Matters of Education

Learning Happens Everywhere

Elephant and Donkey: An Unusual Election Year, MS

Length of Time:   Will vary based on presentations and daily check-ins


The two individuals who have captured their parties’ nominations are truly unlike any in US history. And not only because one of them never held political office and the other is the first woman and presidential spouse. Their personalities and histories are as much at issue as are their policies, perhaps even more so. Each candidate generates passion from their supporters and dread from their opponents.

How do we make sense of these candidates and this election season as educators and as citizens?

We suggest two broader contexts into which you might consider the candidates to help you approach this topic with your students:

  • the role of choice
  • the power of narrative

A final concern, regarding the nature of truth itself, highlights two issues of this election cycle. One is the integrity of the candidates. The other is agreement upon common factual elements, an increasingly difficult and rare occurrence in the highly partisan climate in which the candidates operate and often perpetuate.

Essential Questions

How do we approach difficult and unsavory topics with our students in ways that are meaningful and pedagogically useful?

Common Core Standards

English Language Arts: Anchor Standards: College and Career Readiness for Reading

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

  1. Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse formats and media, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.1
  2. Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.
  3. Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.

English Language Arts: History/Social Studies: Key Ideas and Details, 4-8

RH.4-8.1. Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.

RH.4-8.2. Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.

Content Standards

Massachusetts Curriculum Standards:

Grade 4:             North American Geography

People of the contemporary United States

Rights of Immigrants

Rights of Citizens

Grade 5:             US History, Geography, Economics and Government

Democratic Institutions and Ideas

US History 1: Revolution to Reconstruction

Basic Framework of Democracy and Concepts of American government