Hands-on Englishcurrent events activityfor ESL

September 21, 2008

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Current events activities

New, for September 2008:
Election 2008

(Previous activities will open in a new window:)

September 2005:
Mexico helps U.S.

October 2004:
Election 2004--Electoral College

June 2004:
A Reagan Timeline

February 2003:
The Columbia Spaceshuttle Tragedy

September 11, 2001:
Tragedy of September 11th

March 01:
Where your taxes go

October 00:
Going to vote in the U.S.

August 00:
Taking part in the Olympic torch relay

March 00:
US Primary Elections

February 00:
Census 2000

March 99:
Joe DiMaggio, Baseball legend

August 98:
Hate group loses court case

July 98:
Controversy cards

June 98:
Strike in Philadelphia

May 98
Countries in the news

Feb 98:
Olympics

Jan 98:
Financial crisis in Korea

Dec 97:
Climate talks in Japan

Nov 97:
Winter in Nebraska

Oct 97:
Forest fires in Indonesia

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Citizenship activity:

Election 2008:
Counting Electoral College votes.

Here is an activity to help your students understand how the U.S. presidential election process works. Included here is a reading which summarizes the process, a chart to track electoral college votes, and a map showing electoral votes for each state.

If your students are interested in following the election on election night, they can use the chart below to keep score. Our chart arranges the states alphabetically. An alternative is to have the students create their own chart according to time zones. Give the students a copy of the map (below) and ask them to mark the times zones on it, using the phone book as reference. Then they can draw up a chart for each time zone, writing the names of the states in one column, the number of votes each state has, and two blank columns for the candidates. As the results are reported in by the news media, the students can log the votes on their chart.

To practice the two-letter state abbreviations and state names, see our crossword puzzles in the September/October 2004 issue of Hands-on English (Vol. 14, No. 3). This exercise combines a geography lesson with a matching exercise. Find more election activities in our most recent issue, Vol. 18, No. 2--this includes a multi-level crossword puzzle, a multi-level dictation, and a reading activity, all about the U.S. elections!

We hope your students enjoy this activity! Happy teaching!
Best wishes,
Anna

p.s. Our readers are telling us that their students are very interested in learning about this election! If you have a lesson to share or some teaching suggestions, please contact me and I'll pass these along. Thank you!

 


Reading:

Electing a president, 2008.

True or false: “On Tuesday, November 4th, 2008, there will be an election for president in the U.S.” You may be surprised to hear that this is false! In fact, there are really 51 elections on that day. There is an election in every state and in the District of Columbia (Washington, D.C.). When the polls open in the morning, people can go to vote. When the polls close in the evening, the votes are counted. Each state counts their votes and decides who got the most votes for president in that state. After they choose a winner, that state gives all its Electoral College votes to the winning candidate. The first candidate to collect 270 Electoral votes wins.
For example, in Ohio if more people vote for McCain, McCain will get all of Ohio’s 20 Electoral College votes. But if more people vote for Obama, then Obama will win all of these 20 Electoral votes. Ohio is a ‘swing’ state. That means no one is sure who will win there--McCain or Obama? There are many swing states this year. No one is sure who will win the election.
On election night, you can find out who is winning the presidential election by counting the Electoral College votes from each state.

Vocabulary: Electoral College, polls open, polls close, candidate, swing state, choose a winner, count the votes, election night.

Discussion: How many Electoral College votes does your state have? Is your state a ‘swing’ state? Who do you think will win the most votes in your state, the Republican candidate or the Democratic candidate?

 


(See the chart & map, below.)


State

Electoral
votes

McCain
(Republican)

Obama
(Democrat)

1.

Alabama

9

2.

Alaska

3

3.

Arizona

10

4.

Arkansas

6

5.

California

55

6.

Colorado

9

7.

Connecticut

7

8.

Delaware

3

9.

District of Columbia

3

10.

Florida

27

11.

Georgia

15

12.

Hawaii

4

13.

Idaho

4

14.

Illinois

21

15.

Indiana

11

16.

Iowa

7

17.

Kansas

6

18.

Kentucky

8

19.

Louisiana

9

20.

Maine*

4

21.

Maryland

10

22.

Massachusetts

12

23.

Michigan

17

24.

Minnesota

10

25.

Mississippi

6

26.

Missouri

11

27.

Montana

3

28.

Nebraska*

5

29.

Nevada

5

30.

New Hampshire

4

31.

New Jersey

15

32.

New Mexico

5

33.

New York

31

34.

North Carolina

15

35.

North Dakota

3

36.

Ohio

20

37.

Oklahoma

7

38.

Oregon

7

39.

Pennsylvania

21

40.

Rhode Island

4

41.

South Carolina

8

42.

South Dakota

3

43.

Tennessee

11

44.

Texas

34

45.

Utah

5

46.

Vermont

3

47.

Virginia

13

48.

Washington

11

49.

West Virginia

5

50.

Wisconsin

10

51.

Wyoming

3

TOTAL

538

Notes:In 2008, at least 270 Electoral College votes are needed to win.
(The District of Columbia (Washington, D.C.) is not a state but has 3 Electoral College votes.)
*Two states (Nebraska and Maine) can divide their votes according to the winner in each congressional district.
In all the other states, the candidate who wins the most votes in the state wins all of the Electoral College votes.
This is called “winner takes all.”


This U.S. map shows the number of Electoral College votes in each state.
Mark the four main time zones on this map (Eastern, Central, Mountain, Pacific).
You can find this information in the telephone book.


Feedback. . .

As always I am interested to hear what you and your students are doing in the classroom, and I welcome comments and teaching suggestions.--Anna Silliman,


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