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Published by the Kansas Bar Association
Editor: Crystal Marietta, Attorney at Law, Pittsburg
Coordinators: Ron Keefover, Kansas Supreme Court and Janessa Akin, Kansas Bar Association
Greetings from the Kansas Supreme Court and the Kansas Bar Association. This is the first edition of Law Wise for the 2004-2005 school year. The theme of the September edition of Law Wise is "The Electoral College and the Election Process: Integrating Social Studies and Mathematics."
In this issue:
Calendar of Events
- September 15. . . . . . Early registration due for Kansas Council for the Social Studies Fall 2004 Conference
- September 26-27. . . Kansas Council for the Social Studies Fall 2004 Conference - Topeka
- October 11 . . . . . . . . Kansas Supreme Court in Session
- October 19-21 . . . . . Kansas Court of Appeals in Session - Kansas Judicial Center - Topeka
- October 19-21 . . . . . Kansas Court of Appeals in Session - Old Sedgwick County Courthouse - Wichita
- December 3. . . . . . . IOLTA Grant Applications Due
Integrating Social Studies and Mathematics
By Dr. Tim Fry, Washburn University
Over the last few years, I have had several opportunities to address both math teachers and social studies teachers on ways to integrate these two disciplines. I continually see more connections and there seems to be no limit to the ways social studies and math can be integrated to promote understanding. This past April (2004), I gave a presentation at the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) annual conference in Philadelphia. Being home to the Constitutional Convention of 1787, I thought I would focus on all the mathematics and numbers used in the Constitution.
With the phrase --"in order to form a more perfect union," the Preamble of the Constitution of the United States admits that there were some problems with the nation's first plan for government known as the Articles of Confederation. Question: How did the founding fathers solve many of these problems? Answer: With mathematical solutions!
At the NCTM conference, the participants were provided with a brief summary of the Constitution (like the ones found in many school social studies texts) and highlighted some of the numbers--seven articles, numerous sections within each article, 27 Amendments, age restrictions, residency time requirements, length of terms, lots of fractions in passing legislation and amendments: majority to pass, two-thirds vote to override veto, three-fourths of the states to change-amend the Constitution, etc. A great crossword puzzle of Constitutional Math could be developed using these highlighted numbers.
A mathematical compromise (known as the Great Compromise) was reached at the 1787 Constitutional convention between small and large states. Large states wanted a legislature based on population while the small states demanded equal representation for each state. The compromise resulted in a bicameral (two house) legislature. Representation in the house is based on population (guaranteed at least one) and the representation in the senate is equal for each state--two. A great resource with activities across the curriculum over the Constitution can be found in: We the People….The Citizen and the Constitution by M.E. Yoder, M. E. Bell, Eric Document # 471103, published by Center for Civic Education, US Dept. of Education. In this We the People Document, there is a great math activity over the Great Compromise that uses a graph similar to the one below.
Source: We the People...The Citizen and the Constitution by M.E. Yoder, M. E. Bell,
Eric Document # 471103, published by Center for Civic Education, US Dept. of Education.
Using the above graph, students answer questions like: Which state had the fewest people? The most people? If each state had one representative for every 50,000 people, how many representatives would each state have? What is the total number of representatives needed for all of the United States at ratio of 50,000 to 1? Which states do you think would favor giving all states the same number of representatives and why? Which states do you think favored giving the larger states more representatives based on the size of their populations? What would be a fair solution to this problem? Hopefully students will arrive at the same or similar solution found in the "Great Compromise."
A smaller compromise that was part of the Great Compromise is known as the "3/5ths compromise." For representation, the slave-owning states wanted to count their slaves for representation but not allow them to vote or to rule themselves. The compromise allowed 3 of every 5 slaves to be counted in determining the population for representation purposes.
To determine the population and resulting representation, the Constitution calls for a census every 10 years. "Making Sense of the Census" teaching materials are free from the US government and are available online at www.census.gov.
The small state/large state compromise also dealt with election of a president. Small states thought a direct election of the president by popular vote would give larger states too much control over who was elected. The number of electors in the electoral college was also a compromise that gave each state a number of electoral votes determined by the sum of each states' representation in Congress. Since all states were given equal representation in the U.S. Senate, small states were guaranteed more say in a presidential election. Wyoming and those other small states gave Bush more electoral votes even though nation-wide he lost the popular vote by more than a half a million votes.
Another twist to the electoral system is that the candidate that wins the state's popular vote almost always receives all the state's electoral votes (Maine is the exception). A narrow victory (or even disputed popular vote victory) in a state with a large number of electoral votes (like Florida) can create a mathematical situation in which a candidate can win the total popular vote across the nation and still not win the electoral college vote.
Bush: 50,456,169 popular votes, 271 electoral votes
Gore: 50,996,116 popular votes, 267 electoral votes
Nader: 2,883,075 popular votes, 0 electoral votes
Four times in our nation's history, the winner of the popular vote was not elected president. Some have blamed the third party candidate Ralph Nader for taking votes away from Gore-especially in Florida.
Students can be shown a mock situation using just a few states to show how a candidate could win the popular vote and not be elected President. Students could also compare popular votes and electoral votes over the last several elections. Two excellent web sites for data on popular vote and electoral votes are http://www.uselectionatlas.org; and
After examining data students could be expected to answer questions such as: Note elections in which the Republicans won the electoral vote by a large margin. Note an election close in the popular vote but a landslide in the electoral vote. What election was close in both popular and electoral vote? Which election did the Democratic candidate do the poorest in electoral votes?
Mock simulations of the electoral college can also help students become more familiar with the math involved in elections. See Electoral College Game Lesson Plan included in this LAW WISE issue. In addition, an online electoral game that your students will enjoy can be found at
In its definition of social studies, the National Council for the Social Studies calls for the integration of disciplines including the humanities, sciences and mathematics. So as social studies teachers we are expected to teach math. In addition, you might want to share this article with a math teacher and possibly collaborate on a thematic unit on government, the Constitution or the upcoming elections.
Appellate Courts Welcome You
The Kansas Court of Appeals, an 11-member intermediate appellate court, sits in three-judge panels. The court is pleased to have students attend the hearings. The Court of Appeals will next be hearing cases in Topeka and Wichita October 19-21. Two three-judge panels will sit in Wichita, one at the U.S. Courthouse October 20-22, and the other at the "old" Sedgwick County Courthouse on October 19-20. Three-member panels also will hear appeals in the Judicial Center in Topeka and at the Washburn University School of Law on October 20-21.
The Kansas Supreme Court is the highest court in the state, and includes seven members. Students are also welcome at oral arguments before the Supreme Court. The high court holds its hearings only in Topeka. The Supreme Court will be hearing oral arguments during the week beginning October 11. If you have any questions concerning the Kansas appellate courts, or if you would like to bring your class to either the Kansas Supreme Court or the Kansas Court of Appeals, teachers may contact Ron Keefover, Education and Information Officer of the Office of Judicial Administration, 301 West 10th Avenue, Topeka, Kansas 66612-1507, (785) 296-4872, for assistance. You can also contact Mr. Keefover via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lesson Plan #1:
The Electoral College Game
Grade level: 5-9
Objectives: Students should be able to note some characteristics of the electoral college system in the United States. Specifically, students should be able to note the wide range of electoral votes among the states and how that might affect where candidates and campaigns focus their efforts, how many electoral votes it takes to be elected president, and possibly how winning several small states can affect the outcome of the election.
Handout of game rules-- one for each student or group; tally sheet for states visited handout-one for each group;
Set/Focus Question: If you were a candidate for President would you spend a lot of time campaigning in Kansas? Why or why not?
Teaching Strategies: Lead review discussion on some of the main characteristics of electoral system.
- President not elected by national popular vote but by electoral college vote.
- Each state has a popular vote that determines who gets the state's electoral votes-popular winner takes all electoral votes from that state
- States' electoral vote based largely on population-total electoral votes in each state is the sum of US Senators plus members in the US House of Representatives. All states have 2 Senators and population determines the number of representatives in the House. Kansas has 2 Senators and 4 Representatives in the House for a total of 6 electoral votes.
- Range of electoral votes from a minimum of 3 in several states to 55 in
- Must have majority of 538 total electoral votes or at least 270 electoral votes.
- If you have 3 strong candidates that all win electoral votes, one person may not win majority. In that case, it goes to the House of Representatives for a vote on who wins.
Divide class into two groups of at least 3 students. Hand out and read through the following set of rules to play the game.
ELECTORAL COLLEGE GAME RULES
At the end of a specified time, bring groups back together to determine the winner of the election and hold discussion of results.
- You have three people who may actually visit states and gain points there.
- The presidential candidate can visit only 15 states. If he/she visits a state, you get three (3) campaign points.
- The vice-presidential candidate can visit 18 states. If he/she visits a state, you get two (2) campaign points.
- The campaign worker may visit up to 25 states; you only get 1 campaign point when a campaign worker visits.
- All three may visit one state for a total of 6 campaign points for that state. Or:
- 5a) Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates visit a state ---5 points
- 5b) Presidential candidate and campaign worker visit a state-4 points
- 5c) Vice-presidential candidate and support worker visit a state--3 points
- The other people in your group are there to help you make decisions but can not earn any campaign points.
- If your team has the most campaign points in that state, your candidates win the electoral votes for that state.
- If there is a tie in campaign points for any state, we will draw for the winner of that state's electoral votes.
Student Activities: Students in groups of at least 3 make decisions about what states to focus their campaign on. Choose candidates and campaign worker to sign on tally sheet of states visited. Participate in discussion questions for closure and assessment.
Come together as a class and tally results on board or overhead to determine winner.
Tally Sheet for States Visited
|State ||Electoral |
|V. Pres. |
| Campaign |
|Alabama||9|| || || || |
|Alaska||3|| || || || |
|Arizona||10|| || || || |
|Arkansas||6 || || || || |
|California||55 || || || || |
|Colorado||9 || || || || |
|Connecticut||7|| || || || |
|Delaware||3|| || || || |
|Florida||27 || || || || |
|Georgia||15 || || || || |
|Hawaii||4|| || || || |
|Idaho||4|| || || || |
|Illinois||21 || || || || |
|Indiana ||11|| || || || |
|Iowa||7|| || || || |
|Kansas||6 || || || || |
|Kentucky||8|| || || || |
|Louisiana||9|| || || || |
|Maine||4 || || || || |
|Maryland||10|| || || || |
|Massachusetts||12 || || || || |
|Michigan||17|| || || || |
|Minnesota||10 || || || || |
|Mississippi||6|| || || || |
|Missouri|| 11|| || || || |
|Montana||3|| || || || |
|Nebraska|| 5 || || || || |
|Nevada|| 5|| || || || |
|New Hampshire|| 4 || || || || |
|New Jersey|| 15 || || || || |
|New Mexico||5 || || || || |
|New York|| 31 || || || || |
|North Carolina ||15 || || || || |
|North Dakota||3 || || || || |
|Ohio||20|| || || || |
|Oklahoma|| 7 || || || || |
|Oregon ||7 || || || || |
|Pennsylvania|| 21|| || || || |
|Rhode Island||4 || || || || |
|South Carolina||8|| || || || |
|South Dakota||3 || || || || |
|Tennessee||11 || || || || |
|Texas||34 || || || || |
|Utah||5|| || || || |
|Vermont||3|| || || || |
|Virginia||13 || || || || |
|Washington||11 || || || || |
|West Virginia||5 || || || || |
|Wisconsin||10|| || || || |
|Wyoming||3 || || || || |
Lesson Plan #2: Polling the Electorate
Grade level: Elementary and Middle School
Students will learn what issues adults consider most important by conducting a poll and tracking the opinions of a candidate or current officer holder.
- Give each student two copies of the handout. Tell students to ask two people over the age of eighteen to respond to the poll. The students should place a check mark in the column next to the three issues the adults choose. Practice interviewing and completing the form in class. Remind students to thank participants.
- After polling, divide students into groups of four or five. Have each group tally the poll results and record them on the chalkboard or a large sheet of paper. Once all groups have recorded their responses, have students add the number of participants and figure the percentage choosing each issue. Place the three top issues on a chart
- Select two current candidates for an elected office- one from each major party. Using collected newspapers and other resources, have groups of students find and record opinions of the candidates on the issues, paying attention to differing perspectives.
- Have students draft laws they think might help address these issues, and invite an attorney to class to discuss the laws with the students.
Are you a registered voter? Y N
Which three issues from the list below do you think are the most important and why?
|ISSUE ||WHY IMPORTANT ||Health Care ||
||Economic Conditions (Employment/Jobs) ||
||Foreign Affairs (Involvement with Other Countries) ||
||Budget/Government Spending ||
||Other: ___________________ ||
From: VOICE (Violence-prevention Outcomes in Civic Education) Copyright @ 1997 Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago. This lesson plan can be found online at http://www.crfc.org/polling.html.
Kansas Council for the Social Studies (KCSS)
Fall 2004 Conference
"Social Studies: The Center of it All" will be the theme for the Kansas Council for the Social Studies (KCSS) Fall 2004 Conference, which will be held at the Kansas State Historical Museum on September 26 and 27. Early registration is due by September 15.
The conference will feature an historical bus tour of places associated with the Brown v. Board of Education decision, including a visit to the National Park Service historical site. There also will be a Lewis and Clark presentation at the Monday luncheon.
Registration is $75, which includes breakfast and lunch, if received by September 15 and $90 after that date. Retired and student registration fees are $15. A registration form is online at the KCSS website: http://www.kcss.info
Resources at the Law-Related Education Inventory
The Law-Related Education Inventory has the following items which might be useful in working with students on election issues:
- Election Issues. This filmstrip is for high school students and defines election issues with specific examples and explains categories of issues that have an impact on our society such as foreign affairs, domestic issues, and economic issues. Library number 324.9/D36e.
- The Election of a President. This filmstrip is for middle and high school students and presents the story of how our system for electing the President has changed and how it works today. Library number 324.9/EL25.
- Electing a President Charts. These four posters are geared for grades 5-12 and covers primaries and caucuses, the convention, the campaign, and the election. Each one has teaching activities on the back. Library number 324.6/EL25.
The Law-Related Education Inventory has many resources to help teach about law-related topics. To order a catalog, call Janessa Akin at the Kansas Bar Association, (785) 234-5696. The Kansas Bar Association and the lawyers in your community sponsor the Law-Related Education Inventory. The clearinghouse will mail free copies of law-related posters, games, mock trials, booklets, lesson plans, and other aids. It is open Monday through Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., and Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The director of the Teachers College Resource Center, which houses the Law-Related Education Inventory, Marla Darby, can be reached at Darbymar@esumail.emporia.edu/.
Terrific Technology for Teachers
- http://www.crf-usa.org/election_central/election_central.htm is a great resource from the Constitutional Rights Foundation with topics like "The Electoral Process," "Who Are the Candidates?," "The Media and the Election," "Online Lesson," and "Take Action."
- Go to http://teacher.scholastic.com/activities/election2004/ for topics for kids such as "How to Run for President," "Countdown to Election Day," and "Life as the President." This website also has links to other lesson plans and activities.
- For a good website to get teenagers involved, log on to http://www.rockthevote.org/ sponsored by MTV.
- PBS has a great website with articles, links to teacher resources, with focus on the presidential election and politics in general. To access, click on http://www.pbs.org/newshour/vote2004/.
Law Wise is published by the Kansas Bar Association during the school year. The Kansas Bar Foundation, with Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts funding, provides support for this publication. Published free, on request, for teachers or anyone interested in law-related education, it is edited by Crystal Marietta, Pittsburg, (620) 231-5620. For further information about any projects or articles, contact Ron Keefover, Education and Information Officer of the Office of Judicial Administration, Topeka, (785) 296-4872, or Janessa Akin, Public Services Director of the Kansas Bar Association, Topeka (785) 234-5696. Law Wise is printed at the Kansas Bar Association, 1200 Southwest Harrison, P.O. Box 1037, Topeka, Kansas 66601-1037.