Engaging Students on Election Night

by Mary Ellen Daneels, Civics Instructional Specialist

With less than one week until the General Election, #CivicsInTheMiddle classrooms across the Land of Lincoln are preparing students to consume and engage with the election results through candidate research projects, deliberations over the Illinois Graduated Income Tax Amendment, mock elections, and Electoral College simulations. While our Election 2020 Toolkit at IllinoisCivics.org has helped in each of these endeavors, our latest #Teach2020 webinar focused on how to engage students on election night.

There are many “known unknowns” as we creep towards November 3 including: Dr. Shawn Healy, the Director of the Democracy Program at the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, tackled these questions and more in our recent PD. If you missed the session, you can access a recording to watch at your leisure.

We asked some of our Civics Instructional Coaches how they plan to engage their students on election night. Here are some of the resources they recommend.
  • Candi Fikis from West Chicago suggests, “Have students look at Electoral College historical maps, predictions maps and make their own, maybe for a fun contest. Maps can be downloaded and saved.”
  • Corie Yow from Chatham plans to use FanSchool, “A contest to predict the results of the election. While students are waiting for the results to come in for each state, they can play Win the White House from iCivics.” The winning FANSchool student wins a $1000 scholarship!
  • Chris Johnson from Oneida also endorses FANSchool and 270toWin for students to make Electoral Map predictions. “Give each student a blank map of the US or give them an interactive one and ask them to make predictions as to who will win each state. Come up with a fun contest with multiple categories (most correct states, closest to actual electoral college outcome, most swing states correctly guessed, etc). You can post printed maps in the classroom or someway online.”
  • The latest Civics In Real Life from the Lou Frey Institute shares a one-page infographic of states for students to watch and trends to follow.
You can also engage students in making predictions about who will win a majority in the House of Representatives and the Senate using resources like:
  • Real Clear Politics that collects and aggregates a variety of polls.
  • The Cook Political Report that analyzes elections and campaigns for the US House of Representatives, US Senate, Governors, and President as well as American political trends.
  • FiveThirtyEight that uses a model designed by Nate Silver to predict the outcomes of the presidential, senate, and house races.
Whatever the outcome of the 2020 Election, the IllinoisCivics.org team is committed to helping classrooms process the results.
  • On Wednesday, November 4, Dr. Shawn Healy will join the Civics Instructional Coaches in an afterschool webinar on Processing the Results of the 2020 Election.
  • On Thursday, November 5, IllinoisCivics.org will join other members of the Teaching for Democracy Alliance to host a special Twitter Chat at 6 p.m. CT. Your favorite civic learning providers will share resources around emerging questions involving the election results in partnership with the #sschat community.
  • On Wednesday, November 11, IllinoisCivics.org will host an after school Post Election Analysis with Dr. Steven D. Schwinn, Law Professor at the University of Illinois Law School. There will be a special emphasis on the impact the election may have on the judicial branch and any issues related to the elections before the courts.
What are you doing to engage your students on Election Night? Please comment below. Together, we can prepare ALL students for college, career, and civic life in remote, hybrid, and traditional classrooms.

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