New Yorkers' grand, central guide to elections, politics & government

Lesson Ideas

This page includes a few general ideas for ways in which students might engage in learning about the New York City elections of 2013 as well as local politics and government in general. We hope that teachers and students will take some time to investigate the races, candidates, and issues of #NYC2013, especially those most relevant to their neighborhoods, and to learn about New York City government and politics, including what the different government positions are and the powers of each office. is based on the goal of increasing civic education and participation. We believe that most New Yorkers will take more of an interest in the political process and participate (by learning, discussing, acting, voting), if they know that there is somewhere for them to find clear, accessible, and helpful information. We also believe that civic education should start in our schools and that it should be a more significant piece of our students’ school experiences. To that end, we will be providing specific resources designed for teachers and students to utilize in and out-side of their classrooms.


One place to start is our page that explains the different roles and powers of the various city offices. Teachers and students may utilize this information to enact a simulation related to an issue of your choice. We have issue pages to help sort through some of the most pressing issues facing New York City and its residents. Students might take on different roles within the city government, and perhaps some outside of the government, and, from a certain perspective, investigate a specific issue that they believe is important. This might then lead to a discussion at which the stakeholders are all present and a potential piece of new legislation is dealt with.


We also have a fairly extensive Political Dictionary that is useful for building relevant vocabulary.


In another lesson, students might find the candidates running for office in their borough or city council district and investigate them. Students might take on the roles of specific candidates and engage in debates. Teachers and students around the country do this when it comes to presidential elections, there is no reason that New York City teachers and students could not do this when it comes to the races for Mayor, Public Advocate, Comptroller, Borough President, and/or City Council. A class could conceivably hold a series of debates for Mayor, Public Advocate, Comptroller, and the Borough President of their school’s borough and City Council Member of their school’s district.


Another great way to engage students with the city elections is by having them investigate the candidates and race coverage on Twitter. A great deal can be learned about candidates by reading their tweets and tweets that mention them. Students must keep in mind, of course, that tweets from candidates’ twitter feeds are often managed by someone on their campaign staff and that tweets in which candidates are mentioned may often be quite biased.


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