K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education


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Learning outcomes

Students will be able to:

  • make inferences from a text.
  • conduct Internet research to confirm their inferences.
  • write an essay about their findings and their opinion on the topic, using evidence to support their arguments.

Teacher planning

Time required

One class period for Mini Page research activity, longer for essay writing depending on student needs

Materials needed

  • Copies of page two of the 2004 Mini Page about the presidential election — one per student
  • Copies of the 2000 Presidential Election Graphic Organizer — one per student (if they will not be accessing them on individual computers)
  • Notebook paper
  • Pencils/pens

Technology resources

  • Computer lab or individual student computers
  • Computer with internet connected to a multimedia projector


2000 presidential election graphic organizer
Students complete this graphic organizer and use the information in it to make inferences about events surrounding the 2000 presidential election.
Open as PDF (89 KB, 2 pages)


Prior knowledge

  • While this lesson is appropriate for students with little to no research practice, they should have some prior knowledge of how to use internet search engines and databases appropriately (e.g., selecting reputable sources and using search terms). Because many people have strong opinions about the 2000 presidential election, students may find personal blogs and other inappropriate resources while researching, and they will need some direct guidelines on using appropriate sources. This would be a great opportunity to collaborate with a school librarian who could help guide students through this process. If a school librarian is unavailable, an excellent online resource with research tutorials is available through Clark College. You can go through these as a class using a projector, or the students can complete them individually on their own computers a day before completing this lesson. Students should also have experience writing short research papers and know how to cite sources appropriately.
  • Students should have a basic understanding of American elections, voting rights, and political parties. This 1992 Mini Page can be used for background reading, if necessary. LEARN NC’s 2012 election guide may also be useful for building background.


  1. Make sure all students have a copy of the Mini Page or computers with Internet access and a copy of the 2000 Presidential Election Graphic Organizer. If using computers, it would be easier to have them complete the graphic organizer on the computer so that they can include links to their sources.
  2. Project page two of the Mini Page for all students to see.
  3. Tell students that they will be reading about the 2000 presidential election, which was very controversial. They will be using the information found on the Mini Page, a publication aimed towards younger children, to make inferences about what happened.
  4. Draw students’ attention first to the photographs of President Bush and Al Gore. Ask students to volunteer any information they know already about these men. This can help gauge how much background information the students will need to complete the lesson.
  5. As a class, read the “How This Election Will be different” section on page two (skipping the left column about presidential debates).
  6. Project the graphic organizer on the board, and direct students to look at their graphic organizer, which includes the three voting regulation changes on the left side. For most classes, the teacher will probably want to model making inferences from the first point. The teacher may say, “Because the text states that there are new voting machines, and that many old ones have been replaced, I infer that there was a problem with old machines. Maybe they did not work properly, and people either could not vote or the votes were counted incorrectly. Also, because the text says that each state decides which voting machines they use, I infer that probably not all states had a problem with voting machines. In the next column of the graphic organizer, I would write ‘faulty or broken machines, possible miscount, only affected some states.’”
  7. Next, ask students what they would use as search terms for their research to find that information. They should come up with things like “voting machines 2000,” “2000 vote machine problem,” “faulty voting machine,” etc. (This is a sample article on this topic.)
  8. Read an article from the search results together to fill in the next column. If using the sample article, you could ask students to include:
    1. 1.5 million to 2 million presidential votes were lost in the 2000 election because of faulty equipment and confusing ballots.
    2. Places with voting problems: Florida, Illinois, South Carolina, Idaho, Wyoming, Georgia
    3. Ask students to also paste a link to the article in this column.
    4. Alternatively, for eighth or ninth grade students, you could direct them to this Counting the Votes Mini Page for some of the extra information.
  9. Students should see that their inferences were correct and write “yes” in the last column of their graphic organizer.
  10. Instruct students to go through the same process with the other two points from the Mini Page. Students can complete this in pairs or individually, depending on teacher preference.
  11. Direct students’ attention to the additional research questions on the back of their graphic organizer. Instruct students that when they finish with the front, they may begin answering these questions. Remind students that they should look for reliable sources only and to ask the teacher to check their sources if they have any doubt.
  12. You may want to review acceptable use policy and guidelines (e.g., no social networking or emailing while completing the assignment).
  13. Walk around the room to monitor the students and answer questions while they are working.
  14. Once students have finished their research, facilitate a class discussion on their findings. As part of this, students could take turns writing or typing information they found onto the projected graphic organizer. What evidence do students have to support their inferences? Were students surprised by any of the information?
  15. After the discussion, explain that the students will use this information to write an essay about the 2000 election. Depending on the level of your students, you could leave the essay topic open, or you could ask students to respond to the prompt: “Was the election fair? Why or why not?” Be sure to remind them to support their opinion with specific details from their research. The essay should also include direct quotes from sources to support students’ arguments, and sources should be cited appropriately.


  • Monitor students while they are conducting research and check their graphic organizers to make sure they are making appropriate inferences and finding facts to support them.
  • During discussion, evaluate students’ ability to support their points with evidence.
  • Confirm that students provide textual evidence to support their arguments in their essays.


  • If students have not conducted Internet research before, or the class is pressed for time, teachers could provide links to outside articles for the students to use for research.
  • Instead of writing an essay, students could create a presentation explaining their opinion about the 2000 election and supporting it with evidence.

Supplemental information

A Writing Process
This edition presents a writing process through discussion, examples, and suggested resources to help you guide your students through any writing assignment.
Election 2012: Voting Laws Roundup
This page from the New York University School of Law provides a summary of 2012 voting regulations.
This site from Clark College provides a listing of online research tutorials that may help your students learn more about information and research.


This lesson could be extended by asking students to research current election and voting laws and regulations and how they can effect an election. Students could write an essay about this, or create an informational pamphlet/ presentation.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • English Language Arts (2010)
      • History/Social Studies

        • Grades 6-8
          • 6-8.LH.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.
      • Reading: Informational Text

        • Grade 11-12
          • 11-12.RIT.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.
        • Grade 8
          • 8.RIT.1 Cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
        • Grade 9-10
          • 9-10.RIT.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
      • Writing

        • Grade 11-12
          • 11-12.W.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research. 11-12.W.9.1 Apply grades 11–12 Reading standards to literature (e.g., “Demonstrate knowledge of eighteenth-, nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century...
        • Grade 8
          • 8.W.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research. 8.W.9.1 Apply grade 8 Reading standards to literature (e.g., “Analyze how a modern work of fiction draws on themes, patterns of events, or character types...
        • Grade 9-10
          • 9-10.W.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research. 9-10.W.9.1 Apply grades 9–10 Reading standards to literature (e.g., “Analyze how an author draws on and transforms source material in a specific...

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Social Studies (2010)
      • Turning Points in American History

        • 12.H.3 Apply historical inquiry and methods to understand turning points in American history. 12.H.3.1 Analyze primary sources using the social, cultural, political and economic context in which each source was produced. 12.H.3.2 Evaluate primary and secondary...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

English Language Arts (2004)

Grade 8

  • Goal 2: The learner will use and evaluate information from a variety of sources.
    • Objective 2.01: Analyze and evaluate informational materials that are read, heard, and/or viewed by:
      • monitoring comprehension for understanding of what is read, heard and/or viewed.
      • recognizing the characteristics of informational materials.
      • summarizing information.
      • determining the importance of information.
      • making connections to related topics/information.
      • drawing inferences.
      • generating questions.
      • extending ideas.