Hands-on English current events activityfor ESL

March 2000 (latest update: February 24, 2000)

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Citizenship activity:

U.S. Primary Elections

We just received this wonderful activity from Paula Cosko, an ESL teacher in Seattle, and we rushed to put this up for you just in time for Super Tuesday, the group of presidential primaries that will be held on March 7th. Here's what Paula told us about the activity:

"My ESL citizenship students are using this chart as they follow the primaries across the nation. The activity is very simple, but they are really enjoying it. It is a way to track the results of all the primary elections as they take place and keep a record of who the winners are.

"My students are really interested in this because they come from countries where they could not vote, and because they are eager to participate in the voting process once they become citizens. It seems important to them as future voters to become involved in our democratic process as far as they are able to at this time."

How to do it:
Make a copy of the chart below for each student. If your students are just starting to learn about the primaries, though, we recommend you prepare the Republican and Democrat primary lists on separate sheets. (You can do this by cutting and pasting your original.) This is to reinforce the concept that the two parties are not competing with each other at this time; they are engaged in separate processes to select a candidate. Putting these on separate sheets also gives people more space to write.

A day or two before the next primaries are held, discuss with your students where these will be, which parties are involved and which candidates are running. They can fill out the results as homework, based on the TV news, newspaper or online news services if they have access to these. For beginning students, just getting the name of the winning candidate in each race is a task they can succeed at. For more advanced students, however, it might be fun to get them involved in counting delegates in each race, i.e., how many delegates each candidate wins.

Some facts:
Not all the races below are primaries; some are called caucuses. We included the scheduled date for each event on the chart, but keep in mind that these can change. In fact, the very day we wrote this, Kansas cancelled their scheduled primaries and decided to hold party caucuses instead on different dates! Each state and each party makes its own decisions about how to run these elections. In some states the two parties hold their elections on different days. (In future election years, of course, all the dates are likely to be different.)
Remind the students that Republican National Convention is July 31 - August 3rd 2000, in Philadelphia, and the Democratic National Convention is August 14 - 17 in Los Angeles. This is what these primaries are leading up to! And of course Election Day is Tuesday, November 7.
For more info, and for updates on what's going on in each state, you can look at news services online. For example, we looked at CNN.com/ELECTION/2000 (look at the pull-down menu there for election results), and ABCNEWS.com/Politics. Both of these sites have a lot of detailed information available.

Student tasks:
You could ask the students to write a list of which states are holding elections on March 7th. (Can they guess why this is called 'Super Tuesday'?)They can find this information from the chart below, or from news sources. They can use their list to note the results as they watch TV or read the news that day. After the primaries, the students can work together in class to fill in the totals on the chart.
We think getting students involved in some score-keeping is a fun way to help them understand this confusing election process!

State

Republican

Democrat

1.

Alabama

6/6

6/6

2.

Alaska

1/24

3/25

3.

Arizona

2/22

3/11

4.

Arkansas

5/23

5/23

5.

California

3/7

3/7

6.

Colorado

3/10

3/10

7.

Connecticut

3/7

3/7

8.

Delaware

2/15

2/12

9.

Florida

3/14

3/14

10.

Georgia

3/7

3/7

11.

Hawaii

2/7

3/7

12.

Idaho

5/23

3/7

13.

Illinois

3/21

3/21

14.

Indiana

5/2

5/2

15.

Iowa

1/24

1/24

16.

Kansas

5/25

4/22

17.

Kentucky

5/23

5/23

18.

Louisiana

3/14

3/14

19.

Maine

3/7

3/7

20.

Maryland

3/7

3/7

21.

Massachusetts

3/7

3/7

22.

Michigan

3/22

3/11

23.

Minnesota

3/7

3/7

24.

Mississippi

3/14

3/14

25.

Missouri

3/7

3/7

26.

Montana

6/6

6/6

27.

Nebraska

5/9

5/9

28.

Nevada

3/21

3/12

29.

New Hampshire

2/1

2/1

30.

New Jersey

6/6

6/6

31.

New Mexixo

6/6

6/6

32.

New York

3/7

3/7

33.

North Carolina

5/2

5/2

34.

North Dakota

2/29

3/7

35.

Ohio

3/7

3/7

36.

Oklahoma

3/14

3/14

37.

Oregon

5/16

5/16

38.

Pennsylvania

4/4

4/4

39.

Rhode Island

3/7

3/7

40.

South Carolina

2/19

3/7

41.

South Dakota

6/6

6/6

42.

Tennessee

3/14

3/14

43.

Texas

3/14

3/14

44.

Utah

3/10

3/10

45.

Vermont

3/7

3/7

46.

Virginia

2/29

4/15

47.

Washington

2/29

3/7

48.

West Virginia

5/9

5/9

49.

Wisconsin

4/4

4/4

50.

Wyoming

3/10

3/25

Other regions

*

District of Columbia

5/2

5/2

*

Puerto Rico

2/27

3/12

*

Guam

?

5/6

*

American Samoa

?

3/7