Here is my opinion on the idea of using mock elections and debates to effectively teach civics.
Though my ideas are outlined in my opinion, I do want to throw out some of the ideas I think would work in the English classroom. (And, I do offer some general suggestions in my opinion for other content area courses, too.)
I’m thinking about public speaking skills, public service announcments, persuasive essays. And I’m also thinking about all of the cool ways we could incorporate technology (aka: multiliteracies/21st century learning) to these ideas (i.e. podcasts, video commercials, online polls). In other words, the possibilities are there.
Do I think mock elections and debates can be used to effectively teach civics? Absolutely. Plus, they can provide real-world connections for our students AND what a great way to collaborate with other teachers to effectively use cross-discplinary teaching to really hook our students into the lessons (aka: set curriculum standards) in a creative and engaging way.