Presidential Election Lesson Resources

PresElectionVThese are some resources I put together about the presidential election, way back in 2008. The focus of the class was less on the individual candidates and more on the process of the presidential election itself. It’s the process that often confuses international students. Finding information on the candidates is often the easiest part. A lot of newspapers publish articles such as, “Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump’s Economic Plans: A Comparison” with lots of tables and clear summaries. Those are great for ESL students!

Feel free to share your go-to election day resources in the comments

With any conversation class, you want to make sure you have lots of background information. When dealing with something as complicated as the US election for president, the class is going to have a lot of questions. So you either need to read up and bring materials to look up anything you didn’t memorize. Or you need resources that the students can read and research themselves.

Resources and Materials on the American Presidential Election

Read Article II of the Constitution which defines how a President is elected and the powers of the President. Links to relevant amendments are provided in the text.

Wikipedia also has the text of Article II with explanations in plain English. I wouldn’t recommend giving beginner or pre-intermediate students the original text of the Constitution because it is difficult. Better to summarize for them.

Presidential and VP Debate transcripts from 2008 to 1960. Provided by the Commission on Presidential Debates, a non-profit that sponsors the debates. An interesting conversation topic there: Should independent organizations sponsor debates?

Simplified readings on the candidates and the election process including a good explanation of the electoral college system.

If you have computers with the Internet in the classroom, All About Electing a President is a pretty good slideshow summary of the process from primary to election. And One Vote 2008:Election Playbook has more in-depth guides to topics such as delegates and primaries.

Lesson Plans on the American Presidential Election

The New York Times provides lesson plans based on relevant issues and linked to articles. Good materials and interesting ideas. I particularly like the ones on political humor and caricatures. However, students may not be used to that in their country. 

These lesson plans involves in-depth research on the political process in the US. The lesson plans here are best for intermediate-advanced students. Students also need access to the Internet or a good library. However, the worksheets are great for thinking of guiding questions or evaluating how much you know about the presidential elections.

Here are some conversation questions from Heads Up English on the Election 2008. And some are still quite relevant.

Fun Quizzes

The US Election Facts Quiz is a pretty interesting. This quiz will help students find out if they are a Democrat or a Republican. International students in particular enjoy that because they can understand the meaning of the American political parties.


Whose Is It? An activity to practice possessive pronouns | English with Jennifer

This is another collection of activities to practice possessive pronouns. The one described in the post is really fun. I’ve done things like it before. I’ve even done variations where I just take stuff off of student’s desks, which makes them laugh very hard (and can be a great way to bust a student who is reading a book in class or texting on their cellphone).

The one I ended up adapting is the “Whose Is It?” handout and it’s just been updated to be more workable online, which is nice. But it would make a great in-class exercise as well.

Whose Is It? An activity to practice possessive pronouns | English with Jennifer

Visual Design for Writers

I have been developing my Resources for Writing page and I haven’t forgotten about my passion for Visual Design and Resource Writing. In fact, I’ve added a visual design resource list including some nice presentations from Purdue University’s OWL page and a fun set of activities that highlight the role of color and our associations with them. Feel free to add more in the comments!

Writing Inspiration

Materials Writing does have a creative side, believe it or not. You do have to come up with stories and topics and fake names and website addresses. I’ve been slowly accumulating places where I like to go to find fake names or topics or sample dialogues to follow.

  • Fictional Universities and Colleges Just a fun list of famous fictional universities and colleges. Easily changeable by adding a North, South or New to the end.
  • Anagram Maker A fun way to take a well-known word or brand and turn it into something new. PS My name anagrams to Laws Burnt On!
  • List of Names and Meanings A place to find names.
  • Foreign Names on A google search that takes you to sites on different foreign names in case you need a typical Chinese or Muslim or French name.
  • University of British Columbia student news on Youtube Great source of student friendly topics.
  • Shaun Roundy on Youtube An English professor with a good source of student friendly writing advice and actually a couple of recorded classes for authentic conversation and interaction.

How to Write for ELT Magazines

This is a wonderful video that presents a very clear outline of how to write an article that can get published in a magazine like Voices or TESOL Connections, written by the editor of IATEFL Voices, Alison Schwetlick.

I really like the outline that she lays out and I’ve used it for every article I’ve written since then–and both of those got published. Which doesn’t sound very encouraging until I tell you that I’d never had any articles published before. Her template is as follows in case you haven’t got time to read the article:

  1. Lay out the context–why did you come up with this idea? What need did you have to make this lesson plan or activity? Why did you want to do this research?
  2. Tell what others have said–link it to the research or pre-existing ideas and practices.
  3. Show how it works, how it applies to the classroom, which is easy for a lesson plan or activity.
  4. Link it to a wider context–where else could this idea be used? How could it be adapted? What are the limitations? What’s the next step?

How to write for IATEFL Voices and other English teaching magazines with Alison Schwetlick

Materials Writer Blog

Hey, just a quick note that I have become the semi-self appointed moderator of the blog of the Materials Writing Interest Section of TESOL. You can check out the blog here: I will be posting events and news and resources over there. It’s also open to guest articles and resource sharing, so feel free to check it out.

Also, anyone is welcome to jump in with moderating and administering. I am open to any and all suggestions on anything from the color scheme to features. And especially open to offers of help!


Teaching Basic Computer Literacy Handout

Typing NinjaMy first webinar on teaching typing and basic word processing skills was a lot of fun! It seems like people enjoyed it. I think the take away was anything, even word processing, can be fun if you make it a race or a challenge. Also, every country has its own keyboard layout, not to mention alphabet, so there’s no shame in being a hunt-and-peck typer in another language!

If you want to check out the websites and model activities that I talked about, here’s my handout: What’s_a_Word_Processor_Teacher.

I also have some other resources I’ve discussed on teaching typing and text-formatting and word processing. These might be repetitive, but check them out:

  • A post on Microsoft’s fun game that has poor Clippy looking for new work and students exploring Office 2010 in a very independent and creative way: Ribbon Hero
  • More ways to teach Word Processing, with a lot of overlap from my handout.
  • A webquest which is better at teaching Google-fu (or Internet skills) but takes some basic typing as well.
  • And some ideas for interactive writing including using Twine, which is a wicked fun program!

And here are some resources that others have blogged about:

  • Via TESOL Blog, Dance Mat Typing which teaches typing with a rock-and-roll theme and when you make a mistake, the keys shout out “type on me”!


Feel free to check back in and let me know how you used or adapted these activities in your classroom or with your students.