General Information:

  • Teacher(s) name: Crista Lawson
  • Contact info:
  • Title: Kids Decision
  • Grade Level(s): 5
  • Content Area: Social Studies
  • Time line: 8 weeks


  • Content Standards:
Social Sciences: Civics and Government
    • Understand participatory responsibilities of citizens in the community (voluntarism) and in the political process (becoming informed about public issues and candidates, joining political parties/interest groups/associations, communicating with public officials, voting, influencing lawmaking through such processes as petitions/initiatives)
    • Understand the roles of the three branches of government and explain how their powers are distributed and shared

  • NETS*S Standards (21st C. Skills):
Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others. Students:
    • communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences using a variety of media and formats.
    • contribute to project teams to produce original works or solve problems.

Students apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information. Students:
    • locate, organize, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and ethically use information from a variety of sources and media.

Students use critical thinking skills to plan and conduct research, manage projects, solve problems, and make informed decisions using appropriate digital tools and resources. Students:
    • collect and analyze data to identify solutions and/or make informed decisions.

Fifth grade students study the branches of government and citizenship/voting. Since this is a presidential election year, I want to expand this unit so students can compare, and analyze political stances. Students are going to form news reporting teams. Each groups will be able to choose a piece of election/government to explore and report on, examples: history of voting, presidential history, functions of government, importance of voting, campaign commercials, local voice (where is your voice heard). Students will report findings through a news broadcast using video, podcast, web page. Other students from around the United States will share and collaborate their research findings with my students on wikispaces. As well as conduct straw polls on survey monkey to compare and contrast our community/state with other classrooms. We are hoping to have representation from all regions. Students will explore current candidates and issues. The project culminates with the analysis of voting patterns- class to other student voters, class to city and state and country. As well as, students vote in a mock election and report on how they made their decision.

Essential Questions:
How do you know if you live in a democracy?
What is democracy? What are the origins of democracy? What is government? What is the function of government? Why is voting important? How has the right to vote changed over time?

Assessment Plan:
Before project begins:
-a class discussion about essential questions surrounding this project.
-complete a KWL chart
-journaling: Students will use a composition book to record questions and ideas about the essential questions.

Students work on projects and complete tasks:
-project rubric: Students will refer to their rubric throughout their work on this project
-questioning: Students will use a composition book to record research, write down questions, and ideas
-conferences: I will meet bi-weekly with students to discuss their projects and progress

Formative Assessment

-Daily monitoring student work
-Students will reflect on learning and discoveries on a class blog. Topics: process? what is working? What would they do differently? is technology enhancing project. What are they learning about democracy, voting and government? What have they learned personally about democracy and government?
-Participation in class discussion

Final Assessment
Students will share their learning with other students who are studying similar topics and are a part of this democracy project. Students will vote in a mock election and reflect on how they made their informed decision.

Human Resources
students and teachers from other schools, tech specialist, registered voters, politicians, government officials

Material Resources

Composition books, magazines, newspapers, books, highlighters, pencils, etc.

Technology Resources
research websites, news Web site for kids such as CCN Student, primary sources, class blog, class wiki, web 2.0 tools, survey monkey, video cameras, cameras, iPhoto, iMovie, Garageband, COW

Instructional Plan
  • Preparation:
Foundations for this learning:
Student interests: voting, presidential election, American citizenship, freedom and rights

Prior Learning: knowledge of internet research, basic knowledge of government, experience with cameras, iPhoto, and class blog

Student needs: group work experience

I will assess this knowledge of these foundations through class discussions and journal reflections. Students may have difficulties finding information that is at their reading levels and to discriminate between fact and opinion as it relates to current election information. I'd narrow their searching with a Google Custom Search, or with Kidzui (free) or with Nettrekker.
  • Management:
Students will work in groups. Each person in the group will have a different role. They will begin each work session with a short planning/focus meeting and end each work session with a reflection. In the reflection, a rubric will help students assess their performance for each group work session. Here's one sample. Students will access their calendar to stay on track during research process and see what deadlines they need to meet. Group work will happen in the classroom where students have access to laptops and various resource materials. A small portion of this project will be completed in the computer lab.
  • Instruction and Activities:
Instructional Practices: jigsaw, whole group, mini lessons,Think Pair Share, conferencing, small group work, teacher modeling
Teacher role: facilitate learning and class discussions, help students stay on timeline, provide resources and answer questions, assessing
Students' roles: learners as well as teachers, fulfill their specific group role, complete assigned tasks and participate in group discussions
Technology: assessment, reasearch, modeling, collaboration
Activites: KWL, journaling, conferencing, write reflections, explore current candidates and issues, discussions, conduct and analyze straw poll, mock election
Build Knowlegde and Skills: research, group work, class discussions, teacher modeling, student sharing
  • Differentiation:
Teach through different learning styles, students brings strength to their group work (ie. if good at technology that is the group role),
Learn independently: teach calendar, self evaluation, time management skills.

Learn with others: peers reviews, reflection on group work and a rubric, problem solving skills
Enrichment: explore a topic more in depth, bring in more/different technology, be an expert in some area (ie. technology, math (graphing, analyzing data), etc.)