Students take on the role of politician to identify stakeholders on a controversial policy issue and craft a series of statements that address each group.
Give each student an assigned hypothetical identity as an elected official (e.g., junior senator from Kansas). Choose a ProCon.org topic that presents a controversial policy issue facing that official. Allow students to read about the topic and its background on ProCon.org. Using information from the background and the quotes, have the class generate a list of stakeholders, i.e., all the individuals or groups that would be interested in this issue or invested in its outcome.
Briefly discuss the ways that successful politicians maximize the number of constituents they satisfy when choosing a position on a controversial issue. Then, from this perspective, each student should choose at least three stakeholders from the list and write three matching blog posts, each specifically targeted to one of the stakeholders explaining how they plan to vote on the issue. Then ask students to compare what stayed the same and what was changed for each target audience.
Choose a topic with well-defined stakeholder groups (e.g., Medical Marijuana, Death Penalty, or Illegal Immigration).
Start the brainstorming session with a posted list of stakeholder types and help students in creating a list of stakeholders specific to the topic.
Pair weaker students with stronger classmates and assign them the role of staffer who aids the politician in preparing statements.
Make the lesson harder (click to expand)
Choose a topic with fewer well-defined interest groups. Try Felon Voting, Drones, or Animal Testing.
Have students choose different forms of communication and justify why they would use each particular form for each target audience (e.g., an announcement on a social media page, a formal press release, a tweet, a TV or radio ad, a YouTube video, etc.).
Before students write their own pieces, have them look at the websites of several elected officials to see how issues are framed, including websites of politicians on opposite sides of the political spectrum. Discuss who the target audiences are for these web pages and how students know.
After students do their initial research on ProCon.org, pause to discuss who the target audience is for ProCon.org and how they can tell.