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CYBERBEE: Campaign 2008

By Linda C. Joseph - Posted Sep 1, 2008
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What would John Adams and Thomas Jefferson think about the presidential election process today? Instead of appealing to a few colleagues for their votes, they would have to mount major campaigns to garner the votes of millions of American citizens. What would their slogans be and where would they stand on the issues? A lot has changed since our first president, George Washington, took the oath of office, including the lightning-fast way information is disseminated.

With the 2008 election upon us, there are many websites analyzing the personal attributes and platforms of the candidates as well as examining the political process for electing a president. The news media provides all sorts of information from facts to commentary with a dose of speculation by an array of "expert" panelists. For better or worse, YouTube and blogs allow unfettered participation by individuals. It is more important than ever that your students learn to be discerning readers when researching these sources. CyberBee has selected a variety of places to explore and use with your students.

 

National Parties

Democratic National Committee

Meet the candidate. Stay informed on the party platform, news updates, and current issues. There is plenty of news about the opponent as well. Using the Party Builder, locate and participate in community groups, events, blogs, and fundraising. Delve into the history of the Democratic Party and learn how the donkey became its symbol.

Republican National Committee

Read press releases, speeches, and the party platform. Learn about the history of the Republican Party and how the elephant became its symbol. Join a group and discuss the issues or view videos about the opponent’s shortcomings.

 

News Organizations

Journalists in every media outlet are focused on the 2008 campaign. Each newspaper and television source provides a wealth of information and opinions about the candidates as well as daily news updates. In addition, many have teamed with social networks such as Facebook, YouTube, and blogs that allow participation by anyone with an internet connection. The following is a selected list of major news organizations:

ABC Vote 08

Political headlines, videos, blogs, and polling information are featured.

C-Span’s Campaign Network

Watch programs aired on C-Span, campaign ads, and interviews from the political library.

CBS Campaign 08

Open the Campaign Toolkit that includes a calendar, poll database, money race, photo essays, campaign ads, video from the road, and political players. Read profiles of the candidates and the latest news about their campaigns. View cartoons and participate in blogs.

CNN Election Center 2008

Meet the candidates, view charts of the latest polls, and play Presidential Pong. Campaign news and analysis presents the latest headlines, news from the political ticker blog, and video clips. CNN’s iReport encourages you to send campaign photographs and political cartoons and contribute opinions.

Fox News: You Decide 2008

News is easy to access since it is listed under each candidate’s name. Video clips of the debates and poll averages are also available.

MSNBC: Decision 08

View candidate pages and subscribe to the RSS feed. Rate each candidate on the issues by using an interactive tool. Keep current with opinions from First Read. Learn the answers to trivia questions about the candidates that everyone wants to know.

NPR Election 2008

The focus of this site is information about the candidates, analysis, and news feeds. An interactive map allows you to view specific statistical information about each state.

PBS Online Newshour

View interviews with the candidates, reporter’s blog, and top news stories. Take the Vote by Issue quiz to find out how GOP and Democratic presidential candidates stack up on key election issues. Subscribe to an RSS election feed podcast or blog. Be sure to check out the lesson plans, including Analyzing the Candidates in the 2008 Presidential Election.

USA TODAY

News, candidate stories, and issues are the main topics covered. A unique feature at this site is the Candidate Match Game. USA TODAY researched candidate positions on top issues—Iraq, immigration, and healthcare—as well as a few others that may influence the election. It then came up with 11 multiple-choice questions that would help differentiate the candidates and their stances.

The Washington Post

The Washington Post offers an outstanding profile of each candidate that provides insight into their campaign styles, what facts they got wrong, and things you might not know about them.

 

Voting Information

CyberBee’s Election Lessons

CyberBee has created several lessons using primary sources and technology. Create a campaign ad or media fact sheet, plan a presidential campaign, analyze historical style, prepare to debate the issues, and look at previous presidents and first ladies. Click on Elementary Activities for quick lessons on the elephant and donkey or stars and stripes. In addition, students can participate in a scavenger hunt or create a campaign button. Don’t miss the primary source activity, A Visit from Taft. Effie Barnaby, manager of the Postal Telegraph Company office in Massillon, Ohio, during the early 1900s, describes the campaign visit of William Howard Taft, the 1908 Republican presidential candidate.

CyberBee’s Historical Memorabilia

Active presidential campaigning and the use of mementos for advertising did not begin until the mid-1800s. One reason was that through 1812, a majority of presidential electors were chosen by state legislatures rather than by popular vote. A second reason was that it was not considered proper to openly seek the office of president. After being nominated, most candidates stayed at home and awaited the results. This online exhibit of buttons, ribbons, pins, watch fobs, medalets, postcards, and sheet music is made possible through the courtesy of the Ohio Historical Society and the Macy Hallock collections.

Kids Voting USA

Kids Voting is a nonpartisan organization that teaches the importance of being an informed voter. Because of this grass-roots effort, K–12 students can cast ballots online or at their schools on election day. Visit this site and register to access the curriculum materials.

League of Women Voters

Making Democracy Work is a goal for the League of Women Voters. They have created Vote411, a comprehensive database of voter information covering topics such as election dates, polling places, eligibility requirements, and much more.

Project Vote Smart

Project Vote Smart is loaded with information about the candidates, including profiles, speeches, voting records, and campaign finances. In addition, there are excellent descriptions of the election process that explain caucuses, primaries, and the convention. One section is devoted to the Electoral College and how it operates. This is a great starting point.

Scholastic News Online: Election 2008

Meet the candidates, join an online discussion of campaign issues, or cast your vote in a mock primary. Play the game "You’re the President." Choose staff and balance the budget. Test your knowledge about the candidates by taking the Election Selection quiz. Subscribe to an RSS newsfeed to keep up-to-date. Kid Reporters provide live coverage from the debates and campaign trail.

NARA U.S. Electoral College

Find the answers to dozens of questions about the Electoral College. Try your hand at predicting who will win the next presidential election by manipulating the numbers for each candidate in each state. View the electoral votes, popular votes, electors, and certificates of past presidential elections. Links to lessons are also provided.

Be sure to visit the MultiMedia & Internet@Schools homepage (www.mmischools.com) with CyberBee’s biweekly Web Pick. Then fly over to CyberBee (www.cyberbee.com) for more curriculum ideas, research tools, and activities to use with your students and staff.

Linda Joseph is the author of Net Curriculum: An Educator’s Guide to Using the Internet, published by CyberAge Books. The recipient of numerous awards, in addition to her work in the Columbus Public Schools and the Library of Congress, Linda is currently a part-time instructor for Ohio State University. Communications to the author may be addressed to her at ljoseph@iwaynet.net.

Standards

National Content Standards

Below is a selected list of subject area content standards that generally encompass the election activities in this article. More specific standards can be applied depending on the project and its curriculum.

Language Arts Standards

• -Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions and by posing problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and nonprint texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.

• -Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.

Social Studies Standards

Power, Authority, and Governance

• -Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of how people create and change structures of power, authority, and governance.

Civics Ideals and Practices

• -Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of the ideals, principles, and practices of citizenship in a democratic republic.

 

Polling information

Nearly every news organization has some type of political poll. How is the data gathered? What is margin of error? Compare and contrast different polls. Why are there different percentages? Do you think polls can determine a race? Examples of polling organizations are listed below. Begin with Real Clear Politics, which summarizes polling data and breaks it down into an understandable format.

American Research Group, Inc.

http://americanresearchgroup.com

Gallup, Inc.

www.gallup.com

Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, Inc.

www.mason-dixon.com/public/index.cfm

Pew Research Center

http://pewresearch.org

Polling Report, Inc.

www.pollingreport.com/2008.htm

Quinnipiac University

www.quinnipiac.edu/x271.xml

Rasmussen Reports, LLC

www.rasmussenreports.com

RealClearPolitics 2008

www.realclearpolitics.com/polls

SurveyUSA

www.surveyusa.com

Zogby International

www.zogby.com

 

Candidates

Each of the candidates has a website with current news, campaign ads, where they stand on a variety of issues, and suggestions for getting involved. The following is a list of the official sites for each of the well-known and not-so-well-known candidates in alphabetical order by party as of June 4, 2008.

Constitution Party

Charles Baldwin

http://baldwin2008.com

Democratic Party

Barack Obama

www.barackobama.com

Green Party

Ralph Nader

www.votenader.org

Libertarian Party

Bob Barr

www.bobbarr2008.com

Republican Party

John McCain

www.johnmccain.com

 

RESOURCES

National Parties

Democratic National Committee

www.democrats.org

Republican National Committee

www.rnc.org

News Organizations

ABC Vote 08

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/Vote2008

C-Span’s Campaign Network

www.campaignnetwork.org

CBS Campaign 08

www.cbsnews.com/sections/politics/main250.shtml

CNN Election Center 2008

www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2008

Fox News: You Decide 2008

www.foxnews.com/politics/youdecide2008/index.html

MSNBC: Decision 08

www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18970417

NPR Election 2008

www.npr.org/templates/topics/topic.php?topicId=1102

PBS Online Newshour

www.pbs.org/newshour/vote2008

USA TODAY

www.usatoday.com/news/politics/default.htm?loc=interstitialskip

The Washington Post Co.

www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/politics/index.html

Voting Information

CyberBee’s Election Lessons

www.cyberbee.com/election/election.html

CyberBee’s Political Memorabilia

www.cyberbee.com/campaign/mem.html

Kids Voting USA

www.kidsvotingusa.org

League of Women Voters

www.lwv.org

Project Vote Smart

www.votesmart.org/index.htm

Scholastic News Online: Election 2008

http://teacher.scholastic.com/scholasticnews/indepth/election2008.htm 

U.S. Electoral College

www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college


 
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