Lesson Plan: Choice Board - Researching Your US Senators

All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

Representative King discussed Article I, Section I of the U.S. Constitution.

Description

The U.S. Constitution established the two bodies that comprise the U.S. Congress: The House of Representatives and the Senate. With candidates competing for seats in each chamber every election cycle, this lesson provides students with the opportunity to explore their members of the U.S. Senate and how they represent their constituents as a fundamental part of civic literacy.

Procedures

  • SET-UP:

    This lesson offers several options for you to use with your students whether you are teaching in class, using a hybrid model, or engaging through distance learning. It can be completed in steps as a class or students can move at their own pace and complete the activities independently.

    You can post links to the videos in the lesson along with the related handouts and engage in discussion to share responses on a discussion board or learning management system.

    You can also save and share the following Google resources that provide choices for students to research their members of Congress.

    U.S. Senator's Résumé (Google Docs)

    Researching U.S. Senators (Google Docs)

    Choice Board: Researching Your Members of Congress (Google Slides)

    In Google, choose "File" then "Make a Copy" to get your own copy. You can make any needed adjustments in the instructions such as which activities students need to complete, when it is due, etc. and then make it available to them via Google.

  • WARM-UP:

    Select vocabulary terms from the list that you will need to review with your students. Have students look up the definitions and discuss the meanings as a class.

    To activate prior knowledge, ask students share their thoughts in class discussion either in person or through a chat feature on the following questions:

    What two chambers comprise the legislative body?

    How many senators does each state have?

    How many years are in a senator's term?

    What is the role of the legislative body?

    Explain that through these activities, students will be discovering who their senators are and how they serve their constituents.

  • INTRODUCTION:

    Have students view the video clips below and the answer the questions that follow.

    VIDEO CLIPS 1 &2: Congressional Powers and the Constitution

    Explain the founders' intent on establishing a Congress as Rep. King discusses.

    Where in the Constitution does it provide for a Congress?

    Explain Rep. Barr's statements on the powers of the legislative branch.

  • EXPLORATION:

    Student should view the following video clips and respond to the accompanying questions.

    VIDEO CLIP 3: The Role of the Senate

    What is meant by the Senate being described as a “cooling saucer?”

    Why was the Senate intentionally created to be slow?

    What unique powers does the Senate have?

    Describe the differences between the requirements for the House and the Senate. Why did the founders include these differences in the Constitution?

  • Who Are Your U.S. Senators?

    Students can learn about their state’s senators, by clicking here: C-SPAN's Congressional Chronicle – Senate

    From the drop-down arrow, they select their state to view their state’s senators and respond to the following questions:

    Provide the political party for each senator.

    Consider the political party representation, how could that impact policy decisions that are made in your state?

    Next, students select the senator they would like to research and click on the name, then click the “Official Bio” link under the photo and provide the information below:

    Name

    State

    Title (if indicated)

    Party

    Years in Congress

    Work Experience: Company, Dates of Employment, Job, Title (if indicated)

    Education: School, Year Graduated, Degree

    Any additional Information about the person

  • Evaluate Twitter Feed:

    Students can click on the Twitter link beneath the person's photo if it is available, then provide the following information:

    • Number of People Following

    • Number of Followers

    Have them evaluate tweets in this person’s feed. Some ideas to consider are: what is this person doing in the state or DC, which issues are being discussed, what position does this person take, explain why they agree/disagree with the content, how would they respond

  • On Which Committees Does Your Senator Serve?

    On your senator’s page, scroll down to the “Committees” section. Respond to the questions below:

    Choose one committee to explore. Click here: Senate Committees to learn about that committee, then go to the “About” page and read about it.

    What is the purpose of this committee?

    Explain how these committees relate to the senator’s experience or background.

  • Votes:

    On their senator’s page, students scroll down to the “Votes” section and provide the following information:

    Voting Record

    Recorded Votes

    Missed Votes

    Votes Against the Majority

    Party Line Votes

    Featured Votes

    Based on the data, students should explain their senator's voting record as it relates to their political party.

  • Floor Appearances and Bills:

    On their senator’s page, students scroll down to the related sections below and provide the following information.

    Days on the Floor

    Total Time Speaking

    Bills Sponsored

    Bills Passed

    Bills Failed

    Amendments

    Co-Sponsored Bills

    Students should click on several of the blue text links in the “Bills” section on the page to view the bills their senator has supported and explain some of the issues that are reflected in the bills.

  • EVALUATION:

    Students should review the data they have collected and respond to the following question:

    Is there a relationship among the various committees on which the individual serves, the voting record, bills and person’s experience and background? Explain your reasoning.

    Have students compare their research on different senators.

  • ACTIVITY:

    It’s Election Day! Would you vote for your senator? Explain your position based on your research.

Additional Resource

Vocabulary

  • Checks And Balances
  • Congressional Bill
  • Constituent
  • Majority
  • Political Party
  • Ratify
  • Republic
  • Virtues

Topics

Constitutional FoundationLegislative Branch

Grades

Middle SchoolHigh SchoolUniversity