In One Big Party?, students learn about the many roles of political parties. After taking a broad picture look at the different hats parties wear, students take a quick look at the impact of political party systems. On day two, guide students through the impact of the two major political parties in the United States. From examining the political spectrum to analyzing their own stances on several current issues, students will walk away understanding the complexity of the two-party system.
Students will be able to:
ANTICIPATE the lesson by asking your class to name the two major political parties in the United States. Then ask whether they can name any other political parties. Assuming they have trouble with this, ask why they think it is so hard to name other parties.
DISTRIBUTE reading pages 1-2 to the class and read through both pages with the class, pausing to review new vocabulary and reinforce new concepts.
DISTRIBUTE review pages 1-2 to the class.
PROJECT the “Strengths & Weaknesses” transparency, working through completing the chart.
EXPLAIN the “Party Systems Strengths and Weaknesses” activity. Tell students that you will project nine statements. The students must decide as a class if the statement is a strength or weakness of a party system. They must then decide if it applies to one-, two-, or multi-party systems. Students should then write the italicized phrase in the appropriate place on the “Party Systems” chart on their review worksheets.
ASSIGN the rest of the review pages after reviewing the instructions for the rest of the activities. Allow students to complete these as a class, in small groups, or individually.
REVIEW student work aloud as a check for understanding.
PROJECT the “Political Spectrum” transparency. Use the Political Spectrum Activity Guide to introduce the concept to students.
DISTRIBUTE the political parties packet. Read the first page as a class, pausing to review new vocabulary and reinforce new concepts.
ASSIGN activity pages 1-2, allowing students to complete these as a class, in small groups, or individually.
CLOSE the class by reminding students that political leanings and affiliations are very personal decisions and the views of political parties are broad and vary over time.