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The Electoral College: Is it a Reflection of the Republic or a Relic of the Revolution?. The Students Decide!. A PBL Project for Sixth Grade Social Studies. Begin With the End in Mind.

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A PBL Project for Sixth Grade Social Studies

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A pbl project for sixth grade social studies l.jpg

The Electoral College:Is it a Reflection of the Republic or a Relic of the Revolution?

The Students Decide!

A PBL Project


Sixth Grade Social Studies

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Begin With the End in Mind

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Social Studies Standardsfrom theArchdiocesan Curriculum Framework

The student will:

  • Summarize the main points in constitutional documents (6.14.09)

  • Explain the roles of citizens in choosing leaders in the United States (6.14.10)

  • Recognize the difference between fact and opinion and the importance of facts in the study of history (6.16.04)

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Literacy Outcomesbased onthe Archdiocesan Curriculum Framework Standards

The student will:

  • Compose a multi-paragraph piece which presents one position on an issue that offers sufficient support (6.03.17)

  • Arrange information in an orderly manner (e.g., outlining, sequencing, graphic organizers) (6.05.05)

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Key Skills

  • Make data-based predictions

  • Categorize and analyze

  • Craft messages and use

    media effectively

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Habits of Mind


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School-wide Outcomes

Use rubrics for evaluating writing

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Craftthe Driving Question

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Should the Constitution be amended to eliminate the Electoral College?

  • Has provoked debate

  • Is open-ended

  • Goes to the heart of the study of government

  • Is challenging – there is no simple answer

  • Is based on a real world dilemma

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Unpacking the Driving Question

  • How is the President elected according to the Constitution?

  • Why did the Constitutional Convention create the elector process rather than base the election on a direct vote?

  • How does the Electoral College function in practice?

  • How will/did it decide this year's election?

  • In what elections did the result of the electoral vote differ from the results of the popular vote? Did those election years have anything else in common?

  • Why is the Electoral College controversial?

  • Who are some of the "experts" who support changing the voting process? What are their reasons?

  • Who are some of the "experts" who support keeping the Electoral College? What are their reasons?

  • If the voting process is changed, what should replace the Electoral College? What would be the strengths of that system? What would be the weaknesses or potential problems?

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Planthe Assessment

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Early in the Project

  • Product (Individual)

    • Written summary of the Electoral College process

  • Artifact (Individual)

    • Note-taking from video on Electoral College

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Criteria for Summary

  • Correctly describes the function and process of the Electoral College

  • Is organized in paragraphs that contain one main idea and supporting details

  • Contains no spelling or grammar errors

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During the Project

  • Products (Small Group)

    • State by state predictions of the election outcome (map)

    • Overall prediction on the election winner based on map

    • Chart analyzing facts and opinions found in articles about the value of the Electoral College

    • Questions for an interview with a magazine editor on crafting letters to editors

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During the Project

  • Artifacts (Small Groups)

    • Record of discussion on overall election prediction

    • Guidelines for analyzing statements from articles into “for” or “against” the Electoral College and into “fact” or “opinion”

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Criteria for Predictions

  • Every state on map is coded for McCain (red) or Obama (blue)

  • If all sources agree on how a state will vote, the map reflects that. If not, the group cites a source that they used to make their prediction for the state

  • The overall prediction follows from the elector totals for each candidate calculated from the state predictions on the map

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Rubric for Analysis Chart

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Rubric Criterion 1

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Rubric Criterion 2

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Rubric Criterion 3

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Criteria for Interview Questions

  • Each question helps bridge the gap between what the class knows about what the class thinks it needs to know to write a successful editorial letter to an appropriate media outlet

  • The question set includes a variety of types of questions: who, what, where, when, why, how

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End of Project

  • Product (Small Group)

    • Letter to Editor arguing for or against the Electoral College

  • Artifact (Small Group)

    • Graphic organizer for letter

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Rubric for Letter to Editor

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Rubric Criterion 1

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Rubric Criterion 2

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Rubric Criterion 3

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Rubric Criterion 4

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Rubric Criterion 5

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Mapthe Project

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Story Board Week 1October 27- 30

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Story Board Week 2November 3 - 7

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Story Board Week 3November 10 - 14

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Story Board Week 4November 17 - 18

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Managethe Process

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  • Scaffolding material takes a variety of forms;

    • video

    • written

    • graphic

    • oral

  • Products require the use of a variety of learning styles:

    • verbal

    • spatial

    • logical

    • mathematical

    • interpersonal

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  • Initial grouping will be by readiness level so it is easier to scaffold, modify, or model as needed

  • Regrouping for letter writing product will be by interest

  • Project outcomes could be met by a student working individually, if necessary

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Reflection and Evaluation

  • Post six wall-pad sheets around the room

  • Title the sheets:

    • What we learned about the Electoral College

    • What we learned about making predictions

    • What we learned about analyzing info

    • What we learned about asking questions

    • What we learned about letters to the editor

    • What changes we would make to the project

  • Groups rotate among sheets adding their comments

  • When all groups have added to each sheet, student volunteers will report the responses.

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What I Expect to Learn

  • If the value added to the project by having an expert speaker exceeds the efforts of finding the expert and getting approvals for the visit.

  • If the students feel comfortable setting their work out for a wide public audience.

  • If the students have mastered previously taught research skills.

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And finally...we wait to see if we are published!

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