Lesson 1: Ideology and Party
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Lesson 1: Ideology and Party

What issues matter to you? Does a political party align with your views? (45 minutes)


Watch: Bryan Stevenson: “Exercise Your Right to Vote” (2 minutes)

Ask: What steps do you have to take to vote? How do you make an informed vote? What are other ways to be civically engaged, make your voice heard, and advocate for policies that you believe in?

Review Key Terms

Ideology, political party, liberal, conservative, left, right, moderate, closed primary, open primary

Quick Write

What is in the news that catches your attention? What do you care about? What makes you angry? Sad? Happy? Hopeful? What do you support? What are you against? What needs to change?

Small Groups

In breakouts, share what you wrote, then discuss: How can elections impact these issues? What are the differences between candidates and parties? What if my candidate or party loses the election—was it a waste of time? Why or why not? What if I can’t vote? How else can I have an impact?

Whole Class Instruction

What are ideologies and political parties and which do you know about? Discuss what ideologies and political parties are and what roles they play in US government and politics. (This will be a relatively cursory discussion because ideology and parties will be covered in greater depth in a later unit). In your notes, jot down a description of your ideology and the parties you think you most agree with, and most disagree with.

  • Important: Discuss open and closed primaries (9 min video). Be sure that students understand that Pennsylvania currently has a closed primary, and that if they register to vote with a third party or unaffiliated, they will not be able to vote for candidates in the Democratic or Republican Primaries. Voters may change their party affiliation at any time before the voter registration deadline simply by re-registering to vote and checking the “Change of Party” box.

Check for understanding

Ask students to describe the ideologies of several public figures or political parties and have them place them on a left/right continuum on a Google Doc, Jamboard, or Padlet. Students will disagree as to placement, but it’s the discussion that is important.


Ask students to complete the ISideWith.com Quiz (approximately 20 minutes). This is a nonpartisan quiz that asks students a series of questions about issues. The results show the students which parties and candidates have platforms most similar to their beliefs. It’s optional to register and log-in, but doing so will allow students to return to the quiz to update answers, view results, and see sample ballots for future elections. The main focus now is on political parties, so that students that register to vote may make an informed choice.

Ask students that are eligible to vote in the upcoming election (US citizen and 18 by Election Day) to bring their PennDOT ID, driver’s license, AND/OR their Social Security Number to the next class. They will need at least one of these to complete the voter registration form.