Unit and lesson plans prepared by teachers using CongressLink resources and features.
and Balances: The Line Item Veto
In this lesson, students perform a series of activities culminating in a persuasive letter to their Congress Member. Citing evidence from primary sources, students construct a position on the Line-Item Veto Amendment. Students will demonstrate their knowledge, understanding, and mastery of the concepts of checks and balances in their letter.
Congress and Interest Groups
After completing this assignment, students will better understand congressional committees and interest groups. They will learn to assess the significance of the donations to committee members, consider from whom they have come, and how the donations might impact the committee vote on legislation. Students will also learn how interest groups seek to influence politicians.
Congressional Committee Simulation: Raising the Minimum Wage
This classroom simulation of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce allows students to understand the procedures and political process of committee action on a bill. Students play the roles of Republican and Democratic committee members with four different views on raising the minimum wage. After hearing arguments of opposing interest groups in a committee hearing, committee members attempt to forge a bipartisan majority through political bargaining and compromise on a bill to increase the minimum wage.
NOTE:& This lesson was prepared in April 2008 when the minimum wage was $5.85 and set to increase to $6.55 on July 24. Congress has already passed legislation that will increase the minimum wage further on July 24, 2009, to $7.25. Teachers may want to introduce this lesson by saying that Congress often begins to deal with legislative issues well in advance—in other words, committees could begin taking testimony now on what the wage should be after 2009.
This lesson employs various measures of House and Senate productivity since 1947 so that students will know how legislative work is measured and evaluated.
Creating a Television Ad for an Interest Group
In this lesson, students examine propaganda and media bias and explore the ways interest groups get their message across through the use of media campaigns. Following the development of their own interest group, students develop an advertising campaign which includes the development of a radio and television commercial.
of a Bill: Mr. Smith and You
In this lesson, students view an excerpt of the classic film "Mr. Smith goes to Washington" to learn how a bill is created and presented in Congress. Students then work in groups to develop and present their own bills to the class.
Economy Act of 1933
This lesson will introduce students to the process by which a Congress member evaluates a bill. It will provide an historical example of how a Congress member decides to vote on a bill and will illustrate by way of historical example how a Congress member justifies a vote.
Floor Debate Simulation
This unit will help teachers create a simulation of the U.S. House of Representatives floor debate process that can be adapted for use in a variety of middle school, high school, and college classrooms. In general, the simulation seeks to teach lessons about the various issues that factor in to the decision-making process of a member of Congress. Some of the issues woven into the simulation include parliamentary rules and procedures, the role of constituents, competing demands for time, competing policy interests, the role of the press, and political concerns and institutional concerns. The materials include four different established scenarios as well as resources to create a more customized case-study. The explanation and simulation would likely take place over two class periods.
Bill Becomes a Law: Charting the Path
In this lesson, students learn the steps of a bill becoming a law and use this information to write a story about "the life of a bill." Students then evaluate the effectiveness of our system of creating laws.
Identifying Legislators and the Legislative Process
The legislative branch of the federal government has a rich and eventful history. Political observers have long expressed an interest in analyzing the legislation our senators and representatives sponsor and the impact the bills have on our lives if they become law. Examining the structure, function, and output of the legislative branch produces a greater understanding of United States culture and its diverse geography and populations. This lesson is designed stresses the importance of the ability to infer and identify relationships between actions and activities using a thesis statement and supporting details.
"Iron Triangles" helps students understand how issue networks are formed at the federal level.
This is a simulation about the legislative process of logrolling. This simulation could be used as a sidelight to the lawmaking process, the committee system, or as an exercise to demonstrate a reason for client politics with concentrated benefits and distributed costs. After completing this simulation, students will have a more complete understanding of the process of logrolling, how it occurs, and what are the consequences.
Congress Work Through Leadership
Making Congress Work Through Leadership is based on statements by former House Republican Leader Robert H. Michel drawn from the archival holdings of The Dirksen Congressional Center about the nature of leading in Congress. The general purpose of this unit is to introduce students to the contrasting leadership styles practiced by different elected party leaders in Congress. This will help them understand such concepts as majority and minority roles in legislatures; the nature of deliberation, negotiation, and compromise; the context that shapes legislative leadership; and, the work of Congress more generally.
Mock Senate Simulation
This lesson will provide students with an opportunity to research a particular senator and write a bill. They also will select party leaders and learn to strategize in a party caucus. Students will work in a committee, practice reciprocity, and conduct mark-up negotiations. They will learn the basics of parliamentary procedure and special Senate rules. Legislative lingo will also be introduced. Students will participate in a mock Senate activity where they will assume the identity of their researched senator and use persuasive skills to pass their bill. They will also formally oppose one bill during floor debate. Finally, they will participate in one filibuster, invoke cloture, and attempt a discharge petition.
This is a very useful lesson plan when discussing the process of creating laws. It is also a way to help make students aware of current situations in American government. While it does not cover all aspects of creating laws, it is a great way for students to have a definite opinion about a current political issue, which helps in discussing policy standards of presidential candidates.
Simulating Congressional Action in the Classroom
After completing this lesson, students will have a practical understanding of the congressional system of committees and floor action. Students also will have engaged directly in informal negotiations with fellow student-legislators in order to get legislation passed.
Standing Committee Chest: Understanding the Standing Committees of Congress
This lesson will address the role of standing committees in Congress. Students will learn how to depict the standing committees in Congress kinesthetically and visually. They will be able to explain why each committee is important to Congress and analyze the difference between standing and select committees.
of the Union Address
In this unit, students will about the nature and purpose of the President's State of the Union message. Using George Washington's first message and Bill Clinton's most recent, the unit shows how the State of the Union message involves Congress.
The Veto Process
Students will be able to (1) summarize the veto and override process as outlined in the U.S. Constitution and used by the executive and legislative branches; (2) research and graph the correlation among the political control of the respective branches, bills introduced, and the number of vetoes and overrides.
In this lesson, students examine different images of the Senate and House Chambers to draw conclusions about Congress. They "paint" a blank template of a Congressional Chamber with words describing the conclusions they have reached.