Saturday, 17 January 2009

Obama vs. McCain - Election 2008

I guess most of you have covered the US Election '08 this year, and that you have done so in various ways. Even though our curriculum does not specifically say that the students have to know how the political system in the US works, I do believe that some knowledge of this is important. After all, we are heavily influenced by the USA here in Norway, and we cannot be indifferent to what is going on in the political life "over there". As an introduction to the topic I therefore asked my students to read a text called "13 questions on politics in the USA", and tried to tell them something about how the political system in the USA works. I also found various webpages that explained the election process. I deliberatly gave the students several texts on this topic, and made sure the texts had different levels of difficulty. One I found on, another on (believe it or not!), whereas the last page is totally meant for kids, but nevertheless working quite well with my 16 year olds.

Together with my colleagues we also decided to do a project on the two running presidential candidates, Obama and McCain. My two classes were both split into seven groups and each group got one key topic from the campaign that they were to present. The assignment was that the groups should find as much information as possible on these topics, and present the candidates' point of view. We also wanted them to tell why these issues were so central in the campaign, the historical background, etc. It was important to me that the presentations should be more than just a presentation of the two candidates, and I think most of the groups did quite well. I had also encouraged the groups to chose other ways of presenting their material than just using power point presentations. I must have done something wrong here, however, because only one of the 14 groups I listened to had chosen to do something different. This group had made a role play in which they had a television debate. This was entertaining and fun for the others to watch, too. I also found that they had managed to find quite a lot of material to present, and that they used a language that was adapted to the situation and to the audience. What about the other groups? 13 power point presentations, some quite good, others just boring... Anyway, at the end of the project I asked all of the students to write a closing argument for one of the candidates in which they commented on all of the seven topics that had been presented, and it turned out that most of the students had actually learned quite a lot from working on this project.


No comments:

Post a Comment