Student View

Standards Correlations

R.1, R.2, R.4, R.7, R.9, W.3, SL.1, L.4, L.6

Learning Objective

Students will read an article about the 2020 elections and answer detail questions to summarize the article.

Key Skills

summarizing, text features, vocabulary, reading for information, synthesizing, critical thinking, narrative writing

Complexity Factors

Purpose: The article gives information about the 2020 elections: who’s running, what makes this year unique, and how students can get involved. 

Structure: The article is written in question-and-answer format and includes call-out bubbles for fun facts, tips, and key points. 

Language: The language is informational. Domain-specific vocabulary is defined in the text and in the vocabulary box.

Knowledge Demands: The text refers to the U.S. Congress. 


Lexile Level: 600L-700L

Guided Reading Level: T

DRA Level: 50

Lesson Plan: The Race to the White House

Essential Questions

  • Why are elections important?
  • What big issues are American voters thinking about right now?

Literature Connection

  • Novel: Running by Natalia Sylvester
  • Civics: For Which We Stand by Jeff Foster

1. Preparing to Read 

Build Background Knowledge  (5 minutes) 

Preview Text Features (15 minutes)

Guide students to locate the article. Preview the text features by asking the following questions:

  • Read the title and the subtitle.  What do you already know about this year’s elections? What do you want to know? Answers will vary.
  • Look at the photos on page 5. What are the names of the people in the photos? Where in the article can you learn more about them? The people in the photos are Donald Trump, Joe Biden, Mike Pence, and Kamala Harris. You can learn more about Trump and Biden by reading the section “Who’s running for president?” You can learn more about Pence and Harris by reading the section “Why should we care who’s running for vice president?”
  • Look at the fifth section heading, “How can you get involved?” Based on the photo and caption next to it, what do you think the answer might be? The photo is of a teen wearing a button that says “VOTE.” The caption suggests that teens can encourage people to vote. The section probably says that teens can help by reminding people that it’s important to vote.

Preview Vocabulary (10 minutes)

  • Point out the vocabulary box. Read the words (political, candidates, campaign, majority, democratic) aloud and discuss their definitions.
  • Play the Vocabulary Slideshow

Make a Plan for Reading  (5 minutes)

Before students start to read, walk them through a reading plan:

  • Set a purpose for reading: Tell students that they will read the article to learn important facts about the election, and then they’ll write a summary of the article.
  • Point out the section headings; each one is a question. Tell students they can check their understanding of what they’ve read by pausing after each section to see if they can answer the question posed in the heading.
  • Point out the activity at the end of the article and tell students they’ll complete it after reading. Guide them to briefly scan the questions in the activity and to keep them in mind as they read.

2. Reading and Unpacking the Text

Guide students to read the article. Once they understand the text, discuss the following questions. 

Close-Reading Questions (15 minutes)

  • What political party does Donald Trump belong to? What party does Joe Biden belong to? (reading for information) Trump belongs to the Republican Party. Biden belongs to the Democratic Party.
  • In what ways would Kamala Harris be a history-making U.S. vice president? (synthesizing) Harris would be the country’s first female vice president. She would also be the first Black and the first Asian American vice president.
  • What percentage of American voters voted in the 2016 election? (reading for information) Only 58 percent of voters voted in the 2016 election.

Critical-Thinking Questions (10 minutes)

  • In your opinion, are this year’s elections more important than those of years past? Why or why not? (critical thinking) Answers will vary. Some students may say that this year’s elections feel more important because the country is going through a difficult time with the pandemic and problems around racism and police violence. Others may argue that these elections are no different than others and that the U.S. has faced hard times in the past too.
  • The author notes that the U.S. has never had a female leader, while many other countries have. Why do you think this is? (critical thinking) Answers will vary. Some students might say that many people in the U.S. still think men make better leaders than women; others might say it’s simply coincidence that the men who have run for office have been more successful.

3. Skill Building

  • Have students work in pairs to complete the Summarizing activity at the end of the article.
  • Use our Summarizing Skill Builder, available in higher and lower level versions. (Click here to view all your Skill Builders.)
  • Writing prompt: Imagine that it’s the year 2048, and you’re running for president. Write a short speech describing how you plan to lead the country. Think about the issues that are important to you and what you think the country might be dealing with 28 years from now.

Learn Anywhere Activity

An enrichment activity to extend the learning journey at home or in the classroom

Get Out the Vote!

Connect with your community by reminding neighbors that their voices count. No matter who you vote for, elections are a chance to help shape our world. 

Make a poster (which you’ll place in your window or somewhere else where people will see it) to remind your friends, family, and neighbors that their votes matter. There’s no need to say which candidate you want people to vote for; just let them know that their voices need to be heard. You can also include information about where and how to vote in your area.

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