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DLP - The U.S. Presidential Election 2012

veröffentlicht um 21.11.2012, 05:27 von Georg Haschek   [ aktualisiert: 21.11.2012, 14:19 ]

First DLP Project in 5B

Mag. Margaret Skopec, Native Speaker Teacher

From September 21 to November 7, 2012, the 5B worked on a DLP Project about the U.S. Presidential Election 2012. When we started we had almost no idea about how the election process works in America, because it is very different to the Austrian one. But with time we really got into it. We watched the news and read articles with background information. Because we were doing this project during the election campaign, we always had something new to discuss in class. Our project made it to the facebook page of the U.S. Embassy Austria (

This interdisciplinary project was not only conducted in English class with Mrs. Skopec but also in Geography (Mr. Trinbacher), History (Mr. Svoboda), Music (Mrs. Wakonig), IT (Mr. Haschek) and Maths (Mr. Kainz). During the information phase we compared government and economic policies in the USA and Austria and we learned about the U.S. Constitution and the American Dream. Mr. Haschek created a website for our class on the Intranet; we watched short videos about the history of presidential debates and selected political cartoons to analyze. The debates are a very important aspect of the electoral process because they can totally change a voter’s opinion. The candidates can show the public their character and behavior under pressure. A patriotic atmosphere was created in Music when we sang “God Bless the USA” by country singer Lee Greenwood.

All of us worked in pairs in the project, too. Ten people focused on articles containing some issue of the election. We informed the class about the main ideas, then wrote an interview on the topics such as campaign donations, outsourcing jobs to China, or how to stop illegal immigrants from crossing the Mexican border.

On October 18 visitors from the U.S. Embassy’s School Outreach Program came to our class. They told us about the differences between the political systems in the United States and Austria and explained the Electoral College System again. We heard many other interesting facts affecting how people vote, but we also asked questions, for example, why elections are always held on Tuesdays, which seems strange to us. It was a change from our normal school lessons and we enjoyed these two very informative hours a lot.

On Friday, October 19, our class organized two mock Party Conventions, where twelve other students went into action. They presented shortened versions of real speeches held by the two candidates, their wives, and other political celebrities. The students holding the speeches had watched them on YouTube to study the pronunciation and analyze the body language. In addition to all the political statements it was interesting to observe Michelle Obama and Ann Romney, wives of the Democratic and Republican candidates, talking about their husbands and families. Their main task was to emphasize the human side and convince the country how wonderful and caring their husbands are. They appealed to people’s hearts. We decorated our classroom with red and blue balloons, a fancy and patriotic lectern, posters of each party and the American flag. The students who weren’t presenting speeches pretended to be the delegates, cheering and waving homemade flags. We played energetic background music like at the real conventions.

Right before Election Day we took a close look at the latest polls. We learned in Maths class how polls are plotted and about functions. Although you shouldn’t trust polls, they do influence the voters. Some pollsters were able to predict the outcome of the election quite accurately.

It is hard to measure all we learned from this project. The presentations of our classmates on issues of the election were very informative and interesting. It was important for the project that all of our teachers spoke to us in English, although they weren’t English teachers, so we are grateful that they made that effort. It was cool. Because of the well-organized project, when we read or heard something about the election in the media we understood almost everything. Thanks to the amount of information which we picked up in various classes, the election was a lot more gripping and fascinating than it normally would have been for us. We really enjoyed this project with all the different and interesting activities.

Reporting by students of the 5B
November 2012

Selection of Political Cartoons

Cathrin Fischer

This cartoon shows an old man lifting a toddler elephant into a sandbox with a toddler donkey.

To understand this, you have to have a lot of background information. The old man is “Uncle Sam”, he represents the United States of America. The elephant portrays the Republicans and the donkey the Democrats. “Uncle Sam” is trying to unite the little Democrats and Republicans while they are little and this is the funny thing about the cartoon; the disagreement and conflicts between these two main US-parties is obvious everywhere and is at times very childish.

“Uncle Sam” as America seems to want the country not to be divided and is trying to force the big rivals to get along and “play” together, or come to agreements. It’s very clear that this is not really possible.
The two parties are represented with their (more or less official) party symbols -as usual in US political cartoons- and the particular thing is that they are toddlers, children. Children are easier to affect and more  manipulable. America is here being encouraged to try and agree on policy for the future, by placing these two dissimilar groups next to each other while they are -manipulable- children. It’s very clear that these two “children” don’t want to play -agree- with each other; they both look very grumpy about this arranged “playdate.” It reflects the feelings of the Democrats and Republicans about cooperating and working with each other. They are quite reluctant to do so.

In fact, I found this cartoon more sweet than funny at first glimpse. You really have to have the knowledge about America’s symbols and parties to understand it, but it’s very interesting with how few words or captions cartoonists can manage to convey a statement or message which the viewer understands. 

In sum, this cartoon is a nice little reflection of the relation between Democrats and Republicans on the public stage.

Philipp Gmeiner

In this picture you see Bill Clinton and Mitt Romney in a debate. Romney is wearing a red tie, which represent the Republicans and Clinton is wearing a blue one, which represents the Democrats. Both of them have unrealistic proportions: Romney’s face is too slim and in contrast to him Clinton has a very big face and a huge nose. But I think  these unrealistic proportions make the cartoon much funnier. The joke is that instead of Barack Obama, who actually should be standing behind the podium, Bill Clinton is standing there. So, why is he standing there? I think it’s because of Obama’s poor first debate performance where Romney trounced him. And you see a box in the top left corner which says that Obama has secret plans for the next debate, and these secret plans are that Clinton should stand in for him. It is common knowledge that Clinton gave an excellent speech at the Democratic National Convention in September and is generally an excellent and persuasive speaker. The Democrats need him as a secret weapon to improve the polls since the first debate disaster.

Mai Linh Rossacher

This cartoon came out on September 17, 2012, this means before the first presidential debate. In this cartoon you can see President Obama pulling a wheelbarrow, with a sign saying “Economy” on it, up a hill while a very big elephant in a pin-striped suit is lying in it. He is holding a sign which says, “It’s Obama’s Fault”. The elephant looks very self-satisfied. All the while Obama is trying to steadily pull the wheelbarrow, but it’s very difficult because the elephant is dragging his large feet on the ground. The elephant symbolizes the Republicans, because it’s their usual mascot. Before Barack Obama became President, George W. Bush, who is a Republican, was President for eight years. While Bush was President, economic policy started to fail and then got worse, but Bush didn’t stop that process. So when Obama became President of the United States, all of that was suddenly Obama’s fault and he had to carry Bush’s burden. Now Romney blames Obama for not improving the economy, but Obama has only been President for four years. At the time when George W. Bush was President the economy had eight years for the banking crisis to develop. It takes time until the economy will get better again and Obama has tried, but he needs more time to repair what he inherited from the eight years of George W. Bush.