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## Scenario #6:
11th Grade Social Studies Teacher
*I created an activity for my students that involve election data from the second closest
presidential election in history-the 1960 election between John F. Kennedy and Richard
M. Nixon. This activity helped my students understand the Electoral College and some
of the strategies used by presidential candidates. I divided up m students into groups
and gave each a spreadsheet containing data from the 1960 presidential election. The
spreadsheet contained the popular and Electoral College results from every state and
territory. Formulas at the bottom of the columns calculated the total number of popular
votes and Electoral votes for each candidate. Each group was asked to conduct a
series of investigations by manipulating the spreadsheet data. The questions they
investigated include: “Can you change the data so that Mr. Nixon wins the election
rather than Mr. Kennedy?” “Can you change the outcome of the election by changing
the election results in only one state?” “Two states?” “Three states?” “Can you change
the popular vote so that one candidate wins the popular election but loses the Electoral
College results?” “Can you change the popular vote so that the same candidate loses
the popular vote but wins the election?” What is the fewest number of states you can
change to have one candidate win the popular vote but lose the election?” These “What
if?” activities helped my students gain an understanding of the Electoral College.*
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**Technology spectrum:** The questions that this teacher asks of her students are almost impossible to determine without the use of reasonably powerful computing technology. But with the spreadsheets, these students can see immediately the important changes that can occur following relatively small adjustments to the learning scenario.
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**Learning Spectrum:** This is a quite complicated assignment, made easy by the use of spreadsheets.
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**Rigor/relevance:** Understanding the vagaries of the electoral college is essential to becoming a responsible voter. As a "what if" game, this assignment is an excellent example of the adaptation quadrant (D).
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**Recommendation**: Allow students to follow in real-time a current election cycle, and compare their own predictions again Nate Silver at http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/.
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