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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

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

social studies standards from the archdiocesan curriculum framework
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)
literacy outcomes based on the archdiocesan curriculum framework standards
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)
key skills
Key Skills
  • Make data-based predictions
  • Categorize and analyze
  • Craft messages and use

media effectively

habits of mind
Habits of Mind


school wide outcomes
School-wide Outcomes

Use rubrics for evaluating writing

should the constitution be amended to eliminate the electoral college
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
unpacking the driving question
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?
early in the project
Early in the Project
  • Product (Individual)
    • Written summary of the Electoral College process
  • Artifact (Individual)
    • Note-taking from video on Electoral College
criteria for summary
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
during the project
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
during the project15
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”
criteria for predictions
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
criteria for interview questions
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
end of project
End of Project
  • Product (Small Group)
    • Letter to Editor arguing for or against the Electoral College
  • Artifact (Small Group)
    • Graphic organizer for letter
  • 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
  • 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
reflection and evaluation
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.
what i expect to learn
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.