Election 2016: 10 Ways for Students to Stay Engaged This Summer

Posted By on June 21, 2016

Though our lesson plans will be on vacation until mid-August, election news will continue to dominate the headlines all summer long.

Here are a few ways students can keep up with the candidates, campaigns, conventions and controversies — and make their own opinions heard.


1. Keep Track of the Twists and Turns


2. React to What You Read

— Post your thoughts on any Times article, Op-Ed, image, video or graphic any week from June 17 to Aug. 26 to enter our Summer Reading Contest.

Speak back to media with projects suggested by our partners atLetters to the Next President, from making political art to creating infographics. Post your creations to Twitter, Instagram or Facebook with the hashtag #2NextPrez.

— Join conversations on social media using relevant hashtags, like #Election2016, #ImWithHer, #Trump2016 , #feeltheBern, #GOPconvention, #DemConvention, etc.

— Take photos around a political issue you care about, or that illustrate the democratic process itself. This compilation of Times images from the 2016 primaries proves that it’s not necessary to have a candidate in the shot to compose an eloquent image.

— Create an editorial cartoon, like these that won our contest last fall.

Retell a political news story in just six well-chosen words.


3. Figure Out Where You Stand

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<a href="http://www.isidewith.com/">Related Website</a>
Related WebsiteCredit

What party best expresses your beliefs? These quizzes can help you figure that out:

Which candidate do you support? Though the quizzes below were created when the field was much larger, answering their questions can still help you think through where you stand on key issues:


4. Adopt an Issue

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An almost dry Mae Chang reservoir in Lampang Province, northern Thailand, in March. The effects of the current El Niño have been exacerbated by global warming. <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/20/science/2016-global-warming-record-temperatures-climate-change.html">Related Article</a>
An almost dry Mae Chang reservoir in Lampang Province, northern Thailand, in March. The effects of the current El Niño have been exacerbated by global warming. Related ArticleCredit Rungroj Yongrit/European Pressphoto Agency

Climate change? Education? Immigration? Choose something you care about, and read, watch and collect pieces related to it from different news sources and points of view.

To get out of your “filter bubble” and help surface information fromsources that will challenge your thinking, make sure to seek out information from a variety of political points of view, and fromaround the world.

For inspiration, here are some short student videos about issues. You might also answer our Student Opinion question, What Issues in the 2016 Presidential Race Are Most Important to You?


5. Watch the Conventions

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A Republican supporter wore a tie decorated with elephant mascots at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., in 2012.<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/29/us/politics/survey-of-republican-voters-shows-a-majority-believe-in-climate-change.html"> Related Article</a>
A Republican supporter wore a tie decorated with elephant mascots at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., in 2012. Related ArticleCredit Daniel Acker/Bloomberg, via Getty Images

“Recent political conventions have grown so scripted and choreographed that moments of true spontaneity are rare. This year, when history seems to be providing little guiding precedent, could be the one that shatters the calm,” writes Jeremy W. Peters in his “Five Ways the Republican Convention Could Still Be Contentious.”

Both parties hold their conventions this July, the Republicans in Cleveland from the 18th to the 21st, and the Democrats in Philadelphia July 25th to 28th.

Polls show that Republicans, especially, are concerned about the future of their party — but Bernie Sanders has vowed to take his campaign all the way to the convention, so Democrats, too, are facing big questions.

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<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/20/us/politics/donald-trump-hillary-clinton-poll.html">Related Article</a>
Related ArticleCredit

Both parties approach the conventions “with significant unease and hurdles to overcome,” Times reporters write in Republicans Want Their Party to Unify Behind Donald Trump, Poll Shows:

Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton are widely disliked by voters, and both parties will need to repair schisms that might spell doom in an ordinary election year. But this, of course, is no ordinary year.

Mr. Trump’s and Mrs. Clinton’s soaring levels of unpopularity are extraordinary for the likely nominees of the two major parties. Nearly two-thirds of voters, for example, say that Mr. Trump is not honest and trustworthy. Just as many say the same of Mrs. Clinton. Strong majorities of voters say the candidates do not share their values.

What do you expect to happen? Why? That leads us to our next idea …


6. Predict the Unpredictable

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<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/05/upshot/what-i-got-wrong-about-donald-trump.html">Related Article</a>
Related ArticleCredit Damon Winter/The New York Times

In one of the most unpredictable election seasons in modern memory, Donald Trump is Exhibit A.

The Upshot explains why we’re so bad at predicting rare events:

Anyone can simply be unlucky. But there are systematic biases and errors our puny human brains tend to make repeatedly when we try to predict the future, some of which are evident in the biggest political and sports upsets of 2016.

Make five to 10 predictions about what you think will happen before Election 2016 is over, and post or save them somewhere — perhaps challenging your friends or classmates to do the same. Then, follow the news to see how close you come, and to analyze what you got right and wrong.

Before you do, however, you might want to read The Upshot’s Nate Cohn on “What I Got Wrong About Donald Trump.

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