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CNN Student News Learning Activity: Political Issues

  • Story Highlights
  • Controversial issues have cropped up in presidential campaigns throughout history
  • These issues are among those on the minds of voters in 2008
  • Students will learn about current political issues and formulate opinions about them
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(CNN Student News) -- Students will learn about current political issues and formulate opinions about them.

Generate a class discussion about the upcoming presidential election and the factors that influence how voters select a candidate. Point out that many informed voters examine the issues that are important to them and evaluate the candidates' positions on these issues in order to make their choices. Lead a class brainstorming session to generate a list of issues that students think are on the minds of voters as this year's election approaches. This list will likely include:

• Abortion
• The economy
• Education
• Energy
• The environment
• Free trade
• Gas prices
• Gun control
• Healthcare
• Homeland security
• Housing
• Immigration
• Iran
• Iraq
• Same-sex marriage
• Social Security
• Stem cell research
• Taxes

Next, have each student choose three issues from the list that he or she believes are the most important. Direct students to use their textbooks and online resources, including the CNN Student News One-Sheet: Political Issues, to learn more about their issues. Use the following questions to guide students' research:

• How would you define the issue?
• What are the key arguments on each side of this issue?
• What are some of the organizations that champion each side of the issue
• Where do liberals, conservatives and other political groups generally stand on the issue?
• What are the presidential candidates' positions on the issue?
• What is your opinion regarding this issue?

Direct students to share their findings. Then ask: How do organizations, political parties and others influence the various positions on these issues? Do the candidates' stances on the issues affect your choice for president? If so, why? If not, why not? Then, challenge each student to create a 2-3 minute video editorial in which he or she indicates his or her choice for president based on that candidate's position on the issues.

Correlated Standards

9-12 Content Standards
II. What Are The Foundations Of The American Political System?
5. The role of organized groups in political life
7. American national identity and political culture
8. Character of American political conflict
11. Fundamental values and principles
12. Conflicts among values and principles in American political and social life

III. How Does The Government Established By The Constitution Embody The Purposes, Values, And Principles Of American Democracy?
14. Political parties, campaigns, and elections

V. What Are The Roles Of The Citizen In American Democracy?
14. The relationship between politics and the attainment of individual and public goals
15. The difference between political and social participation
16. Forms of political participation
18. Knowledge and participation

The National Standards for Civics and Government ( are published by the Center for Civic Education (

issue, politics, advocacy, debate, Democratic Party, Republican Party, liberalism, conservativism, libertarianism, socialism

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