Teaching About the 2018 Elections - UW-Madison

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Teaching About the 2018 Elections

Preparing Students for Political Engagement

September 22, 2018

8:00 a.m. - ​3:30 p.m.

​Grainger Hall, UW-Madison campus

What is ​the Teaching About the 2018 Elections Conference?

Teaching about elections is one of the best opportunities educators have to prepare young people for political engagement. Yet, we know that teachers are often unsure about how to teach about electoral politics in a way that is engaging, respectful to all points of view, and draws upon the best and most current information. 

The Teaching About the 2018 Elections Conference is an exciting opportunity for K-12 teachers and administrators to: 

  • learn about important election related issues
  • receive training in effective learning strategies
  • be introduced to national civic education programs and their curricula

Who should attend?

K-12 public or private educators, administrators, preservice teachers, and social studies professors. 

What is the cost to attend?

Early registration: $35 (registered by August 24th)
Regular registration: $50 (registered after August 24th)
UW System teacher education students: $10 

​Registration includes breakfast, lunch, and access to electronic materials and high quality curriculum to use in your classroom. 

.4 CEUs are also available at an additional cost of $5. Please indicate during registration if you would like to earn CEUs for your participation.

Discounts may be available for schools/districts sending teams of educators. Contact Matthew Freid at freid@wisc.edu or (716) 553-2654 for inquiries about group discounts.

This conference is funded by the generosity of School of Education graduate Mary Hopkins Gibb and her husband and the Gibb Democracy Education Fund.

How do ​I register?

Registration can be completed online by clicking the red "Register Now" button.

What should I expect at the conference​?

Throughout the day, participants will make choices about which breakout sessions to attend. All sessions are designed to be interactive and focused on issues related to the ​upcoming elections. There will be different types of sessions to choose from.

  • Pedagogical strategies: These sessions will teach participants how to use particular discussion strategies or other interactive activities in the classroom. Some sessions will be designated as more appropriate for elementary teachers; others will focus on activities for middle and high school teachers. 
  • Issue forums: These sessions are designed to educate teachers about some of the most important issues facing the U.S. and Wisconsin. Issue forums will be led by University of Wisconsin faculty with content expertise about a particular issue. These sessions will be structured to engage participants in discussions of controversial issues.
  • Featured curricula: Some of the most well regarded civic education organizations from around the country will be leading sessions on how to use their curricula. Participants will learn about a variety of resources and teaching techniques.
  • Administrator sessions: Are you a school administrator? Learn how to support high quality civics teaching in your school. These sessions are designed specifically for administrators.

Featured Presenters

Craig Gilbert headshot

Craig Gilbert

Craig Gilbert is the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Washington Bureau Chief and author of “The Wisconsin Voter” political blog. Gilbert has covered every presidential campaign since 1988 and has written extensively about the electoral battle for the swing states of the industrial Midwest, political polarization, the urban-rural divide and the political climate during the Trump presidency. He has appeared on PBS, MSNBC, CNN, FOX News and NPR. His blog was named “Best Political Blog” by Editor & Publisher and the Columbia Journalism Review called him the “most political science-friendly reporter in America.” His work also appears in USA Today.

Gilbert has been a writer in residence at the University of Wisconsin and a fellow at the Marquette Law School at the University of Michigan, where he studied public opinion, survey research, voting behavior and statistics. He previously worked for the Miami Herald, the Kingston (NY) Daily Freeman and was a speechwriter for New York Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Gilbert has a B.A. in History from Yale University.   

Diana Hess headshot
Jessica Marshall headshot
Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg headshot
Lew Friedland headshot
Bianca Baldridge headshot

Diana Hess

Diana E. Hess is the Dean of the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she also holds the Karen A. Falk Distinguished Chair of Education. Formerly, Hess was the Senior Vice President of the Spencer Foundation. Since 1997, she has been researching how teachers engage their students in discussions of highly controversial political and constitutional issues, and what impact this approach to civic education has on what young people learn. Her first book on this topic, Controversy in the Classroom: The Democratic Power of Discussion won the National Council for the Social Studies Exemplary Research Award in 2009. Her most recent book, The Political Classroom: Evidence and Ethics in Democratic Education, co-authored with Paula McAvoy, won the American Educational Research Association’s Outstanding Book Award in 2016 and the prestigious Grawemeyer Award in 2017.  

Professor Hess is deeply committed to working with teachers to improve the quality of democratic education in schools. To that end, she frequently keynotes conferences and leads professional development courses and workshops. Professor Hess serves on the board of the Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago and the iCivics Scholars Advisory Board. 

Jessica Marshall

Jessica Marshall served as the Director of Social Science and Civic Engagement for the Chicago Public Schools where her work has focused on re-imagining and broadening civic learning opportunities to reach all students. CPS has emerged as a national leader in K-12 civic education, expanding initiatives that build student voice and ensuring all students have access to a dynamic and research based civics curriculum. She has served on the Illinois Civic Mission Coalition and the Illinois State Social Studies Task Force. Jessie began her career in education in 2006, as a teacher in the South Bronx, NY. She returned to Chicago to serve at Alcott College Prep in 2010 where she led civic education initiatives that earned the school designation as an Illinois Democracy School. Jessie, a proud Chicago native and CPS graduate, earned a BA in Sociology and Latin American Studies from Dartmouth College and an MS in Special Education from City College - City University of New York. This fall she will be transitioning to a doctoral program at Northwestern University where she will continue to explore opportunities to deepen civic learning experiences for youth.

Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg

Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg is the director of The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) at Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University.  CIRCLE is a renowned nonpartisan national research institute that focuses on youth civic learning and engagement.  She manages CIRCLE’s expansive portfolio of research initiatives, tools for educators and policymakers, and reports that influence policy and practice in civic learning. With a background in positive youth development and interest in diverse and marginalized youth, she sees research can be a powerful tool to address inequity by affecting policies and practice. Kei was a key author on most of CIRCLE’s key reports and is widely published in various peer-reviewed journals, professional journals.  From 2016 to 2018, Kei was part of the inaugural cohort of the Distinguished Student-Centered Learning Fellowship program along with either other education leaders across disciplines and roles. As a leading voice in youth civic learning and engagementsector, Kei also frequently featured in major media outlets such as the New York Times, Atlantic, National Public RadioChannel 1, and NBC.

Lewis A. Friedland

Lewis A. Friedland is Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, affiliated with the Departments of Sociology and Educational Psychology. He directs the Center for Communication and Democracy and teaches and conducts research on theory of the public sphere and civil society, the impact of new communication technology on society and community, social networks, community structure, public television, and qualitative and social network research methods.   Friedland received the Ph.D. in sociology from Brandeis University (1985) and his A.B from Washington University in St. Louis (1974).

He is Principal Investigator for the UW 2020 project, “Communication Ecologies, Political Contention, and the Crisis of Democracy,” which is a systematic investigation of political communication in the state of Wisconsin from 2010-2018, (awarded a combined $500,000) examining the rise of political contention across every available layer of communication, including newspapers, broadcast, talk radio, twitter, social media, as well as in-depth interviews with citizens and political leaders in communities across the state.

Bianca Baldridge

Dr. Baldridge earned her PhD from Columbia University’s Teachers College. Her scholarship examines the political and social context of community-based educational spaces and afterschool education. Dr. Baldridge’s work critically examines the confluence of race, class, and gender, and its impact on neoliberal economic and educational reforms that shape community-based educational spaces engaging Black youth in marginalized communities. Further, Dr. Baldridge’s scholarship explores the organizational and pedagogical practices employed by youth workers/community-based educators and their connection to school spaces amidst neoliberal education restructuring. As an ethnographer, she closely examines the experiences of youth and educators within community-based educational spaces. Dr. Baldridge’s experiences as an educator within community-based youth programs continues to inform her research in profound ways.


8:00 a.m. -8:30 a.m.  Registration and Breakfast 
8:30 a.m.- 8:40 a.m.   Welcome
 8:40 a.m. - 9:45 a.m.  Keynote Panel on Pedagogy
 10:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m.  Breakout Session #1
11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m.   Breakout Session #2
 12:15 p.m.-1:15 p.m.  Lunch
 1:15 p.m.- 2:15 p.m. ​Keynote Panel on Journalism
 2:30 p.m.- 3:30 p.m.  Breakout Session #3

Is lodging available?

Yes. A limited number of rooms are available at the Madison Concourse Hotel starting at $122 per night.

Room reservation information will be posted as soon as it is available.

Where do I park?

Hourly parking is available (space permitting) at the following locations​:

  • Lot 7: Grainger Hall, 325 N Brooks St, Madison, WI 53715
  • Lot 83: ​Fluno Center, 314 N Frances St, Madison, WI 53703
  • Lot 46: Lake & Johnson, 301 N. Lake St., Madison, WI 53715

Please note that lots may fill up quickly depending on other events happening around campus. For real time parking availability, visit https://transportation.wisc.edu/parking-lots/lot-occupancy-count/.


Contact Matthew Freid at freid@wisc.edu or (716) 553-2654.


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