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Rousing Rallies

The Power of the Crowd

In an age of digital communications and virtual reality, why do citizens still turn out – often in droves – to see political candidates?

A photograph shows a fraction of the more than 10,000 supporters that filled Sanders's rally at the Meadow Amphitheater in Irvine, Calif., on May 22, 2016.

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OBJECTIVE: Students will understand reasons why candidate supporters – and opponents – attend political rallies.

MATERIALS: Copies of the case study handout, one per student (download); Organizing Evidence worksheet, one per group (download); access to case study artifacts; NewseumED Pinterest board of related resources (optional)


  1. Ask students to brainstorm all the ways the public is involved in the election process. Can individuals make a difference?
  2. This case study is one of three in the Public Participation section of the EDCollection that looks at the use of social media, campaign events and efforts to change a political process that some consider unfair. Explain that the case study they will be looking at will raise questions about efficacy of public engagement in the election process.
  3. Read the Explore the Debate question aloud and/or write it on the board. Read them the overview that sets the scene for group work. Tell them they will use historical and contemporary examples to reach a consensus in small groups on an answer to the debate question.
  4. Pass out copies of the case study and the Organizing Evidence worksheet. Have the groups read each of the four Election Essentials and use the Questions to Consider to help guide the discussion. They should complete sections 1 and 2 on the worksheet.
  5. Have the students look at the Pages From History artifacts for the case study on and complete section 3 on the worksheet. Give the groups 15 minutes to collect and organize information to formulate evidence-supported arguments for their answer to the debate question. (If time is an issue, skip the artifacts or assign as homework.)
  6. Ask the groups to share their conclusions and reasoning. You may want to use the Questions to Consider again to push and expand the debate.

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Overview PDF DOC
Worksheets PDF DOC
Extensions PDF DOC
Full Packet PDF DOC

To request a large print or Braille version, call 202.292.6650.

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