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Civics, Voting, and GIS Day!

Posted on November 13 2022

Civics, Voting, and GIS Day!


Dear Educator,

At Maps101, we hope that you were able to vote on November 8th. Since election day is not a national holiday, it is often challenging for some to be able to vote. Early voting may be an option. Most of your students are not old enough to vote—yet. But they will become voting adults and need to understand the importance of civics in their lives. This week, Maps101 takes a look at midterm elections and how they can affect Congress, in particular. We also have an excellent overview of the American government to help students understand basic concepts in our democratic system, a biography of President Joe Biden, an article on what political conventions are, and an explanation of the electoral college. Also of interest this week, November 16th is GIS Day. “GIS” stands for geographic information system. How will your school recognize GIS Day?

First, let’s consider what midterm elections are and how they shape Congress. The three branches of government—executive, legislative, and judiciary—must work together to have a well-functioning system. When the executive branch, or the office of the president, is held by one political party, while the majority in Congress is held by the other party, it is more challenging for there to be policy agreements. Reaching compromise can be difficult, slowing down the government and causing political clashes. Even though the midterm elections are not presidential elections, they can have a major impact on our country, especially if Congress shifts from one party to the other. Also, political watchdogs look at midterm elections as insight into the mindset of the electorate in advance of the presidential election—which in this case will happen in 2024.

This complete, interactive lesson on the government of the United States is a fantastic way to introduce key concepts in civics to your students. They will be able to answer essential questions such as: What are the three branches of government? What makes the two houses of the U.S. Congress different from one another? Which officials are part of the executive branch? How does someone become a Supreme Court Justice? And, what role does the system of checks and balances play? The teacher edition provides numerous suggestions for leveled activities. With Maps101 Lesson Maps, you have all you need to teach complex concepts in an engaging way.


President Joe Biden previously acted as vice president under President Barack Obama. Biden later ran against the then incumbent president, Donald Trump, and became the 46th president of the United States. This biography details more information about the life of Biden, providing context for his political career. You can use the primary source quotes in the article to help students analyze what people say.


The United States currently has a two-party system. The majority of voters support one of two parties: the Democratic Party or the Republican Party. While third parties occasionally do gain a voice in national politics, candidates from such parties have been more the leaders of protest movements than viable, major contenders for office. Both of the major political parties in the U.S. hold national conventions. Students will learn more about these conventions and their purpose through this GNN article. While conventions are held for presidential elections and not midterms, now is a great opportunity to familiarize students with civics concepts in preparation for the upcoming vote in 2024.


As with political conventions, the electoral college plays a role during presidential elections only. But now is an excellent time to help students understand how the electoral college works, as discussions about the popular vote, stealing votes, and alleged election fraud are all hot topics.


As promised, we are going to pivot away from elections for a bit to focus on GIS, or geographic information system technology. According to Esri, the world leader in GIS software, it is a “spatial system that creates, manages, analyzes, and maps all types of data.” In fact, it is amazing to see the breadth of GIS application and how it can help us interpret our world.
For more about this year’s GIS Day, go to this site:
One way you may want to celebrate GIS Day is to encourage your students to make a map and enter it in the Children’s Map Competition. Students can submit entries here:


We hope your weekly tour of topics in the GeoJournal helps not just inform you of themes you can focus on throughout the year, but that it also draws your attention to content you may not have realized is available. Happy hunting for more content that benefits your class this school year. And don’t forget to favorite to save what you use often for easy access.

High-quality geography products for the classroom. From globes to wall maps, atlases to games, offers a wealth of products to help put your classroom on the map.
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