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An Independent Day School for Grades 6-12

Upper School Government Mock Election Podcasts

Fall is Mock Election time for Upper School Government students. In 2020, students have more issues and angles to dissect and discuss than ever before. One of their projects is to create engaging and edifying weekly podcasts featuring an overview of the week's news and a main deep dive story. 

Check out the podcasts on Spotify.

Upper School History Teacher Lauren Vargas creates a model Mock Election unit that makes politics very real for her students. She knows how to run an election--albeit a mock election.  She was featured in the Spring 2020 edition of Independent Teacher Magazine with her piece on the benefits of teaching politics through a project-based mock election. (Check out the full article here.)

As this year’s election gets underway her commitment to project-based learning continues. The Government class is releasing a weekly podcast to the community. The students are reporting on topics like mail-in voting, Justice Ginsberg’s impact, mass incarceration, and the Affordable Care Act. Here is what Ms. Vargas has to say about the project:

Part of what makes the government class so much fun to teach is that students get to take the driver’s seat. The best learning activities are those that are relevant to students and take their learning outside the walls of the classroom.  Students rise to the level of expectation we set.  This year, the government students have been assigned teams that they return to for all group work in the course.  Each podcast team takes a week of news coverage but also must choose a main feature topic to research and explore within their podcast.  All groups also need to reach out for an interview “outside the bubble.”  I provided email templates and checklists to make sure they are covering all the appropriate journalistic requirements, especially when it comes to recording, but students have to manage the logistics of arranging interviews, designing questions, and all the podcast editing.  So far, each group has been able to catch a pretty big fish for their interviews.  

When I think about the value of project-based learning it's the marriage of skills and content and the elevation of both.  Students are learning a ton of new content and it is tailored to their interests.  They are also navigating the challenges and benefits of working in a group to make something no individual could have accomplished alone.  Finally, they are providing a service to the community in sourcing material, explaining key election events and topics, and connecting us to experts.  Crystal students are scholars and storytellers and a podcast is a great way to demonstrate both while taking a leadership role in the community.
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