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Link to the Lesson Plan and Materials 

Lesson Description: This lesson plan will illustrate a more negative view of how elections are run by using The Simpsons episode "Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish". The students will view the episode and take note on the different aspects of Mr. Burn's campaign. The class will use these observations to fuel the notes on the topic.






The Simpsons in Social Studies Lesson Plan

Author: Brian Adams

Subject: Government and Politics

Topics Covered: Elections, Campaigns

Length: 80 minutes, or two class periods.

Overview:

This lesson plan uses The Simpsons episode “Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish” to highlight how campaigns are run as well as how elections work. The episode can be used in its entirety, or in small segments. This lesson plan however, will use the entire episode. It will be better to use this episode after looking at a unit on elections and campaigns. It could alternately be used as a introduction piece.



Lesson Essential Question(s)

· What techniques can politicians use to make the public view their minor imperfections in a less negative light?

· What are some of the major elements of a political campaign, why are each so important?

Standards

· Pennsylvania State Standards for Government and Politics

o 5.3.8.D

o 5.3.8.E

Materials

· The Simpsons season 2, episode 7F01 “Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish”

· Graphic Organizer


Procedure


· Introduction

o Previous Knowledge: This lesson will work better if the class has already started learning about campaigns. They should already have a general knowledge of campaigns in general.

§ Major Parties – Democrat and Republican (students should have understanding of both parties and their typical platforms)

§ Campaign Issues – The class should already have talked about how major issues can influence an entire election.

§ Polls – Students should already have an understanding of political polls and the impact and importance of them.

§ Campaign Staff – Students should have viewed what comprises of a typical campaign staff.

§ Spin – Students should know how and why politicians can spin the truth.

§ Muckraking – How politicians look for any small infraction by the opponent to make them look worse.

§ Debate – Why debates are often extremely important in winning votes.

§ Commercials – How politicians can use TV in their favor.

o Have students come up with two elements of an election and write why they believe they are important.

o After they complete this assignment talk about why they believe these to be the most important.

Lesson

1. Introduce the students campaigning as seen on television. Have volunteers come up with examples from episodes of any show they can remember. Create a list on the board, and have students come up with the relation to their notes.

2. Next, introduce them to The Simpsons by asking if anyone can remember examples from the show that have been about elections or campaigns. If they can remember any, add them to the list on the board.

3. Ask the students how accurate the examples from television would be if compared to what the class has learned.

4. Tell the students that they are to compare an episode of The Simpsons to their notes on elections and campaigns.

5. Pass out the Graphic Organizer/Viewing Guide to the students and explain the directions before starting the video.

6. Start the video, be sure to pause it frequently to allow students time to write down what they need. Example: (stop the episode around 8:45 to allow students to take not of the main characters in Burns’ election committee)

7. After the video is complete, have the students write next to each of the references they noted how well they compare to the real thing.

8. Be sure to talk about each reference the students found.

Summary
o Have another worksheet with other The Simpsons, and television references on it. Have students come up with answers to it.

Assessment

o Homework will be to create their own campaign strategy to elect a television character of their choice.


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