8th Graders Adopt States to Study Ahead of the 2020 Election

The history curriculum for 8th grade U.S. history starts off on a content-rich tour of our early history. Students investigate the lead-up to the War of Independence, explore the geography and culture of the colonial scene, and end up with a detailed look at the dynamics of the Constitutional Convention of 1787. The 8th graders have now begun a long focus on the events leading up to the Civil War, including the treatment of Native Americans, the geographic expansion to California, and how the failure to deal with the issue of slavery came back to impact every major event of the time period. Interspersed with this concentration, students also study important Supreme Court cases and how and why amendments to the Constitution are accomplished.  

"This year has demanded a double focus," said teacher David Jefferies, "so that as we study the past we also need to do justice to the swirling events of the 2020 election. I wanted the students to get beyond the election as seen from our particular city and see the election in its national context."

Mr. Jefferies chose twenty states, five from each quadrant of the United States, and asked the students to investigate the election from the perspective of that state. They began by learning about their states—its demographics, congressional districts, and its history on the red-purple-blue continuum—and then went on to do research on both the presidential polls and the polls on the many states that are having senatorial elections. They have made provisional predictions about how they think their elections will turn out and have had a chance to learn about some of the other states and their elections. They will update their predictions twice before November 3 just after the end of our first quarter.

"Seeing the past clearly can only help us understand our present circumstances, and actively being engaged in the present can only lead us to want to understand the roots that stretch back into our history," added Mr. Jefferies.

You can check out two example Google slide shows from the twenty that the students have done here and here. We hope you enjoy them.