Using the Midterms as a Teachable Moment

This week, the Illinois Civics Hub (ICH) welcomed back Dr. Shawn P. Healy, Senior Director, Policy and Advocacy at iCivics and Adjunct Professor of Public Policy at the University of Illinois- Chicago to help teachers prepare to teach about the midterm elections. Dr. Healy is the first presenter in a series on webinars using the 2022 Midterms as a teachable moment for civic learning and media literacy.

The Illinois Civics Course requirements at both middle and high school require the use of pedagogical practice such as simulations of democratic processes, current and societal issue discussions, and informed action through service learning. Foundational to each of these proven practices is classroom instruction on democratic institutions. Dr. Healy’s presentation provided a wealth of information to help teachers to teach about the democratic institutions that support voting and elections to help students better understand the underpinnings of our constitutional republic. The presentation addressed:

  • Races to watch in the state of Illinois
  • Implications of the midterm elections on the U.S. House and Senate as well as President Biden’s agenda.
  • The effects of redistricting and gerrymandering
  • The possible impact of new state legislation on voting and elections

If you missed the webinar, you can access a recording on the ICH Webinar Archive.

Election season is mock election season for many schools. According to the Guardians of Democracy report, young people can practice citizenship by playing roles in simulations. Games and other simulations contribute to civic learning by allowing young people to act in fictional environments in ways that would be impossible for them in the real world. Games and simulations can be constructed so as to be highly engaging and motivating while also requiring advanced academic skills and constructive interaction with other students under challenging circumstances (34). 

The Illinois Civics Hub would like to help YOU design a safe and successful mock election for your school. On Wednesday, Wednesday, February 9th from 3:30-4:45 p.m., you can join Dr. Jane Lo, assistant professor of teacher education at Michigan State University, to learn more about her research around the use of simulations for civic learning in the classroom. Come and get your questions answered about how to create equitable opportunities for rigorous and relevant civic learning through simulations like mock elections. Register now for our webinar, The Rigor, and Relevance of Simulations of Democratic Processes with Dr. Jane Lo. For a complete list of PD offerings, visit the ICH Professional Development calendar.

The Illinois Civics Hub and the Illinois Democracy School Network are joining Kids Voting USA to provide classrooms throughout Illinois with the opportunity to participate in the Kids Voting Illinois Statewide Mock Election to help demystify democratic institutions that gird our republic by providing an opportunity for students to apply civic knowledge, skills, and dispositions in a safe and supportive context.

Schools that participate in this simulation of a democratic process will be connected to:

  • A ballot tailored to their region with candidates for governor, U.S. House, U.S. Senate,  IL House, IL Senate, and the Illinois Supreme Court.
  • Cross-curricular resources to facilitate school-wide mock elections
  • A secure voting platform through Double Click Democracy that is SOPPA compliant to protect student privacy. Students can vote via electronic or paper ballot.
  • Post-election results to analyze your school’s vote with other schools in your region, state, and nation.

Democracy is NOT a spectator sport! Register your school TODAY for the Kids Voting Illinois Statewide mock election and share it with your friends. Together, we can prepare students for college, career, and civic life.