This contentious election year, there has been a lot of attention paid to the importance of civic education, but for educators, it can be tricky to know how to get started. A new, nonpartisan film series from Vulcan Productions and Show of Force -- in partnership with FilmBuff -- can help secondary teachers engage young people in the political process and inspire them to get involved.
We The Voters: 20 Films for the People seeks to inform young people -- and anyone else who wants to better understand what’s at stake in the current election -- about how U.S. democracy works. 10 of the 20 films, along with educator materials from PBS LearningMedia, are available now. The rest will be released in October -- just in time for the final sprint to the November election. Now, let's all get out there and vote!
Video Playlist: We The Voters
We've selected six highlights from the 20 films in the series. Watch the first video below, or watch the whole playlist on YouTube.
- Disrupt Lobbying (04:51)
How do lobbyists influence the political process? MTV correspondent Josh Horowitz gets to the bottom of this important question. Get this: lobbyists can serve food to members of Congress, but only if it can be picked up on a toothpick.
- Why We March (04:58)
Do political protests make a difference? In this documentary-style video, learn about the history of activism and civil disobedience in the U.S., take a look at the purpose of political protests, and learn more about what engaged citizens can accomplish.
- How to Master Debate (04:16)
What are the standard debate tricks used by politicians? Creating doubt, appealing to emotion, shifting blame, taking quotes out of context -- Richard Kind and Josh Malina unpack some common tactics by way of a mock debate. Be sure to check out the related educator materials.
- Citizen Next (05:16)
Why don’t more legal immigrants become U.S. citizens? Learn about citizenship requirements and listen to moving first-person perspectives on citizenship -- in both English and Spanish -- with a special focus on Latino immigrants.
- Mediaocracy (05:33)
How does social media shape political opinions? Breaking free of the social media news bubbles so many of us inhabit can be tricky, but the media experts in this video have some great advice on how to get started.
- Hot Tips to Rock the Ballot Booth (03:46)
Why do local elections matter? In her signature style, YouTube vlogger Grace Helbig explains why it’s important to consider and evaluate choices at the bottom of the ballot. State and local elections can have a big impact on your day-to-day life!
More Resources to Support Civic Education and Engagement
With digital media, young people have more ways than ever before to team up, get their voices heard, and make change. And there are a ton of resources out there that can help educators encourage young people to get involved in the process. Here are more resources from We The Voters, as well as a few other favorites:
- We The Voters website
- #WeTheVoters on Twitter
- Election Central From PBS LearningMedia
- Letters to the Next President 2.0 via The National Writing Project
- #CivicVoices via TeachersGuild and ASCD: How Do We Prepare Civically Powerful Students?
- #MyParty16 Election Project
- Educators on Teaching Election 2016 via The New York Times' The Learning Network
- Election 2016: Lesson Plans and Digital Resources for Educators via Edutopia