Teaching lessons educate on voting

Voting! Make informed choices

If Indiana youth follow in their parents’ footsteps, they may not walk into the voting booth.

The Indiana Civic Health Index, funded in part by the HSPA Foundation, showed the state ranked 48th in voter turnout among citizens in 2010.

But educators, schools and the media can prepare and encourage the next generation in civic involvement.

To that end, the HSPA Foundation has made available “Voting! Make informed choices,” a more than 100-page teaching guide that provides ways for teachers to use the newspaper to increase students’ knowledge of the election process. To receive a password to access the information online, please email HSPA’s Shawn Goldsby at sgoldsby@hspa.com.

Foundation Director Karen T. Braeckel approached the Indiana Newspaper in Education Foundation and the Indiana State Reading Association for funding to provide the teaching guide free to Indiana educators.

The material is available on a password-protected area of the HSPA Foundation website – HSPAfoundation.org/newspaper-education. On Sept. 24, Braeckel will introduce the material to teachers attending the ISRA state conference in Indianapolis.

Any newspaper that wants to promote the material to teachers may obtain a password to distribute to schools or educator groups in its circulation area.

Dr. Sandra Cook, state coordinator for Newspaper in Education for the North Carolina Press Foundation and director of the NIE program based at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, developed the guide.

She taught middle and high school and led the NIE program at The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) before moving to her current position in 1995.

In an agreement with the North Carolina Press Foundation, any teacher in Indiana may use the material.

“Newspapers provide the best informational text for teachers during elections,” Braeckel said. “No text book provides the content necessary to study the 2012 contests.”

The guide comes in two formats for teachers – pdf and a writable version for use on interactive white boards.

In the introduction to the guide, Cook explains the reason for studying voting: “Elections carry weight beyond the days and years when voting takes place. Voters choose leaders who must deal with issues and problems that affect citi­zens’ daily lives and shape relationships with other communities and states and with nations around the world.”

Citizens need reliable information to exercise effectively their power to vote.”

Braeckel says, “Although many newspaper no longer have year-round NIE programs due to industry cutbacks, providing this material to teachers around the state costs nothing. A quick email to teachers still subscribing to the paper – print or e-editions – and to the schools, superintendents and others in the circulation area provides a great service to educators as they strive to prepare students to become engaged citizens and tomorrow’s leaders.”