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Civics In Action! Resources


Below you will find resources that will help students prepare for their roles as student journalists at the Iowa Caucuses.


Kahn Academy Primer on the Caucus and Primary System


This short Khan Academy video (8mn) explains how states choose their delegates for the national party conventions. 


We also suggest this video (11mn) on the role of the electoral college in the presidential election process.


The Iowa Presidential Caucuses Course


This is a free, four week course about the Iowa Caucuses facilitated by  Dr. Steffen Schmidt, University Professor of political science at Iowa State University. The course is more appropriate for adults. It is based on four, 10-15mn videos and discussion forums. 


The Des Moines Register "3 Tickets" Podcast


The Des Moines Register “Three Tickets” is a 10-episode podcast about the history and culture of Iowa’s caucuses. The series draws on more than 30 interviews with national political figures and Iowans to tell an expansive, engrossing story of Iowa’s first-in-the-nation presidential contest. It explores the caucuses origins, their significance, and how they’re experienced by candidates, activists, journalists, and others. Every episode is rich with storytelling by people who experienced presidential history firsthand.


Essential Political Vocabulary


As the students prepare for their Iowa Caucuses trip they should become familiar with essential political jargon. Examples include:


Populist, Super Delegates, Stump Speech, Soap Box, Red State, Pollster, Lame Duck, War Chest, Super Pac


Scholastic has assembled a good list HERE and Teacher Vision has a good list HERE (pdf)


Do Children Just Take Their Parents' Political Beliefs? It's Not That Simple



A recent study shows that children who are raised to have strong beliefs are also more likely to rebel against those views as they age.


It’s understandable that parents with strong beliefs would feel it is their duty to see their children adopt those beliefs. But, however well-meaning these efforts are, they may be in vain. A study recently published in the British Journal of Political Science, based on data from the U.S. and U.K., found that parents who are insistent that their children adopt their political views inadvertently influence their children to abandon the belief once they become adults. The mechanism is perhaps surprising: Children who come from homes where politics is a frequent topic of discussion are more likely to talk about politics once they leave home, exposing them to new viewpoints—which they then adopt with surprising frequency.



Truth in Politics


If parents want to engage their kids on political issues and encourage them to question what they hear in American politics, this could be a good place to start. The politifact website evaluates the accuracy of political statements and provides both a visual and content rating that identifies whether or not the speaker is telling the truth. There's some criticism of the site from both conservatives and liberals, but all the ratings are explained and all sources are provided. (h/t commonsense media)


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