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Gerrymandering Lesson Plan

Instructor: Sharon Linde
Use this Study.com lesson plan to help your students define and learn the history of gerrymandering. See examples of the political practice in the lesson and then have students participate in a research project.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • define 'gerrymandering'
  • give examples of the practice
  • demonstrate understanding of gerrymandering
  • share and defend opinion on gerrymandering

Length:

  • 1 hour

Key Vocabulary

  • Gerrymandering
  • Packing
  • Crackling

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.10

By the end of grade 12, read and comprehend history/social studies texts in the grades 11-CCR text complexity band independently and proficiently.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.1

Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11-12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.2

Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.11-12.4

Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grades 11-12 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.

Instructions

  • Show students a map of your state that details congressional districts. Talk about the size and shape of the districts and wonder with your students why and how they are determined.
  • Ask students to respond to the prompt 'What does it mean to be American?' in writing or orally. Share ideas.
  • Tell students they will be learning about the political practice of gerrymandering. Share prior knowledge and define the term.
  • Show our Study.com video lesson Gerrymandering: Definition, History, Types & Examples. Ask students to take notes.
  • Pause at 2:26. Ask students to talk about how districts are divided. Clarify understanding.
  • Pose the question: Is gerrymandering 'American'? Allow students to share and defend their answers.
  • Show the remainder of the video.
  • Compare and contrast 'packing' and 'crackling.'
  • Discuss the pros and cons of gerrymandering and the effect it has on elections.
  • Return to the discussion about gerrymandering being American. Does this new information change any students' minds?

Assignment

  • Allow students to do research on gerrymandering in your state. Refer to the state map from the beginning of the lesson. Use guiding questions, such as:
    • Why is our state divided as it is?
    • How long has it been divided in this way?
    • Who made the decision to divide it?
    • How does this division impact our state or local communities?
    • What impact do these districts have on state or national voting?
  • Brainstorm more questions.
  • Divide students into groups and assign a question or topic strand.
  • Students record and share information with class.

Extensions

  • Assign a persuasive writing essay on the topic of gerrymandering. Use information shared in class.
  • Find online games that allow students to practice redistricting.
  • Invite your local representative to talk to your students. Ask questions about gerrymandering.

Related Lessons

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