An Inquiry-Based Election Study

Understanding that civic literacy has value long before one turns 18, Trevor holds a mascot election every four years to teach students about
 the electoral process in a highly tangible format.

This year, the children were introduced to two candidates and provided a wealth of information on topics including campaigning and the electoral college. From this critical foundation of understanding, higher-level problem solving and creativity took flight. Students made candidate videos; town hall debates were held; and the Head of School hosted a Q&A session.

Dragon Alex was the first candidate to be introduced, followed by Jamie. Alex pledged to unite the Lower School around their common interests, and build a swimming pool on the roof. Jamie’s passion was environmental sustainability. He wanted to improve the school’s recycling to help make Trevor a cleaner community. But scandals quickly erupted. Jamie was seen throwing out recyclable plastic and Alex’s promised pool sprang a leak.

Students posed an important question: “What happens in an election if you don’t like the main candidates?” As Trevor teachers are apt to do, they engaged the students’ curiosity and added lessons about third-party candidates. “A unit like this is at the heart of inquiry-based learning,” says Liz Fishman, Grade 5 Head Teacher and Curriculum Coordinator. “I know what my end goals are, because I develop the curriculum
 through Understanding 
By Design, but I cannot predict what themes will most resonate. In 2012, for example, we debated the significance of a candidate’s religion.”

With a new knowledge base, 5th-graders introduced Sunny—the big-pawed dragon who sits in the school lobby—into the election as a write-in candidate. Sunny campaigned as the community-minded, every-dragon. Election Day came, and students proudly wore their “I voted today” stickers alongside their parents’ stickers from the presidential election. And, Sonny won by a landslide.

Does your school do something similar?

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