• CCB Social Studies pages 44 - 47



  • Explain the role of political parties in US politics

  • Discuss the importance of interest groups

Key Concept

  • Political parties and interest groups play important roles in government at all levels.


Tier 2 influence
Tier 3 interest group
Test Words synthesize

Evidence-Based Reading

  • Word Analysis: In this section, students will see the abbreviation PAC, which stands for political action committee. Tell students that people often pronounce this abbreviation so that it sounds the same as the word pack. Point out that other abbreviations, like USA, are not pronounced like a word; instead, each letter is read separately: U-S-A. Have students think of other abbreviations they know. Make a list with students of abbreviations that are read like words (NATO) and ones that are spelled out (RSVP).

Writing Practice

  • Remind students to include details from the cartoon to support their interpretation of its meaning. These details will include a description of the characters, the situation, other visual clues (such as the bathmat), and the caption.

Before Lesson

Ask students what they know about the role of political parties in elections. (Students may know that in primary elections, voters vote only for candidates that are part of the political party in which they are registered. Students may also say that some local elections, unlike national and state elections, are nonpartisan.) Have students name the political parties they have heard of. (Sample answers: Democratic, Republican, Peace and Freedom, Libertarian, Green. Constitution, Socialist Party USA) Tell students that in this lesson, they will learn more about US political parties and the role of interest groups in US politics.


Ask students if they have recently heard any news about a political party or issue. Provide newspaper articles about a recent political issue if students are not aware of any. Then have students pick a news item to write about in their notebooks. They should write what they know about the issue and what they think about it. Invite volunteers to share their thoughts with the class. Point out the roles played by political parties and interest groups (such as drug companies, the National Rifle Association, or animal rights groups) in the issues they selected.

Guided Practice

  • Ideas and Influence in Politics
    • Political Parties
    • Interest Group

Core Skill

Recognize the Cartoonist’s Point of View: Refer to the cartoon on the page. Point out that the donkey represents the Democratic Party and the elephant represents the Republican Party. With both animals in it, the bathtub is full. A man (representing the third party) wants to get in the tub with them. Students should recognize that the donkey and the elephant are probably not telling the truth about the water and the soap; instead, they simply don’t want to allow a third party to join them. Invite volunteers to suggest the cartoonist’s opinion of this situation.

Synthesize Ideas from Multiple Sources: Ask students to interview three or four other students to learn their opinion on the role of political parties in the United States today. They might ask about the power of political parties in Congress or the parties’ influence on the media. Tell students to ask each person the same question or questions. Then have students write a short paragraph synthesizing the opinions their classmates expressed and drawing their own conclusion. As students begin their research on a third party, remind them not to copy wording from the sources they find. Instead, they should think about the ideas in those sources and write about them in their own words.


Getting the Joke: Explain to students that humor can be difficult to recognize and interpret in a foreign language. One reason for this is that culture often plays a large role in humor. Culture includes shared knowledge of history, current events, and even parts of language such as word play and irony. For instance, before reading this lesson, students may not have realized that the donkey symbolizes the Democratic Party and the elephant symbolizes the Republican Party. Have students look at the cartoon on page 45 and encourage them to ask questions about anything they do not understand. Ask which parts of the cartoon are familiar

Investigate and Develop a Logical Argument: Select several topics that have been in the news recently and ask students what they know about these issues. Ask students to identify interest groups that might be involved with these issues. An example is global warming; interest groups concerned with global warming include oil companies and Greenpeace. Divide students into an even number of groups. Assign one group the role of an interest group and a topic, such as oil companies and global warming. Assign the next group the same topic but a different interest group, such as Greenpeace and global warming. Continue until you have assigned each of the groups a topic and interest group. Then have each group of students investigate its topic from the perspective of its assigned interest group and develop a logical argument. Finally, have the groups that share a topic debate those issues from opposing viewpoints.

Lesson Review