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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Mock conventions!


Electing a President: An Instructional Simulation

Here's a great resource giving students the opportunity to learn about political conventions by taking part in the process! In this mock convention instructional simulation, students take on the role of a delegate to a political convention, and run a model convention. Students learn various aspects of our election process, and how each step is interdependent.

Included in this curriculum

  • Teacher role and checklist
  • Student roles and sample worksheets (delegate and issue committee member)
  • Delegate sheet (sample)
  • History
  • Functions of Conventions
  • Historic Conventions
  • Location of Conventions
  • Political Conventions Day to Day
  • Resources
  • GenerationNation k12in2012 through Inauguration Day

More than Democrat and Republican

During Campaign 2012, there are nine political conventions taking place throughout the United States.  Additionally, there could be many candidates from parties on the November 2012 ballot, and the possibility of another 4 independent candidates (without party affiliation).  This is why it is important for our students to understand the process we go through in America to elect a president and other leaders within our great country.

Instructional simulations

Instructional simulations give students an opportunity to have a deeper understanding of learning through the process of conducing the simulation.

What's the key element that differentiates instructional simulation from other teaching methods? The specification of a conceptual structure within which students interact and experience - firsthand - the relationships between concepts.

Critical thinking and creative thinking

This simulation of political conventions involves both critical thinking and creative thinking:
  • Critical thinking is analytical, objective and selective.  When students think critically, they make choices based on researched information and from personal experiences.
  • Creative thinking is generative, subjective and expansive.  When students think creatively, they are open to and generate new ideas.
  • Each way of thinking is helpful as students’ process information and demonstrates their understanding by producing a product that conveys that understanding.


Don Mitchell, Social Studies Specialist in the Department of Humanities in Curriculum and Instruction at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

Learn more

Download complete curriculum
Download flyer about k12in2012 and putting civics into action

Friday, May 25, 2012

Kids Convention 2012 - Fun free family event June 2



Fun, free educational and entertaining event for K-8 students and their parents or guardians

Please join us on June 2 for Kids Convention 2012. This exciting, non-partisan, family friendly event - sponsored by Charlotte in 2012, EpiCentre, and GenerationNation - gives kids the opportunity to experience civics in action and learn more about the upcoming national convention.

The event is free and open to the public. Registration is recommended.

For curriculum, additional learning opportunities and more, visit

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

An educational opportunity of a lifetime

This year, K-12 students have a rare chance to learn about, watch and experience civics, government and leadership in action.

Today's students will one day become the leaders of our communities and nation. What, and how, they learn is critical to the vitality of America's democracy and the economy of the 21st century. Together, let's prepare them in the most effective way possible.

How can you or your organization make a difference? By donating today to GenerationNation! You'll give students - and our schools and community - the advantage of K-12 civic literacy through smart, fun, engaging, educational and always nonpartisan programs and activities.

Charlotte takes the world stage

The path to Charlotte's role as host of the Democratic National Convention didn't begin when national party leaders first solicited bids from prospective cities. It began when smart civic leaders had an idea, put it into motion, and helped to lead Charlotte to the world stage.

Knowledge, active citizenship and civic leadership

At GenerationNation, that's just the kind of knowledge, can-do attitude, active citizenship and civic leadership we hope to instill in K-12 students. Through fun, educational and engaging programs that connect the classroom with hands-on learning opportunities, GenerationNation, a nonpartisan nonprofit (501c3) organization, educates K-12 students to lead in their schools, communities and nation.
Your contributions help GenerationNation to:
  • Impact over 5,000 classrooms through lessons and activities tied to Common Core and NC standards for grades K-12.
  • Directly engage over 100,000 Charlotte-area students in smart, fun civic learning opportunities.
  • Build tomorrow's civic leaders through effective hands-on programs that connect hundreds of teens with government, civic engagement and leadership.

Charlotte's K-12 civic education champion

Importantly, as Charlotte's K-12 civic education champion for the last 20 years, GenerationNation will continue the legacy of Charlotte in 2012 into the future. That's long after debates of the city's best BBQ sauce have ended and the last bunting has been rolled up, saved for another day.

Give K-12 students an educational opportunity of a lifetime

Will you help GenerationNation give K-12 students an educational opportunity of a lifetime? Donate today!

See photos of GenerationNation at work

Monday, May 21, 2012

Three Branches of Government (for Kids)

Why are there 3 branches of government? Our country's Founding Fathers, the people who wrote the US Constitution, did not want any one person or group to have too much power. So, they divided the government into 3 branches. Each one has a different role, responsibility and power.
  • The Executive branch includes the President and the Vice President, plus the leaders who head different parts of government and who help the President make decisions (The Cabinet). The President approves laws, and ensures the country follows them.
  • The Judicial branch includes the court system, with the Supreme Court having the highest (most) power. The courts decide how laws are used and what they mean.
  • The Legislative branch includes Congress, made up of the House of Representatives and the Senate. In this branch, leaders create laws.
Did you know that there are also 3 branches in state and local government? This is done for the same reasons!
North Carolina
Mecklenburg, Charlotte and towns

Learn more

Ben's Guide to US Government
Separation of Powers
> US Constitution
> NC Constitution

Friday, May 18, 2012

Civic Literacy: Read all About it!

We know 2012 is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for students to learn about civics, government and leadership, right? Here's a great way to do it - reading!
The awesome Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library has created lists of HUNDREDS of books, digital media and websites about topics ranging from citizenship, civic engagement, government, leadership, elections and voting, Washington DC, North Carolina and more. You can create your own reading list!

Preschool and beginning readers


Grades K-5

Media (CDs, DVDs, online resources)
Books about North Carolina
Websites about North Carolina

Grades 6-12


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Courts and Law

Did you know that the legal system is included in each of the 3 branches of government?
  • The Legislative branch creates the laws
  • The Executive branch makes the laws official, signing them into law
  • The Judicial branch enacts and enforces the laws
Branches of government exist at the federal, or national level, as well as the state and local levels. In federal government, judges are appointed, not elected. However, in North Carolina state government, most judges are elected. They'll be on the ballot in November!
Do you know how the North Carolina Court System works? To get you started, here is a great resource from the Trial Court Administrator's office at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse.

Download this PDF presentation

Great handout from Civic Education Consortium

Friday, May 11, 2012

Do Rules of Civility matter?

Before he was 16, George Washington thought about the rules effective citizens and leaders use for their own conduct

Sometime before he was 16, George Washington thought about and wrote down "Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour In Company and Conversation".  They include:

  • Every Action done in Company, ought to be with Some Sign of Respect, to those that are Present.
  • Sleep not when others Speak, Sit not when others stand, Speak not when you Should hold your Peace, walk not on when others Stop.
  • Think before you Speak pronounce not imperfectly nor bring out your Words too hastily but orderly & distinctly.
(Remember, writing and spelling looked a little differently back then.)
Some of the "rules" are about simple manners, while others involve life skills including communications, persuasion, critical thinking and leadership. Did Washington remember those rules when he became the first President of the United States? Many scholars say yes. What do you think?

Learning opportunity

Incorporate the Rules of Civility into your classroom or dinner table discussion
  • Review George Washington's 110 Rules of Civility - do they still apply today? Why or why not?
  • Write your own Rules of Civility. What's most important to you, and why?
  • How important are rules of civility today? Is it old-fashioned, or relevant?
  • How do politics and civility go together? Should a political campaign follow rules of civility? Does that give them an advantage, or disadvantage? How would you advise a candidate or official to adopt (or ignore) rules of civility?
  • Think about candidates and people already in elected office. Do their actions follow George Washington's Rules of Civility? Your rules? Why or why not? Do they make up their own?
  • Does media and technology make it easier or harder to follow rules of civility? Why?
  • Tell us YOUR #1 Rule of Civility, and name an elected official or candidate who exhibits that quality, and why. With a #k12in2012 tag, post it on Facebook, tell us on Twitter or make and upload a YouTube video

Learn more

Library of Congress
George Washington's 110 Rules of Civility
Do you follow the rules? Lessons in Leadership

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

5 tips for being a good voter


1. LEARN about the candidates

Start with an issue you care about (education, environment, jobs, healthcare, etc.) and then find information about the candidates and their views on that issue.
Great places to look are the candidate websites, news sources such as C-SPAN, debates, and information at

2. THINK about the information

As you are thinking, ask questions
  • Is  this information helpful?
  • Is it from a good, truthful source? Does it fit with other facts you know? How does it make you feel?
  • Do you have enough information to make a decision? (if not, find more information!
Tip: In an election, focus more on the individual candidates, their ideas and solutions  - and less on the political parties and their platforms

3. DECIDE: Choose a candidate

Review what you have learned about the candidates - did they share ideas and solutions, or mostly complain about the opposing candidate?
Decide which one you most agree with. Based on the information you know, do you think the candidate will do a good job?


Every election, it is important to cast a ballot to make your voice heard!
Each area has a Board of Elections (North Carolina and Mecklenburg County) - find it on the web for information about voting in your area. Make family voting a habit. (In the  Charlotte area, students can cast a vote through the Kids Voting election!)

5. STAY ENGAGED: Keep paying attention and being involved

Once you vote, are you finished? NO!
  • After the election, look for the official election results.
  • Keep track of the winning candidates  - do they keep their campaign promises? do they make good decisions?
  • Stay involved - watch or attend government meetings, keep up with the news, and contact elected officials about issues you care about.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

GenerationNation offers k12in2012


Resource for K-12 students, teachers, parents

2012 is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for K-12 students to experience civics, government and leadership! GenerationNation’s k12in2012 website  - -  connects K-12 students with Election 2012 and civics in action through smart, fun and engaging educational resources and activities.

Nonpartisan resources and activities will take place through the Inauguration in January 2013, and include:
  • Educational tools, curriculum and activities
  • News and kid-friendly activities related to the conventions and Election 2012
  • Opportunities for students to put civics into action by communicating with officials, casting votes in the Kids Voting mock election (NC primary and general election), and sharing their photos and videos throughout the year
As Charlotte’s K-12 civic education champion for the last 20 years, GenerationNation (formerly known as Kids Voting Mecklenburg) is a nonprofit (501c3) organization that educates and engages K-12 students to succeed and lead in their schools, communities and nation. Through a combination of classroom activities and experiential learning opportunities, GenerationNation educates students about government, civic participation and leadership. Programs help students in school, build their civic literacy and develop young people as effective citizens and leaders. Current programs include K-12 civic education, Youth Civics, Youth Voice Leadership Alliance, Kids Voting, #k12in2012, and other initiatives.

For more information about GenerationNation, contact or visit