Friday, 8 April 2011

Referendum resources

It's almost a year since a site contributor brought my attention to the easy-read guide to voting from the Electoral Commission.

Another new booklet has just been released on About my vote (an Electoral Commission sub-site). Local Elections and Referendum is a beautifully clear document that explains the AV (alternative vote) and the 'first past the post' systems.

Separate booklets for England, NI, Scotland and Wales can be downloaded from this page which also has links to large print and audio versions.

I like the way diagrams have been used to explain AV and it's got me thinking: "How can I simulate an AV voting system in my Foundation Functional maths/English class of 12 students?" 

I haven't come up with anything concrete yet - not even sure what we would vote for (maybe something to do with changes students would like around college?).

Anyhow - the booklet looks useful as stimulus in both literacy, numeracy and life-skills classes.

There's also a note on this page that states "BSL and Easy Read formats will be available shortly". How they'll improve on the already-very-clear standard version will be interesting to see.

If you have any ideas on simulating an AV system in the classroom with Entry level learners, please share them by leaving a comment. Likewise if you use the booklet successfully for any other literacy or numeracy activity. 


Leia said...

That's lovely. I've been looking for an easy to understand explanation of AV voting for my learners.

Also been trying to think of a suitable subject and way of modelling the voting to look at the different effects of First Past the Post vs AV.

We often do surveys in the group when working around referendum and voting topics, perhaps we'll try that with ranked preferences instead of favourites.

Maggie said...

Yes I'm still racking my brains as to what we could vote for to demonstrate the two methods clearly. Someone has suggested voting on where my students want to go for their end of term trip.

Whatever we vote on I'm also still thinking of the best way to deliver the "election"(at Entry Level). Some kind of kinaesthetic way where students move to different areas of the class room might work but would be better with larger numbers of learners. So maybe some kind of computer or PPT visualisation / model? (I'm hopeless with Excel but that might well be better).

Leia said...

I used a Google presentation on it last year (think I may have got the link from here originally!)

I actually printed out and chopped up the slides so they could do it physically with sorting cards, making each person the 'counter' for one for the imaginary constituencies.

Finding out who'd 'won', then counting the overall cards for each. Worked fairly well -- some hiccups with inaccurate counting, as you'd expect but that made for good discussion anyway.

They put the results into a shared spreadsheet but you could do it almost as easily by hand.

Maggie said...

Yes I think my students would also learn best by physically sorting cards, objects or maybe even chocolate bars! (See below)

By chance a Conservative canvasser knocked on my door two nights ago. He didn't manage to convert me (!) but we did have an interesting chat. He passed on a good idea about simulating AV by asking students to vote for their favourite chocolate bar.

Apparently people have been doing this at dinner parties. Of course, he was coming at it from the anti-AV angle: saying that if you use AV the chocolate bar that 'wins' is highly unlikely to be anyone's favourite.

I like the idea though and am going to adapt it for my group. I'm actually teaching them on May 5th so you can't get much more on-topic than that! It will also lead quite nicely into general data handling work on bar charts, tallies, surveys, etc.

In the meantime - has anyone got any ideas for something on the Royal Wedding for my lesson with the same group the week before? I'm toying with work on maps and directions - relating it to the wedding procession route and then coming up with our own routes around the college campus.... That's as far as my thoughts have got. Maybe I'll start a new blog post...

This video might make a fun start to the session: