Civics Education Resource Site

Post-Election Resources for Classrooms

The 2020 election season has come with its share of twists and turns. IllinoisCivics.org is committed to supporting classrooms in processing the election. Below are resources to help address common questions you and your students might have at this critical juncture in the history of our republic.

strategies to discuss the election and its aftermath with students

An IllinoisCivics.org blog post from October 2020 shared resources from Teaching Tolerance, Facing History and Ourselves, Project Zero, iCivics, and more to help classrooms reflect, revisit norms, and have ongoing civil dialogue about the election.

What happens before, during, and after votes are cast to ensure free and fair elections?

Facing History and Ourselves has an explainer describing the essential steps taken throughout the election process.

What's the Timeline for Each State to Count Their Ballots?

FiveThirtyEight created a resource about when to expect election results in every state. You can also visit the website to see the latest returns.

What are the Deadlines for Election Results to be Finalized?

Street Law created an infographic explaining what happens between the 78 days between election day and inauguration day.

providing students with a deeper understanding of the Electoral College

The IllinoisCivics.org Election 2020 Toolkit has a plethora of resources classrooms can use to explore how the Electoral College works.

helping students understand how the peaceful transfer of power is designed to work

iCivics designed an infographic around the Peaceful Transfer of Power and the Bill of Rights Institute published this timely lesson on Contentious Elections and the Peaceful Transfer of Power.

How has the Supreme Court of the United States been involved in the election up to now?

Street Law has created a timeline of SCOTUS cases in the 2020 elections.

What role might the courts play in settling election results?

The ABA Division for Public Education has partnered with Dr. Steven D. Schwinn, Professor of Law at the University of Illinois at Chicago John Marshall Law school to provide timely updates for teachers on their YouTube channel.

What supports are available for teachers in this ongoing election season?

  • A series of post-election webinars are available for viewing in the Webinar Archive. Each webinar has an accompanying blog with resources.
  • The Teaching for Democracy Alliance hosted a Social Studies Chat on Twitter that is archived with resources shared.
  • Many of our civic learning partners are hosting professional development opportunities for teachers. Visit the Professional Development Calendar to find out more.

Did the youth vote make a difference?

Our friends at the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) are analyzing the data and updating their Election Week 2020 documenting youth turnout and impact in battleground states daily.

What does it mean to be a "lame duck"?

A recent Civics 101 Podcast has a brief explainer of what it means to be a "lame duck."
C-SPAN Classroom has a bell-ringer activity to start the conversation using a political cartoon.

What is a concession speech?

  • Civics 101 Podcast breaks down the components of a concession speech.
  • Politico provides video clips of past concession speeches from both sides of the aisle while Poynter provides an overview of The Art of the Concession Speech and why they are important.

How does the transition between presidents work?

How do Presidential Pardons Work?

  • The Bill of Rights Institute has an e-lesson, Mr. President, Pardon Me that explores the foundations of the presidential pardon in the U.S. Constitution, as well as how and why this power has been exercised throughout history.
  • iCivics has a mini-lesson on the Pardon Power that also explores commutations and the limitations on these presidential powers.
  • C-Span Classroom has a lesson on pardons with historical video clips.

addressing questions related to voter fraud and voter suppression

What does the President's Cabinet do? How does one become a member of the Cabinet?

  • Civics 101 Podcast from New Hampshire Public Radio has an episode that explains the role of the Cabinet. They also have an Executive Branch Starter Kit with a mnemonic device students can use to learn the executive departments in order of creation.
  • KQED has a lesson plan about the President's Cabinet.
  • A Very Big Branch from iCivics helps students learn how the executive departments and agencies regulate and enforce governmental policies, and they explore the roles and responsibilities of the presidential cabinet.
  • C-Span Classroom has a Bell Ringer about the Role of the President's Cabinet.
  • Politico, the Washington Post, and The New York Times all recently did pieces speculating who might serve in President-elect Joe Biden's Cabinet.

What is a "faithless elector?"

  • The Bill of Rights Institute has created a lesson plan, "Faithless Electors and Electing the Executive" that has students explore the processes used to select members of the Electoral College and analyze the responsibilities of electors in our election system.
  • Street Law has resources for students to explore the recent SCOTUS case Chiafalo v. Washington. This case challenged a Washington State "faithless elector" fine.

the significance of the first 100 days of a presidency

  • For over two centuries, American political offices have peacefully transferred power after every election. Use this infographic from iCivics to show students how precedent, tradition, and legitimacy have helped create this democratic norm. Consider the importance of a peaceful transfer of power and why it is important to a democratic form of government.
  • The FDR Library provides a historical perspective of the first 100 days of a presidency during times of crisis.
  • The First 100 Days lesson from our civic learning partners at Mikva Challenge has students identify what they think should be the top priorities for the new President and Vice President of the United States and how they should use their first 100 days to make an impact. Students will also explore the idea of political capital.
  • The History Channel has "fast facts" on the "First 100 Days."
  • How does Washington's First 100 Days stack up against his successors? This lesson from Mt. Vernon helps students explore this question.
  • This 4 minute interview from NPR answers listener questions about the importance of a president's first 100 days.
  • NYT Upfront Magazine has a middle school level appropriate article on the challenges facing Joe Biden, which can provide a needed context to Biden’s 100 day promises.
  • PBS News Hour has video resources and can be used to teach remotely hybrid or traditional environments.

resources to engage students in the upcoming inauguration

  • ADL shares seven ideas for teaching about the inauguration.
  • EDSITEment has a lesson plan, Presidential Inaugurations: I do solemnly swear, that helps students reflect on what the Presidential inauguration has become and what it has been, while they meet a host of memorable historical figures and uncover a sense of America's past through archival materials.
  • Teacher Vision has resources highlighting Inaugural Poetry.

The role of Congress in settling Electoral College disputes?

resources to help classrooms process the recent violence at the U.S. capitol

  • Facing History and Ourselves created a Teaching Idea: Responding to Insurrection at the U.S. Capitol with strategies to support educators and students.
  • The Social Studies Chat Network hosted a special discussion where educators crowdsourced resources for classroom use.
  • The Bill of Rights Institute created a playlist of resources considering principles, processes, and examples of constitutionally guided transitions of power.
  • Share My Lesson from AFT has curated video clips and lesson plans to help facilitate meaningful discussions with students and communities about the attempt of a mob to infiltrate the capital and impede election certification in Washington, DC, and to put a focus on how crucial the foundations of democracy are to the preservation of a functional government.
  • Three ways to teach the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol from PBS News Hour Extra includes video, text, and discussion questions.
  • The Conversation has a powerful piece, How should schools teach kids about what happened at the US Capitol on Jan. 6? We asked 6 education experts.

the significance of the 25th Amendment

Resources to help students understand terms such as insurrection, sedition, treason, and coups

Helping students understand how the impeachment process works

The role of the National Guard

  • Civics 101 Podcast has a brief primer on the history and role of the National Guard.
  • Civics 101 Podcast has an overview of the Posse Comitatus Act, passed in 1878 to prevent the military from enforcing laws.
  • Share My Lesson has a lesson on the Mobilization of the National Guard Amid Protests.

further reading to help students process the results of the election