All Schechter campuses were abuzz on on Tuesday, November 8 for its very own Election Day. From Gan Shelanu through the Middle Division, students learned about the voting process and participated in their own age-appropriate election activities.
Gan Shelanu’s Koffim teachers shared, “The children voted on which color they prefer: orange or green. It was a close race, but orange won. The students also voted on four questions: Do you like to play games? Should we have different types of schools? Should animals be treated nicely? Do you play with toys appropriately? Amazingly enough, the majority answered ‘yes’ to these questions!” In Dubim, students voted for president! Dubim teachers added, “When students walked into our polling place (our classroom), they chose a red, white or blue button and put it in a ballot box for either of the presidential candidates. In the Dubim room, it was a landslide for one of the candidates! We also had red and blue crayons and markers out for the children to color on white paper and many of us dressed in red, white and blue. We had patriotic music playing and at circle we read the book Duck for President. In addition, students later voted for either LEGOs or puzzles. Puzzles won!”
At the Shaller Campus, students voted for which activity would go with their pajama day scheduled for January. Third graders worked hard to make posters, register voters, design voting booths, organize security and run the election, while younger students registered and were escorted to the polls to vote for their choice of activity. Choices included reading, games or movie and popcorn. The winner was movie and popcorn! In addition to the school-wide election, students in Judi Rapaport’s kindergarten class also voted for their favorite apple, while Sondra Kaminsky’s kindergarten students voted for their favorite ice cream. Sondra shared, “In our class we voted for our favorite ice cream flavor: chocolate, vanilla or strawberry. We had to choose the correct colored stick, put it in the ballot box and then sign our names to show that we voted. We even went to our friends in the office to ask them to vote. At the end of the day, we counted our votes: strawberry had five votes, chocolate had nine votes and vanilla had ten votes.”
At the Shoolman Campus, students were greeted in the morning by presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. A mock election was held in the Ulam, where voting booths were open all day. Students needed to find time in their busy schedules to vote before the end of school, similar to a real election! In the Intermediate Division, fourth and fifth graders got a taste of what it is like to be a part of the Electoral College. Intermediate Division Supervisor David Wolf explained, “Students were assigned states in pairs to research in order to predict which candidate those states would support in the election. State by state, they announced their predictions, and we projected a map of the United States reflecting their predictions. Students wore shirts and hats or carried props related to their states. The students gained a real understanding of the electoral process and the importance of winning states.” In addition to the mock Electoral College, Evie Weinstein-Park’s fourth graders had a lesson in election math and advertising. Evie added, “We looked at how a candidate can win the popular vote but lose the Electoral College. We also looked at how low population states like Wyoming are over-represented and how high population states like California are actually under-represented. And, we analyzed the content, tone and style of some political commercials from the 1950s through the 1990s.”
Eighth grade teachers added more depth to the experience. Grade 8 Social Studies teacher Rachel Katz shared, “Students studied the electoral college and learned that hypothetically, a candidate could win the election with only 12 states’ electoral votes. They learned about traditional liberal and conservative viewpoints on a number of key issues, and then researched Clinton and Trump’s viewpoints based on their websites and determined whether the views the candidates espoused lined up with the traditional liberal/conservative views. They watched a variety of negative and positive political campaign ads from 1964 to present and discussed who the target audience was for each ad, what made each ad effective and what tropes are present through 50 years of political advertising history. They discussed every debate and used the website PolitiFact to check whether the candidates’ assertions were truthful.They also followed key issues of the election through a class blog and ongoing study of current events.”