Comparing and Contrasting Political Change through Map Making

A lesson plan for grades 11 - 12 Social Studies
By Lee Adcock

In this lesson, students will work in cooperative groups to compare and contrast the following presidential elections: 1876, 1896, 1948, 1964, 1972, 1980, and 2008 through the creation of political maps. In addition, each group will provide explanations of campaign platforms for different political parties, voting patterns, and why the election is important for understanding changes in Southern Politics. Students will then present their map and detailed explanations to the class.

Learning Outcomes

Students will analyze social, economic, and political trends that influenced and were the result of presidential elections from 1876-2008.

Students will identify important figures/events that shaped southern politics from 1876-2008.

Students will assess the extent to which the Civil Rights Movement contributed to changes in southern politics over time.

Students will discuss how changes in southern politics have shaped contemporary political elections and platforms.

Teacher Planning

Time required for lesson
Three 50-minute class periods


  • Documenting the American South website
  • Transcript of oral history excerpts - One copy per student
  • Poster Board
  • Markers

Technology Resources

  • Computer with Internet connection (if streaming oral history excerpts directly from this site.)
  • Speakers
  • LCD projector
  • CD player, if burning a CD of oral history excerpts


Students should have basic background knowledge of the history of political elections in the United States from 1876-2008.

Teacher should review Documenting the American South web site to review intended learning materials.

Teachers should listen to the oral history excerpts and review discussion questions.

Teacher should consider cooperative groupings and prepare materials for each group.


Teacher should introduce lesson by:

Reviewing with students the impact and issues associated with reconstruction on the southern United States.

  • Especially: Reconstruction Plans, Reconstruction Amendments, Role of Freedman's Bureau, Compromise of 1877

Explain that current trends in politics have been shaped by factors such as race, economics, and social stratification.

  • Examples: 2008 election and race

Students work in cooperative groups consisting of 3-4 students each.

Each group will be given a random election year based on the following dates: 1876, 1896, 1948, 1964, 1972, 1980, and 2008

Using poster board, student groups should generate a presidential election map corresponding with their election year. Properly labeling: All parties involved, Candidates, and a Key

Teacher Answer Keys:

Students will then review an appropriate oral history on the Documenting the American South website concerning their specific election era and work cooperatively to produce a presentation of their election and the factors contributing to and resulting from the politic cycle of that year based on class readings, Doc South oral history excerpts, and class discussion

1876 Election Aaron Henry: []

1896 Election []

1948 Election []

1964 Election

1972 Election

1980 Election

2008 Election: (No Oral History Excerpt, Please refer to the following)

Each student in the group should be responsible for a defined aspect of the presentation. (i.e. - one or two students are map-makers, one student presents oral history link, one student is responsible for conveying historical relevance, etc.)

Presentations 10-15 minutes

Students will introduce their election year by offering classmates pertinent historical background information, sharing their assigned oral history and leading other learners in a discussion surrounding the connection between the oral and written history of the political election. Groups will then share their maps depicting the visual representation of the election.

Examples of Questions to be discussed/answered:

  • Explain the candidates and briefly describe their platform
  • What does the election results say about the South during this period?
  • What social, political, and ideological trends should the class be aware of as a result of the election?
  • What is the connection between the student's oral history excerpt and the election era?

Class Viewing and Discussion

As a class, students will view all political maps together as a visual reference for understanding how the electorate changed over the course 1876-2008. Students will discuss ideas concerning the general shifts in electorate across the South and establish broad inferences about political, social and ideological factors contributing to and result from these trends.


Students should be assessed based on their participation within the wider class discussion.

Similarly, assessments conducted based on each individual student's contribution to their group should be evaluated.

Students will then write an essay based on the totality of their understanding of the electoral changes across the South from 1876-2008.

North Carolina Curriculum Alignment

North Carolina Standard Course of Study - Grades 11-12 United States History

Competency Goal 3: Crisis, Civil War, and Reconstruction (1848-1877) - The learner will analyze the issues that led to the Civil War, the effects of the war, and the impact of Reconstruction on the nation.

  • Objective 3.04 - Analyze the political, economic, and social impact of Reconstruction on the nation and identify the reasons why Reconstruction came to an end.

Competency Goal 5: Becoming an Industrial Society (1877-1900) - The learner will describe innovations in technology and business practices and assess their impact on economic, political, and social life in America.

  • Objective 5.04 - Describe the changing role of government in economic and political affairs.

Competency Goal 7: The Progressive Movement in the United States (1890-1914) - The learner will analyze the economic, political, and social reforms of the Progressive Period.

  • Objective 7.02 - Analyze how different groups of Americans made economic and political gains in the Progressive Period.

Competency Goal 11: Recovery, Prosperity, and Turmoil (1945-1980) - The learner will trace economic, political, and social developments and assess their significance for the lives of Americans during this time period.

  • Objective 11.02 - Trace major events of the Civil Rights Movement and evaluate its impact.
  • Objective 11.03 - Identify major social movements including, but not limited to, those involving women, young people, and the environment, and evaluate the impact of these movements on the United States' society.
  • Objective 11.06 - Identify political events and the actions and reactions of the government officials and citizens, and assess the social and political consequences.