Covering a Presidential Election

Jane Dodson
William Penn High School
York, Pennsylvania


  • Watch televised presidential debate, practicing note-taking skills
  • Evaluate two candidates’ views on one teen-related issue
  • Write two paragraphs comparing and contrasting the views
  • Work in maestro groups to design a package.

Instruction & Activities:

Day 1

  • Teacher instruction in note-taking technique – paper divided vertically, half for facts and half for direct quotes.
  • View teacher-made videotape of two candidates’ views on one issue. (an example might include the federal debt)
  • Students practice note-taking technique
  • Review notes in pairs. Compare information captured, accuracy, completeness
  • Choose topics. Example: Education, health care, taxes, welfare reform, college aid, economy, morality, national security
  • Homework: Two weeks to complete
    • View debate (supply dates, times, networks). Complete note-taking.
    • Research candidates’ views in one print source (magazine or newspaper) and one Internet source.

Day 2 (2 weeks later)

  • In small groups compare information with others who studied same issue.
  • Review attributes and structure for comparison-contrast writing.
  • Model writing assignment using federal debt issue.
  • Homework: Write two paragraphs comparing and contrasting the candidates’ views on one issue. Show use of three sources through appropriate and adequate attribution. Complete in two days.

Day 3

  • Maestro groups of four will discuss design ideas for package on candidates.
  • Complete package planning sheet. Decisions: Art, photos, sidebars, layout

Day 4

  • Pairs of students will conference about writings using coaching sheet.
  • Homework: Revise and edit writing. Submit next day for evaluation.


  • Best package idea designed and printed.
  • Students will read complete package and vote based on candidates’ views.
  • Editor will write the staff’s endorsement based on results of class election.
  • Considerations:
    • Will whole staff work on this project or just a group (i.e. first year students, second year students)?
    • Do all students have access to watch or tape a debate? Teacher sensitivity important here. Teacher could tape all debates so they are available.
    • Prior instruction in attribution and working in a maestro group


  • Rubric assessment of writing – state holistic writing rubric maestro sheet from each group.