Electoral College Lesson Plan for 8th Grade Students

Topic: Electoral College

Objectives & Outcomes

  • Students will be able to describe the Electoral College and explain its purpose and function.
  • Students will be able to identify and describe at least three criticisms of using the Electoral College today.


  • PowerPoint presentation with pictures and information about the Electoral College (or access to a similar resource)
  • Handouts with the three main criticisms of using the Electoral College today
  • Copies of the Constitution for each student


  • Ask students if they have ever heard of the Electoral College before. What do they know about it?
  • Write the following words on the board: president, election, popular vote, plurality. Have students use their dictionaries to find the meanings of each word.

Direct Instruction

  • Explain that the Electoral College is a system that was created by the framers of the U.S. Constitution to elect the president.
  • Distribute the handout with information about the Electoral College. Have students read through the information and ask questions if they have any.
  • Discuss the three criticisms of using the Electoral College today: it gives more weight to votes in certain states over others, it can lead to a president being elected despite losing the popular vote, and it can lead to a candidate winning despite receiving fewer votes than their opponent.

Guided Practice

  • Divide the class into pairs or small groups. Give each group a copy of a fictional election ballot showing the candidates, their political parties, and the number of votes each candidate received.
  • Have the groups use the information from the handout and their fictional election ballot to answer the following questions:
  • Which candidate is most likely to win the election using the Electoral College system?
  • Why?
  • What are the pros and cons of this candidate winning?
  • Can you think of any ways to improve the Electoral College system?

Independent Practice

  • Have students work in small groups to create their own fictional election ballot for their class. Each ballot should include at least three candidates and should include information about each candidate's political party.
  • Have each group present their election ballot to the class and explain their choices.


  • Review the main points of the lesson, including the purpose of the Electoral College, how it works, and the criticisms of using it today.
  • Ask students to share their thoughts on the Electoral College and whether they think it should be used in modern presidential elections.


  • Observe students during the group presentation and take notes on their participation and understanding of the topic.
  • Collect and grade the written reflections as a formative assessment.
  • Administer a quiz at a later date to assess retention of the information covered in the lesson.

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