Lesson Plan: The Roles of Congressional Leadership Positions

The Significance of Congressional Leaders

Catholic University politics professor Matthew Green discussed the significance of leadership positions on legislation.

Description

In both the House of Representatives and the Senate, leadership positions are elected by each chamber and by the individual political parties. Leaders in these positions perform various roles in the legislative process and in their political party. This lesson explores the significance of these positions and focuses on the major leadership positions in the majority and minority parties. Students will learn about these positions, research the current leaders and provide videos examples of how they fulfill the responsibilities of the position. This lesson works best with classes with one-to-one devices or can be adapted to a flipped classroom.

Procedures

  • WARM-UP:

    To begin class, have the students respond to the following question:

    • How do you think political parties in Congress ensure that party members work together?
  • INTRODUCTION:

    After discussing the warm-up questions with the class, show the following two videos and have the students answer each questions associated with the clip.

    VIDEO CLIP 1: The Significance of Congressional Leaders (1:12)

    • Explain the general roles that Congressional leaders play and their impact on legislation.

    VIDEO CLIP 2: Factors Influencing Congressional Leadership Elections (4:29)

    • Why are party leadership positions important to Congress members from that party?
    • What ways can members of Congress develop professional connections to help them get elected to leadership committees?
    • How do lawmakers' personal goals and objectives influence their vote in congressional leadership elections?
    • What are common goals that members of Congress want to achieve? How can these goals influence party leadership elections?
    • How can party leaders help individual members of Congress?
  • EXPLORATION:

    Review the students' responses to the video questions. Address any misconceptions about the general roles and purposes of party leadership in Congress.

    Either individually or in a jigsaw activity, have the students watch each of the videos relating to the roles of the different leadership positions. Using the chart on the following handout have the students answer the questions listed below:

    HANDOUT: Congressional Leadership Roles (Google Doc)

    • What are the goals and responsibilities of this position?

    • Explain the history of this position or any examples of these responsibilities.
  • EXPLORATION VIDEOS:

  • APPLICATION:

    After reviewing each position and reviewing the information from students, assign a leadership position to each student. Using the C-SPAN Video Library have the student research their assigned leadership position. They should identify the person holding that position, provide a clip of that person speaking and explain how this clip illustrates the role and responsibilities of this position. Students should be prepared to share who their leader is and present their short clip and information to the class.

    Students can learn how to clip C-SPAN videos using the following handout:

  • CONCLUSION:

    Either through a class discussion or a written response, have the students address the following prompt:

    • Using examples from the video clips and your research, how do political parties use congressional leadership positions to accomplish their legislative and political goals?
  • EXTENSION ACTIVITIES:

    Research a Speaker of the House- Using the U.S. House of Representatives website choose a Speaker of the House and research that person. In a written summary, provide the following information:

    • Political Party
    • Years as Speaker
    • State
    • Significant events or legislative occurring during his/her time as Speaker

    Additional Prompts:

    • How would you reorganize the current structure of congressional leadership positions to improve how Congress operates?

    • In your opinion, would the framers of the Constitution approve of the current structure of congressional leadership positions?

    • Do the Speaker of the House and Senate Majority Leader have too much power?

    • Are there any leadership positions that you feel are unnecessary?

Additional Resources

Vocabulary

  • Capitol Hill
  • Chamber
  • Committee Chair
  • Congress
  • Constitution
  • Democrat
  • House Of Representatives
  • Legislative Agenda
  • Majority Leader
  • Majority Party
  • Minority Leader
  • President Of The Senate
  • President Pro Tempore Of The Senate
  • Presiding Officer
  • Republican
  • Senate
  • Seniority
  • Speaker Of The House
  • Spokesperson
  • Succession
  • Whip

Topics

Legislative BranchPolitical Parties

Grades

Middle SchoolHigh SchoolUniversity