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Homeschooling Tools for the Presidential Debates

By Lily Iatridis  September 29, 2016

How much has the presidential election been a topic of discussion in your family?

Kids only experience a few presidential election years before they’re grown, so studying a presidential election is an important learning opportunity! 

Monday's presidential debate got a lot of attention in the news media, and many reporters had an opinion on how last Monday's debate went and why.

Let your kids take a turn at playing the reporter!  With the project below, they'll use their critical thinking, writing and presentation skills to  form a fact-based position on the presidential debates and the candidates running for office.

Keep on reading for the lesson plan with links to supporting materials below.

Project News Report — The Presidential Debates

The objective of this activity is to use independent critical thinking, writing and presentation skills to determine a winner of the 2016 presidential debates.

A few days before the next debate:

1. Download a copy of the Debate Viewer Handout, offered for free by PBS.org, by clicking on the link below. Review the vocabulary on the questions to learn what to listen for while watching one of the remaining debates.

Debate Viewer Handout

2. Read or watch video reports on last Monday’s Presidential debate by other reporters. Which approach do your teens like best? Would they want to mimic this format when they do their report? Below are  links to several examples from national news sources. Read or watch these with your kids.

CNN. This report offers short written reports on Monday’s debate from a variety of seasoned reporters with different perspectives.

3. Work with your kids to decide how they’ll want to present their debate review. What shape will their final project take? Decide this before they watch and start to take notes on the next debate.

During the next debate:

4. Complete the Debate Viewer Handout.

The day after the next debate:

5. Review the kids' notes together and discuss answers to the following critical thinking  questions. There’s no right or wrong answer, but it’s up to your kids to decide what is important, how important it is, and why.

  • Do you think either candidates’ physical appearance helped or hurt them in the debate?
  • What was your impression of each candidate during their exchanges with one another?
  • Do you think the manner in which candidates answer questions affects what the public thinks of them?
  • How should we judge a presidential candidate’s debate performance? Should a candidate’s image play a role?

6. Outline and write or present their own analysis on the debate! This can be done as a written report, a live oral presentation, or a video.



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