Promising Practice: In order to tap into the excitement about the 2008 Presidential election as well as teach students about the electoral process, the English Center created a unique curriculum for their 8-week Fall 2008 Community English classes. Through the Mock Election Unit, the English recreated, within the school setting, a situation very similar to the real electoral process in the United States. The agency reported that at first, students were nervous about casting ballots in the mock election, and had difficulty understanding how the electoral process works. Through their innovative and comprehensive curriculum, The English Center helped alleviate these fears and helped students learn about the electoral process in a hands-on way.
Agency awarded: The English Center, 2009
Summary Description of Project:
In preparing for the “election”, teachers assessed each student’s familiarity with voting, whether in their native country or in the United States. Discussions about cultural differences in voting procedures led to interesting exchanges of information among the students. Students talked about whether they had voted in the United States or any other country, and shared their perceptions about voting in the US. Community support and resources were an integral part of the process. Students used real voter guides and sample ballots from the community for their research, and many community members volunteered their time and materials for the project. The English Center also hosted a “Get out the Vote” rally in partnership with KQED and the League of Women Voters to promote the candidates and give students the experience of a real political rally. For EL Civics classes, EL Civics Objective #39 (Identify and discuss the voting process) was used to prepare students for the mock election. These students were asked to give an oral presentation comparing two candidates, and also participated in an exit poll. Of the 23 students participating in tasks related to EL Civics Objective #39, 19 (82%) passed, while the others were very close to passing.
During the mock election, authentic ballots were used were used and the procedures closely followed those of a real polling place, with private voting booths and “I Voted” stickers. All 80 students in the 5 participating ESL classes voted for President, and about 40% of students voted for additional representatives and/or propositions. Student feedback after the mock election included comments about what they learned from the process. Students said that they "learned how to cast votes in a ballot box," "learned why it is important to vote," "learned new vocabulary," and "learned more about American culture." In 2007-08, The English Center surpassed California state performance goals in 5 out of the 6 ESL instructional levels, and had an 88.9% persistence rate. The English Center attributes their high student performance to focused and individualized instruction during each 8-week course session, as well as the support resources available to all of their students.
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