Political Conventions


Here's your chance to see the candidates for President of the United States - and learn more about their party's platform!

When you watch a political convention, live or on video, you can learn many things, including:

  • Electing a President
  • All levels and branches of government
  • Roles of citizens and leaders
  • Democracy, political process, elections and voting
  • Civic participation and leadership
  • Current events and public policy issues
  • Reading and analyzing information; media literacy
  • Writing to communicate information, ideas, facts and opinions
  • Communicating a position, listening to others, debating a topic with civility
  • And more!



Every four years, American citizens elect a candidate to serve as President of the United States. Part of the road to the White House involves political conventions.

Libertarian National Convention (LNC) - May 27-30, 2016 in Orlando, Florida.

Republican National Convention (RNC) - July 18-21, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.

Democractic National Convention (DNC) - July 25-28, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


Many television networks will have convention coverage at night. They might focus on one speech and do a summary of everything else that happened that day. C-SPAN provides “gavel to gavel” coverage, meaning you can watch EVERYTHING. Major speeches are held each evening, with the candidate taking the stage the final night to accept the nomination.

Video: Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson accepts the nomination | Text of speech

Video: Republican candidate Donald Trump accepts the nomination | Text of speech

Video: Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton accepts the nomination | Text of speech

Things to think about

As you watch the conventions, make notes and think about what you see – what does the stage look like? What are the delegates doing? What do the signs say? What is the media doing? Which topics are being covered? Any surprises? What did you learn and will remember forever? Use the scorecard to keep track and compare the conventions. Download the activity

Play convention bingo

Watch the convention speakers and candidates. Mark the topics they cover in the speeches. Make copies for each convention and speech. Download activity sheet

Are they talking to me?

Before you watch or read about the conventions and speakers, decide which 1-3 topics are most important to you. Then decide which 1-3 topics you predict the speakers and presidential candidates will talk about. Are the topics you picked the same, or different, as the ones you predict they will talk about? Watch or read about the conventions and speakers. Were your topics covered? How many times? Did you correctly predict what the speakers and candidates would talk about? Read and download activity

Connecting Government

Watch the keynote, nomination and/or acceptance speech. If you are studying any form of government in school, keep track of the number of times the candidate mentions something that could impact one a different level of government. Download activity 

Getting the Message Across

Watch the convention speakers or candidates. What is the key message the speaker is trying to deliver? How does the speaker communicate the information? Does he/she read from a piece of paper? How does he/she use voice and hands to make a specific point? Does the speaker show emotions and expressions? How? Why? When? Does he/she look confident? How? How is he/she dressed? Does this matter? Do people pay attention? How?  Is he/she persuasive? How? What do you think is the most effective thing he/she does to communicate the information? Least effective? Download activity

What’s your Response?

Watch a convention speech on TV or the web. Play the role of the opposite candidate or political party. (Do this for each conventions – play the roles of ALL sides!) Write and/or deliver your opposition response.  Be sure to address the key point the candidate made. Why would YOUR ideas and solutions be better? Download activity

What’s for kids?

What does the candidate talk about that is of interest to or affects kids? How many times does he/she talk about kids or things important to kids? Why do you think that is?

Check the Facts

Is the candidate being truthful? Check the facts! Download activity

Write the headline

Watch the convention speeches or news coverage. Pay attention, and answer these questions. Write your answers or share in groups or with your class or with your family. If you were reporting on the convention, a speaker, or candidate, what would your headline be? The next day, read actual headlines. Were you close? Were they right? Why or why not? Read headlines from different news sources. What do they say? How are they similar or different? Why? Download activity

Campaign Strategy

You're in charge of this campaign. What do you recommend your candidate do to increase his/her chances of winning this election? Download activity

Student Voice

Your turn! GenerationNation invites all students to report on the political conventions through written articles, social media, photos and video. What, or who do you see? Which topics are being discussed? What do you think about everything you see? Make your youth voice heard! Download the activity

Tags: analysis, elections, events and holidays, government, news and media literacy, president, reading information

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