Understanding Redistricting

Home Representation Redistricting
Teacher Guide Reapportionment Simulations

Teacher Guide: Learning Context

Learning Context | Procedure| Instructional Modifications |
Time Required | Resources | Assessment Plan

Purpose and Curricular Connections:

Focal question: How do changes in population affect government representation?

The purpose of this unit is for students to learn about the redistricting process and the issues that impact redistricting decisions. Using US Census data and interactive census maps, students will analyze the impact of population changes on redistricting. Using a web-based simulation game, students will work in groups to role-play the process of a legislative task force making redistricting recommendations for Congressional districts in New York State. Supplementary activities are also available to enliven the activity and take advantage of multiple intelligences of students in each working group. Students will have an opportunity to complete group projects to demonstrate their mastery of the topic.

Learner Outcomes: After the students complete the learning experience they should be able to:

  • Understand the impact of the population change on the legislative process.
  • Understand key issues related to redistricting.
  • Evaluate redistricting issues from a variety of perspectives.
  • Critically examine and interpret data from census tables and interactive political/population maps.
  • Research redistricting issues through a variety of media, including primary documents, newspapers, magazines, the Internet, electronic databases of articles and US Census materials.
  • Work effectively as a cooperative group.
  • Understand the redistricting process as a part of responsible citizenship.
  • The learning experience asks students to interpret data from US Census tables, interactive maps and primary source material to illustrate changes in population by county and Congressional district in New York State. Student will gain an appreciation of population trends by geographical location, race, and age.

    Students will examine a broad range of legal, political and social concerns brought to the surface in the redistricting discussions. For students, who will soon be citizen voters, it is crucial to understand their governmental system and the issues that impact public policy and by extension, their lives and communities. By using interactive maps and role-playing scenarios, students will become engaged in complex and difficult political issues. They will also gain an appreciation of the importance of the Census and its political ramifications.

    This learning experience is intended for the New York State 12th grade Social Studies course, "Participation in Government". This course helps students to translate what they have learned during school into a real experiences as a responsible citizen. The Understanding Redistricting Learning Experience deals with real and substantive issues at the local, state and federal level. It allows students to approach the topic as a responsible citizen and apply data and research appropriately to understand the issue from multiple perspectives. The curriculum can also be appropriately used in other high school courses that address Civics and US government.

    It should be noted that students best process this experience as a group learning experience with role-playing and discussion. As a result of their study student groups will demonstrate their understanding of redistricting issues by creating a group presentation. See Procedure Lesson Plans for suggestions.

    Standards and Performance Indicators:

    Standard 1: History of the United States and New York
    Students will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of major ideas, eras, themes, developments, and turning points in the history of the United States and New York.

    Performance Indicators for Standard 1:

    1.The study of New York State and United States history requires an analysis of the development of American culture, its diversity
    and multicultural context, and the ways people are unified by many values, practices, and traditions.

    • Students describe the evolution of American democratic values and beliefs as expressed in the Declaration of Independence, the New York State Constitution, the United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and other important
      historical documents.

    2.Important ideas, social and cultural values, beliefs, and traditions from New York State and United States history illustrate the
    connections and interactions of people and events across time and from a variety of perspectives.

    • Students examine how the Constitution, United States law, and the rights of citizenship provide a major unifying factor in bringing together Americans from diverse roots and traditions.

    3.Study about the major social, political, economic, cultural, and religious developments in New York State and United States
    history involves learning about the important roles and contributions of individuals and groups.

    • Students research and analyze the major themes and developments in New York State and United States history (e.g. colonization and settlement; Revolution and New national Period; immigration; expansion and reform era; Civil War and Reconstruction; the American labor movement; Great Depression; World Wars; contemporary United States).

    • Students prepare essays and oral reports about the important social, political, economic, scientific, technological, and cultural developments, issues, and events from New York State and United States history.

    Standard 3 Geography
    Students will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of the geography of the interdependent world in
    which we live - local, national, and global - including the distribution of people, places, and environments over the Earth's surface.

    Performance Indicators for Standard 3

    1.Geography can be divided into six essential elements which can be used to analyze important historic, geographic, economic, and
    environmental questions and issues. These six elements include: the world in spatial terms, places and regions, physical settings
    (including natural resources), human systems, environment and society, and the use of geography.
    • Students understand how to develop and use maps and other graphic representations to display geographic issues, problems, and questions.

    • Students analyze how the forces of cooperation and conflict among people influence the division and control of the Earth's surface.

    2.Geography requires the development and application of the skills of asking and answering geographic questions; analyzing theories of geography; and acquiring, organizing and analyzing geographic information.

    Students plan, organize, and present geographic research projects.

    • Students locate and gather geographic information from a variety of primary and secondary sources.
    • Students select and design maps, graphs, tables, charts, diagrams, and other graphic representations to present geographic
    • Students analyze geographic information by developing and testing inferences and hypotheses, and formulating conclusions
      from maps, photographs, computer models and other geographic representations.
    • Students develop and test generalizations and conclusions and pose analytical questions based on the results of geographic inquiry.

    Standard 5 Civics, Citizenship, and Government
    Students will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of the necessity for establishing governments; the
    governmental system of the US and other nations; the US Constitution; the basic civic values of American constitutional democracy;and the roles, rights, and responsibilities of citizenship, including avenues of participation.

    Performance Indicators for Standard 5

    Civics, Citizenship and Government
    4.The study of civics and citizenship requires the ability to probe ideas and assumptions, ask and answer analytical questions, take a
    skeptical attitude toward questionable arguments, evaluate evidence, formulate rational conclusions, and develop and refine
    participatory skills.

    • Students evaluate, take, and defend positions on what the fundamental values and principles of American political life are
      and their importance to the maintenance of constitutional democracy.
    • Students take, defend, and evaluate positions about attitudes that facilitate thoughtful and effective participation in public
    • Students participate in school/classroom/community activities that focus on an issue or problem.

    Prior Knowledge

    The experience is designed as an advanced unit of the Participation in Government course. Before entering into this project students have learned about form and function of government in their 11th grade US History course. The students should understand about the concept of representation and basic interpretation of data in charts and maps.

    Student knowledge of how to research materials, the Internet and basic comfort level with computers is helpful. It is expected that 11th and 12th grade students are developing these skills. This learning experience can be used to reinforce these skills.

    Student knowledge of certain technologies is helpful. The Internet is an excellent source of information on this topic and some students may elect to create web sites as their group presentation.

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