Public Opinion Lesson Plan

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has an Masters of Science in Mathematics and a Masters in Education

Teach your students what public opinion is, how to measure it, and what sways it with this video-based lesson plan. After the video lesson and discussion, students will conduct their own public opinion project and take a quiz.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • define 'public opinion'
  • describe ways to measure public opinion
  • explain what impacts public opinion


1 - 1.5 hours

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.9-10.3

Follow precisely a complex multi-step procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks, attending to special cases or exceptions defined in the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.9-10.4

Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 9-10 texts and topics.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.9-10.9

Compare and contrast findings presented in a text to those from other sources (including their own experiments), noting when the findings support or contradict previous explanations or accounts.


Key Vocabulary

  • Public opinion
  • Public opinion poll
  • Gallup Organization
  • Representative sample
  • Sampling error

Warm-Up and Preparation

  • Ask students to think of their favorite meal from the cafeteria and write their answers on a piece of paper.
  • Collect and tally the votes. Which won? Discuss:
    • Does this poll represent fact or opinion? Why?
    • Do the results of this poll represent the majority in our classroom population? Why or why not?
  • Ask students if they've ever heard of the term 'poll' and discuss prior understandings and knowledge on this topic.
  • Now tell students they will be learning about public opinions and conducting their own public opinion project.

Direct Instruction

  • Start the lesson What is Public Opinion? and pause at 1:47.
  • Define 'public opinion' and ask students to determine if your poll was public opinion. Why or why not?
  • Discuss:
    • Why is it important for politicians to pay attention to public opinion in a democracy?
    • How can knowing and using public opinion help politicians?
    • How can politicians use public opinions?
    • When and how have you seen public opinions being used?
  • Resume the lesson and then pause it again at 6:30.
  • Define key terms and break students into small groups.
  • Give each group a poll sample and have them analyze, answering the following questions:
    • What type of poll is this?
    • Who conducted this poll?
    • What data does this poll tell us?
    • What was the representative sample?
    • Is there a sampling error?
    • What may have influenced this poll?
  • Listen in to student conversations to guide and prompt if necessary.
  • When finished, have each group share their poll and discussions with the class, then play the remainder of the lesson.
  • Allow students to ask any remaining questions, then take the quiz as a group.

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