteen, Willie Nelson, Shepard Fairey, Norman Rockwell, - music and other art forms can inspire us to get politically active and also offer different perspectives of equity in our democracy.

Week of October 26th

In the lead-up to Election Week we'll get into the electoral college, its history, how it works, and its benefits and drawbacks. We'll also cover the final debate, and in a wrap up project have students research specific issues important to them to have conversations with peers, being willing to listen and learn.

  • The Electoral College
  • The Third Debate - How might the candidates be targeting specific swing states in this final debate? What states (and issues) matter most in this final debate?
  • How have candidates done on the issues students care most about? Have they changed their approach?
  • Issues Exchanges - Opportunities for students to do "teach ins" about the issues they care most about and share with one another what they have learned.


It's the big week and it's the Election Squad's time to shine! They can host a mock election or throw a party in celebration of our democratic republic. After all this listening and learning its definitely time to

This week is less about the polarization of politics, and more focused on the importance of people having a say in how they are governed. As John Lewis said in his final New York Times Op-ed, "The vote is the most powerful non-violent change agent you can have in a democratic society." Students might share politicians, activists, historians or artists that have inspired them to want to exercise the right to vote.

When it ultimately comes to the results of the Election, there will no doubt be a big reaction, no matter what the outcome is. Remind student to use the empathetic thinking skills they've learned over the past 6 weeks and also acknowledge that no matter how they personally feel about the final result the outcome is the choice the American People have made.


If you have questions about putting together your election squad you can post them in the Election Week Discourse Slack (which you have access to when you register for the program). We can respond OR you can get ideas and suggestions from other educators around the country,

(If you haven't already done it!)

Build empathy. Stoke civic engagement. Celebrate our democratic republic.

Created By
Carla Silver


Created with images by Taylor Wilcox - "Fifth graders in their classroom at school" • John Schnobrich - "together now" • NeONBRAND - "untitled image" • Camylla Battani - "untitled image" • Jon Tyson - "untitled image"