Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Interactive Activities About US Government

The Center on Congress at Indiana University has a good collection of interactive, role-playing activities for learning about how the United States' government functions. Each activity allows students to experience the roles and functions of different members of Congress.

One of the activities that my Civics students have really enjoyed in the past is the "How a Member Decides to Vote" activity. In "How a Member Decides to Vote" students take on the role of a Congressman or Congresswoman for a week. During the simulated week, students receive phone calls from constituents, read newspaper headlines, meet with constituents, meet with lobbyists, and attend meetings with other Congressmen and Congresswomen. The "How a Member Decides to Vote" activity makes students account for their personal feelings as well as the influence of constituents and lobbyists.

Applications for Education
I've used many of these activities over the last few years with my Civics students and my US History students. In all there are eleven interactive activities through which students can learn about the functions of Congress. All of the interactive activities are written in a way that makes them accessible and useful for students in grades 3 through 12. Each activity is accompanied by a set of lesson plan options for categorized by grade level. The lesson plans accompanying each activity provide convenient assessment tools for teachers. Each lesson plan also suggests some "offline" activities that teachers and students can do related to the online activity.