Key Terms for the 2016 Presidential Election for Grades 5-8

Vocabulary Prep in Grades 5-8 for the 2016 Presidential Election

Key Terms for the 2016 Presidential Election, grades 5-8.

The 2016 Presidential Election Campaign Season is underway, and many teachers in grades 5-8 should be prepared to take advantage of this opportunity to incorporate civics into their curriculum. The responsibility for teachers to prepare students for their role as citizens is best stated by Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor:

“Knowledge about our system of government, our rights and responsibilities as citizens, is not passed down through the gene pool. Each generation must be taught and we have work to do!”

To better understand the upcoming election, middle school students in grades 5-8 should become familiar with the vocabulary of the electoral process. Teachers should be aware that some of election vocabulary is also cross-disciplinary. For example, "personal appearance" can refer to a person's wardrobe and demeanor, but in the context of an election, it means "an event that a candidate attends in person." 

Teachers can use the background knowledge students have in order to teach some of this content specific vocabulary.  In the handout Teaching About Elections During a Presidential Election Year by Mary E. Haas, Barbara Hatcher, and Cynthia Szymanski Sunal, there is an example, “The President stands on a political platform.” The authors suggest that students first state what they think the term means. The teacher can then discuss with the students the nature of a platform that people actually stand on (ex: "it must be strong and connected together").

This discussion can help students better understand the context of the word "platform" in an election:

platform: a set of statements that describe a political party’s views about the issues facing the country. 

QUIZLET Software to Help Teach Vocabulary

One way to help students become familiar with content specific election year vocabulary is to use the digital platform Quizlet.

This free software gives teachers and students a variety of modes: specialized learning mode, flashcards, randomly generated tests, and collaboration tools to study words. 

There is both an online version of Quizlet and a mobile app. Teachers can create, copy, or modify lists of vocabulary words. Teachers should also determine which of the following words are most critical for students to understand. The entire list of 50 words is available on this link to QUIZLET for teachers and students.

50 Vocabulary Terms Grades 5-8 for the 2016 Election Season:

1. absentee ballota mailable paper ballot that is used by voters who will not be able to vote on Election Day (like military personnel stationed overseas). The absentee ballots are mailed before election day and counted on election day.

2.abstainto refuse to exercise the right to vote.

3.acceptance speechspeech delivered by a candidate when accepting a political party's nomination for the national presidential election.

4.amendmenta change to the U.S. Constitution or to the constitution of a state. Voters must approve any changes to a constitution.

5.balloteither in paper form or electronic, the way voters to show their vote preferences , or a list of candidates.

(ballot box: the box used to hold ballots to be counted).

6.campaignthe process of gathering public support for a candidate.

7.campaign adadvertising in support of (or against) a candidate.

8.candidateperson running for elected office.

9.castto vote for a candidate or issue

10.Chief ExecutivePresidential role involving overseeing the Executive Branch of the government

11.citizen: a person who is a legal member of a nation, country, or other organized, self-governing political community, such as any of the fifty U.S. states.

12.Commander-In-ChiefPresident's role as being the leader of the military.

13.Congressional districtan area within a state from which a member of the House of Representatives is elected. There are 435 Congressional districts.

14.conservativehave a belief or political leaning that favors individuals and businesses—not the government— to find solutions for society's problems.

15.contributor/donora person or organization that donates money to a candidate's campaign for office.

16.conventiona meeting where a political party chooses its presidential candidate. (2016 Conventions)

17.delegatesthe people chosen to represent each state at a political party's convention.

18.democracya form of government in which people hold the power, either by voting for measures directly or by voting for representatives who vote for them.

19.Election Daythe Tuesday after the first Monday in November; the 2016 Election will be held November 8th.

20.Electoral Collegeeach state has a group of people called electors who cast the actual votes for president. This group of 538 people are chosen by the voters to officially elect the President of the United States. When people vote for a presidential candidate, they are really voting to decide for which candidate the electors in their state will vote. electors:people elected by the voters in a presidential election as members of the electoral college

21.electorateall persons having the right to vote.

22.endorsementthe support or approval for a candidate by a prominent individual.

23.exit pollan informal poll taken as people leave the voting booth. Exit polls are used to predict the winners before the polls close.

24.Federal systema form of government in which power is divided among a central government and state and local governments.

25.front runnera front-runner is the political candidate who looks as though he/she is winning

26.Inauguration Daythe day a new president and vice president are sworn into office (January 20).

27.independent voter: a person who chooses to register to vote with no party affiliation. The decision to register as an independent voter does not register a voter with any third party although these third parties are often referred to as independent parties.

28.issuestopics on which citizens feel strongly; common examples are immigration, access to health care, finding energy sources, and how to provide quality education.

29.leadership qualitiespersonality traits that inspire confidence -- include honesty, good communication skills, trustworthiness, commitment, intelligence

30.liberalpolitical leaning that favors the government's role in solving society's problems and a belief that government should take action for creating solutions.

31.Libertariana person who belongs to the Libertarian political party.

32.medianews organizations that deliver information through television, radio, newspaper, or the Internet.

33.national convention: a National Party meeting where candidates are selected and the platform is created.

34.natural-born citizencitizenship requirements for running for President.

35.nomineethe candidate a political party chooses, or nominates, to run in the national election.

36.personal appearancean event that a candidate attends in person.

37.platform: a political party's formal statement of basic principles, stands on major issues, and objectives.

38.political partiesorganized groups of people who share similar beliefs about how the government should be run and how the issues facing our country should be solved.

39.political symbolsThe Republican Party is symbolized as an elephant. The Democratic Party is symbolized as a donkey.

40.pollsample of opinions taken from a random group of people; used to show where citizens stand on issues and/or candidates.

41.popular votea tally of all the votes citizens have cast in the presidential election.

42.presidential ticketthe joint listing of the presidential and vice presidential candidates on the same ballot as required by the Twelfth Amendment.

43.recountcounting the votes again if there is some disagreement about the election process.

44.Representativea member of the House of Representatives, also called a congressman or congresswoman.

45.running matea candidate who is running for office with another candidate on the same ticket. (Example: president and vice president).

46.taxesmoney paid by citizens to fund the government and public services.

47.third partyany political party other than the two major parties (Republican and Democratic).

48.Vice Presidentoffice that also serves as the President of the Senate.

49.voting age: The 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says that people have the right to vote when they turn 18.

50.Voting Rights Act: An act passed in 1965 that protected the right to vote for all U.S. citizens. It forced the states to obey the U.S. Constitution. It made it clear that the right to vote could not be denied because of a person's color or race.