CBC Digital Archives

Lesson Plan: For Teachers: Election Night Coverage

History, Social Studies, Media Studies
4 to 5 lessons
To learn about a federal election through a dramatization of its main events.
Students will prepare and present a television news broadcast covering the leaders, parties, issues, events, and results of one federal election from Canada’s post-1945 history.

Lesson Plan

Before Exploring


Ask students to share any experiences watching election-night television coverage. Ask: What information do you think viewers want? How do you think broadcasters keep viewers interested?

Have students view segments of the daily news broadcasts on CBC that are devoted to covering political events. You can do this by assigning students to watch each night or by arranging for in-class viewing of CBC videos or Internet feeds. Have students keep a journal detailing what they watched, what they learned from it, and their impressions of the programming.

After several days, have students share their journal responses with the class as a whole.

Outline the Opportunity

Divide the class into groups, and direct them to the topic Campaigning for Canada on the CBC Digital Archives website. Each group should select one of the federal elections covered in the site, and prepare detailed notes on the following information:


Main leaders, parties, and issues in the campaign

Main events of the campaign

Results of the election

Using the researched information, each group will prepare a television documentary or news program to dramatize that election campaign. The program might contain interviews with the party leaders, candidates, or ordinary voters; reports on opinion polls taken during the campaign; a focus on the main issues and events; and an election-night broadcast of the results and their implications for Canada.

Have each group present its dramatization to the class, in chronological order of the election that each chose to research.

Revisit and Reflect

Conduct a whole-class debriefing activity. Ask students what they learned about the election campaigns they researched from the activity, and also what they learned about other campaigns from their fellow students' presentations. Have them compare and contrast the elections, in terms of parties, leaders, issues, and results. Finally, have them evaluate how successful they think each presentation was in capturing the atmosphere of the election campaign it dramatized, and how informative and interesting it was.


Students can prepare and present an oral and/or written response to the following question: What was the most significant federal election in Canadian history since 1945 and why?

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