Teachers Network
Translate Translate English to Chinese Translate English to French
  Translate English to German Translate English to Italian Translate English to Japan
  Translate English to Korean Russian Translate English to Spanish
Lesson Plan Search
Our Lesson Plans
TeachNet Curriculum Units
Classroom Specials
Popular Teacher Designed Activities
TeachNet NYC Directory of Lesson Plans TeachNet NYC Dirctory of Lesson Plans

Teachers Network Leadership Institute
How-To Articles
Videos About Teaching
Effective Teachers Website
Lesson Plans
TeachNet Curriculum Units
Classroom Specials
Teacher Research
For NYC Teachers
For New Teachers

TeachNet Grant:
Lesson Plans
TeachNet Grant Winners
TeachNet Grant Winners
Adaptor Grant Winners
TeachNet Grant Winners
Adaptor Grant Winners
TeachNet Grant Winners
Adaptor Grant Winners
Other Grant Winners
Math and Science Learning
Impact II
Grant Resources
Grant How-To's
Free Resources for Teachers
Our Mission
   Press Releases
   Silver Reel
   2002 Educational Publishers Award


Gotham Gazette Grant      << Back to all Grant Winners

Politics In The City

Subject: Language Arts (or Social Studies)

Grade Level: 8th Grade (can be used in HS)

Materials: Laptops/computers with Internet access, index cards, three-ring binders for each group, a projector with overhead, poster boards or flip charts, egg timer, and PC microphone (optional)

About: After reading the novel Animal Farm by George Orwell, students further their understanding of politics and government using the Gotham Gazette website (www.gothamgazette.com) by participating in a classroom campaign. They become aware of the current events and issues NYC, and determine the best policies to address them. Students are broken into small "campaign teams". The roles are candidate, speech writer, press secretary, and research coordinator. Their job is to identify two issues that they deem most important in our city and society. These issues may be based on legislation, education, environment, social, etc. During the course of their research, campaign teams identify these issues using the Gotham Gazette, research them on a variety of news sources provided on the Gazette site, write public speeches and documents, and debate each these issues with the other campaign teams. At the end of the unit, each team's 'candidate' will address the class on both issues and take questions from the other groups.

Students present their views and opinions on the issues their group has chosen in the form of campaign speeches, followed by a Q&A session among the groups. The culminating project is broken into two portions. Each group member will receive the same grade. The first grade is based on the final speech delivered by each group's candidates. It will be a persuasive campaign speech that asks "If I were your choice, what action or legislation on current social or civic issues in New York City would I create or amend?" Candidates will be called to task on the positions they hold, the opinions they give, and the questions they pose to other candidates. This ends in a class vote for "Mayor of Gotham" The second portion of the team grade is a culminating binder that include research work, draft process and ndex cards for speeches, notes taken during speeches, etc.

Students gain understanding of public speaking, speech writing, and research skills, researching the major issues facing our city. They formulate opinions and viewpoints on these issues by utilizing a variety of different news sources that center on the use of the Gotham Gazette website. Many students today remain indifferent or uninformed about issues we face. The Gotham Gazette offers valuable resources and articles on hot topics and current issues. Using this site allows them to research these issues, formulate opinions, and run a political campaign ending in a class vote. During this unit, students participate in small group discussions and debates, both in the classroom and online, using a class blog site and technologies.

Teachers can have group roles already assigned to smooth the proccess. In our class, we used the literary groups that were assigned previously when we studied literature. Teachers may also give topics (issues/policies) to choose from, eliminating search time.


To have students learn the characteristics of a political speech.
Students use lists and outlines to prepare notes for debates.
Students will work cooperatively in small groups to formulate arguments and speeches on social issues.
Students will think critically about different social and political issues that they have researched on Gotham Gazette.
Students will take notes from audio and video speeches and read-alouds from other groups.
Students will conduct interviews of teachers, parents, etc. to gain viewpoints on issues.
Students will prepare rebuttal arguments.
Groups will publish their issue stances on a blog, and respond to questions and comments posted by staff and other groups.
Students will deliver and critique speeches and presentations.
To reinforce writing, research skills, and reading comprehension strategies.

The website offers students the chance to read, research, and respond to the civic and political issues that face New York City.
This link allows teachers and students to view pictures and text and listen to the audio of FDR's address to the nation following the attack on Pearl Harbor.
This link allows teachers and students to view pictures and text and listen to the audio of MLK's famous "I Have a Dream" speech.
This link allows teachers and students to watch the video of JFK's inaugural speech. You can also view pictures and text and just listen to the audio.
This Scholastic, Inc. site is an "A-Z" of political speech writing. Scholastic offers step-by-step instructions from professional speech writers, and interactive options allow the process of preparing, writing, and giving a speech to be interesting and fun. This site can also be used by teachers to generate lessons and handouts.
Audacity allows teachers and students to download free software that allows the candidates in each group to record their speeches and post them on the blog site. This is a Windows program. Apple computers come with Garagebnd already installed.
Blogger.com is a good site to use if your teaching district does not offer a teacher blog site. All you need is an e-mail address to get started, and this site allows you to upload images and hyperlinks if you wish to post student work or recordings on the blog.
The Speech Tips site offers students a lot of useful information in writing and delivering speeches. Also, teachers can generate handouts for small groups and candidates.

Students produce a report of information and a response to literature.
Students participate in one-to-one conferences with the teacher and in group meetings, and prepare and deliver an individual presentation.
Students demonstrate an understanding of the rules of the English language in written and oral work, and analyze and revise work to improve its clarity and effectiveness.
Standard 5 - Civics, Citizenship, and Government
Social Studies

Day 1: Introduction & Reinforcement
Students will identify and discuss the characteristics of a strong political speech.
Students will discuss the similarities of three political speeches given by different leaders, at different times, addressing different issues.
Students will join small groups and be assigned group roles.
Students will be informed of curriculum purpose, objectives, and assessments.
Students will be introduced to Gotham Gazette.
Laptop with Internet access
Projector with overhead
3 copies per student of organizer titled "Speech Worksheet"
Students answer the "Do Now" question: What characteristics make a good political leader? This is introduced to analogies of qualities of a good entertainer or athlete and moved into why certain animals were strong leaders in the novel Animal Farm.
Discuss responses. Have a student serve as "reporter" to write responses on the board. Student response will vary, but focus on abilities/characteristics that can center around things like "good speaker", "opinionated", "good ideas", etc.
Students will watch/listen to 2-3 selected political speeches (dependent on time). Our class listens to Martin Luther King's "I have a Dream", John F. Kennedy's Inaugural address, and FDR's Pearl Harbor address to the nation.
Students will use the handout "speech worksheet" to take notes during the speeches.
Review and collect handouts.
Introduce the unit to the class, explaining main points, group assignments, assessments, and final project.
Create small groups (no more then 5) and assign roles: candidate, press secretary, speech writer(s), and researcher(s). Distribute "Role Card" handout that explains the tasks, expectations, and evaluations of each group member.
Assign each group a political party: Democrat, Republican, Reform, Green, Libertarian, and Constitution & Independent Parties. Students are reminded that these are just the names of their groups. They do not have to take a "Democratic" stance.
Students will be introduced to the Gotham Gazette website via teacher laptop/projector. They takes notes on important sections, i.e, "Topics", "Issues", "News Sites", etc.
Assign Homework: Teacher should leave about five minutes for groups to discuss homework assignment with each other.
Teams will be responsible for bringing in artwork for their parties logo. Groups have the option of assigning someone to be responsible, or all may contribute. Students review www.gothamgazette.com at home.
Review class worksheets to ensure understanding of characteristics of strong speeches.

Day 2: Building The Platform
Students will research current civic, social, and political issues using the Gotham Gazette website.
Groups will choose two issues that will be the foundation of their campaign.
Students will complete research worksheets on the issues they have chosen.
Selected students will deliver a short speech to the class.
Teacher laptop and projector. At least one computer with Internet access per group.
Index cards and poster paper
Research worksheets
Egg timer
Teacher will display the Gotham Gazette website on the overhead projector. Review the "Acceptable Policies for Internet Use" contract that students signed.
During small group instruction, review the sections of the Gotham Gazette site that allow students to read about their issues, review the current topics, and research these issues on various news sources.
Review the agenda, objectives, and exit assessment with class. Give groups time allotted for each portion of class.
Distribute the research worksheet an allow students to begin working within their group. Walk around room to ensure groups are on task.
As groups finish worksheets, speech writers and candidates should be working on an "intent to run" speech. They should follow the guidelines on the "Speech Breakdown" worksheet. Candidates will take notes on index cards.
Candidates deliver their speeches. Speech time can not exceed 2 minutes. Candidates deliver their "intent to run" speech at the teacher station. This allows for the optional recording of speeches portion of the unit. These speeches can be posted on the blog site later. There will be no Q & A session to follow the first speech.
Member of all groups not delivering speeches take notes to be used during Q & A sessions. Remind students that these notes are to be included in final binder and are a major portion of their grade.
After candidates deliver their speeches, groups may post their political party logos and slogans by their work area.
Review objectives again and reinforce seriousness of the issues with the class. Remind students that only "accountable talk" will be accepted during speeches.
Each member of the group is to interview at least two adults on the issues they have chosen. They should use the "Man on the Street" handout for guided questions.
Teacher will review the research worksheets to ensure that each group has viable issues to work with, and that they are on track for quality research. Also, the teacher will take notes during the speeches to assist candidates in developing stronger public speaking skills. The instructor will meet with the candidates as a small group later to review strategies and tips for delivering speeches.

Day 3: Q & A Session
Students will create rebuttal responses to questions and comments.
Students will publish their "candidate blog".
Students will continue research on the issues and topics they have chosen.
Students will address the class on the progress their group has made on legislation.
Small groups will participate in a Q & A session among themselves.
Computer with Internet access for each group
Poster boards or large flip cards
Research Worksheet handout
Groups will answer the "Do Now": Based on the interviews performed for homework, what are the common feelings on the issues amongst the people you spoke with? What would they like to see done? What opinions stood out?"
Teacher will model appropriate responses by reviewing examples of blogs on Gotham Gazette.
Each team will have fifteen minutes to continue to organize their research and work with Gotham Gazette. They will continue to fill in the research handouts.
With five minutes left, teacher will announce that speech writers and press secretaries should be working on the press secretary address that will be delivered.
Teacher will meet in a small group with the individual candidates. Introduce the candidates to the speech delivery website and distribute small packet on speech delivery tips and strategies.
At the close of the fifteen minutes, press secretaries begin to address the class on what their group has found. The press secretary should point out the differences among the candidates. They will deliver their address from the teacher station, and can use the video to point out the work they found on the Gotham Gazette website.
While these two-minute addresses are being given, researchers and speech writers can publish their group viewpoint, beliefs, and candidate speech recording onto our class blog site.
After each press secretary has delivered their address, the class will engage in a Q&A session. Remind class that notes are to be taken, and all notes and questions will be included in their group binder.
As Q&A session closes, teacher should bring the attention of the class to the blog site. We can see the work that each group has posted, including sound clips. Begin to introduce homework.
Over the weekend, students engage in an online debate via the blog site. All members can contribute. Questions should be raised, and comments should be made. Remind students that all opinions must be based on facts. Writers and candidates begin to prepare final speeches. Students who can not access computers perform two more "man on the street" interviews.
Review group binders to see the research that each group is performing. Teacher will comment on the work and issue a partial grade. The teacher should lead groups to forming questions to other groups, and point them to area they may find useful information for research, etc. Monitor comments over blog site.

Day 4: Class Debate
Students will form rebuttal arguments to various viewpoints and opinions.
Students will participate in a verbal debate and open forum centering around the standpoints each group has taken on the issues they chose.
Students will utilize the Internet to report back to questions and comments posted on blog site to reinforce arguments, raise questions, and form rebuttal arguments.
Students will take notes during speeches and debate to gather information.
Students will highlight key points made by their political party during speech for classroom resource.
Computer with Internet access for each group
Chart paper or white boards and markers
Egg timer
Teacher laptop with microphone
Students will enter their small groups and be given time to organize their presentations.
During round-robin debates, press secretaries will begin to write the final speech to be presented tomorrow.
Candidates will deliver their current message in one-minute speeches taht should include their recent findings, ideas, and plans to deal with the issues.
During these speeches, other groups will take notes and formulate rebuttals and questions they will ask.
After candidate updates, round-robin debates begin. Teacher will moderate and keep time. Each group will ask one question to a group of their choice. That group responds to the question and makes one counter-argument to any group. This counter-argument will be based on any point made by that group during speeches, press release, or blog posting.
Candidates are the only students who get to answer questions or comment on rebuttals, but time is allowed for group to discuss their responses.
Moderator will ask one policy question per group to which any member can answer.
Homework is divided among group members. Candidates will practice speeches and have key points on index cards. Researchers prepare statements as to why their candidate should be elected - "On The Street". These will be read tomorrow. Press secretaries prepare a statement that explains why their party ran the strongest campaign.
Summary: Students respond to the question/answer session. We break out of groups to have a whole group discussion. Students recall key points and comment on other group's ideas. Teacher will lead class discussion asking questions about the policies of each group. Students will be asked to recall each group's main ideas and standpoints.

Day 5: Classroom Caucus
Students will deliver speeches to the class.
Students will participate in a voting process.
Students will organize culmination of work into group binder.
Students will write reflection pieces on the unit curriculum on blog site or on paper to be submitted.
Three-ring binders and hole punchers
Egg timer, digital camera
Teacher laptop with Internet access
Computer microphone (optional)
Students will immediately break into small groups.
Groups will review final speeches and make last-minute changes.
Researchers will speak as "On The Street" citizens report from last night's homework.
Press secretaries will deliver their final statement on their group work and campaign effort.
Candidates will deliver their final speeches at the teacher podium. These can be recorded to be published on class website.
At the conclusion of speeches, the teacher will review what was said at today's debate and highlight the memorable moments from each group. This can include exceptional posts to blog, key points made in class, or notes that were in the binder.
Groups will reorganize and discuss the speeches of the other candidates. They will complete the worksheet titled "My Vote".
Class will participate in vote for "Mayor of Gotham". (Group members can not vote for their own candidate.)
Teacher will tally votes.
Announce the "Gotham Mayor".
Students write a guided reflection piece. These can be typed, written, or posted to blog. The recently elected "Gotham Mayor" will write a short inaugural address to be read at start of next class.
Student reflection papers to check comprehension and learning. Review group binders.

Rosario Miano


I.S.72 - The Rocco Laurie School
33 Ferndale Ave
Staten Island, NY 10314

I have been a NYC public school teacher for over six years. My previous five years were at Lafayette HS in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn and I now teach at I.S. 72, the Rocco Laurie School, in Staten Island, NY. I hold a B.A. degree in English from SUNY at Albany and a M.S. in Literacy from Touro College. I am New York State Certified in English/ELA 7-12, Conflict Resolution & Negotiation, and QTEL (Quality Teaching of English Learners) from the NYCDOE Office of ELL. I facilitate an after-school newspaper program in elementary schools and coach football at Susan Wagner HS. Before teaching, I worked in Information Technology and eventually became a CTO with experience working with banks, law firms, and media companies. As a teacher, I feel my most important job is to keep students engaged and interested. I rely on practical issues, technology, sense-of-humor, and real-life knowledge. Making the classroom a place where students connect to the real world and the global community is vital to their educational enrichment.

Important documents for this lesson plan.

Social Issues.doc
Speech Worksheet.doc
Group Role Cards.doc
Speech Guidlines.doc
Student Speech Packet.doc


Come across an outdated link?
Please visit The Wayback Machine to find what you are looking for.


Journey Back to the Great Before