Showing posts with label Congress. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Congress. Show all posts

Monday, October 30, 2017

Library of Congress Congressional Data Challenge

The National Data Challenge from the Library of Congress is a competition that is asking "citizen coders" to develop creative ways to use technology to analyze, visualize, and interpret data sets from congress.gov as well as other platforms. The idea is to create a product that helps others discover, use, and explore the massive collection of legislative information that is available from the Library. 

Some examples of what the staff at the Library of Congress envision include:

  • A visualization of how the legislative process works. 
  • Tools that could be embedded on Congressional websites. 
  • A tool that will allow members of congress to be matched with other members who have similar legislative interests. 
 The Library of Congress will award $5000 to the first prize winner and $1000 for the best high school project.  Submissions must be received by April 2, 2018 and include a 2-minute video. 

Applications for Education
This could be a project that students could work on for a coding class or after school coding club. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Learn About Congress While Learning to Identify Primary Sources

The Center on Congress at Indiana University has produced some excellent resources over the years. I started using some of their interactive learning modules six or seven years ago. This morning I spent some time trying out one of their iPad apps called Congressional Moments. After using the iPad app I discovered that it is also available as a web app.

Congressional Moments is designed to help students learn about key legislative activities that still affect our lives today. The app includes videos about six important areas. Those areas are the National Parks Service, Civil Rights, Child Labor, the Marshall Plan, and the Securities and Exchange Commission. The videos are a nice part of the site, but my favorite aspects of the site are the sections designed to help students learn to distinguish the difference between primary and secondary sources.

Three sections of Congressional Moments are designed to teach students the differences between primary and secondary sources and their roles in the research process. The "explore primary sources" section shows students a resource and asks them to choose if that source is a primary source or not. Students receive instant feedback with explanations of the correct answers. In "hear from the experts" students can watch a series of videos featuring two scholars explaining how to identify and use primary sources in research. The primary sources gallery in Congressional Moments features photos, drawing, letters, and maps arranged according to the themes included in the videos on the site.

Applications for Education
The "think about it" section of the Congressional Moments asks students to use the information they read and watched in the previous parts of the app. The "think about it" section contains questions that teachers can use as the basis for lessons on the Congressional activities featured throughout the site.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Legislative Explorer - An Interactive Visual of Legislative Actions

Legislative Explorer is a an interactive visualization developed by the University of Washington's Center for American Politics and Public Policy. Through the Legislative Explorer you can see the process of a bill passing through Congress and on to the President. The process is animated with data point dots that move through the visualization. The dots stop at each stop of the process and move forward or backward in relation to the actual movement the bill went through in Congress.

The Legislative Explorer contains data beginning with the 93rd Congress (1973- 1974) and runs through the 113th Congress (2013-2014). From the menus at the top of the Legislative Explorer you can select a Congress, a senator or representative, a political party, or a legislative topic. If you know the name of a piece of legislation or a bill's number you can search for it in the "more" menu at the top of the Legislative Explorer.

The video below provides a nice overview of how the Legislative Explorer works.


Applications for Education
The Legislative Explorer could be a good resource to use in a U.S. Civics or in a U.S. History course to help students see the difference between the number of bills proposed and the number of laws that are actually passed by Congress. The Legislative Explorer could also be good for students to use to explore the relationship between the majority party in Congress and the type of legislation that gets enacted during that Congress.

H/T to Cool Infographics

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Videos for Learning About Congress

Yesterday, my post about 47 Alternatives to YouTube started with the statement that some excellent educational content can be found on YouTube. And right on que, this morning I discovered that the Center on Congress at Indiana University has a YouTube channel containing 25 short educational videos. The videos cover topics like Federalism, Checks & Balances, and the legislative process. The video below contains a short lesson on how a bill becomes law.

Applications for Education
I plan to use a couple of the clips from the Center on Congress at Indiana University with my Civics students as quick review items.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:

Monday, November 23, 2009

CNN Student News - The Health Care Debate

If your students are anything like most Americans, they probably have plenty of questions and confusion about the on-going health care reform debate in Congress. Today's episode of CNN Student News tries to offer students some clarity about the debate. CNN's discussion guide could be helpful with this episode. The episode is embedded below.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Congress for Kids at the Dirksen Center

Earlier today my department head, one of the nicest technophobes I know, forwarded to me an email about the Dirksen Congressional Center. The Dirksen Center offers students a number of online activities and resources for learning about the functions of US government. Congress for Kids is a part of the Dirksen Center's suite of online resources. On Congress for Kids students can take a tour of the federal government then test their knowledge in online quizzes.

The Dirksen Center's Editorial Cartoon Collection offers sixty editorial cartoons and eighteen lesson plans based on editorial cartoons. The Dirksen Center also hosts a half-dozen webquests designed for middle school and high school use.

Applications for Education
The Dirksen Congressional Center's activities and lesson plans seem to be best suited for middle school and high school use.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Capitol Words - Just What is Congress Saying?

Capitol Words is an interesting way to look at what your Senators and Representatives are saying in Washington. Capital Words creates "word clouds" based on key words used most often in Congress. The words in each cloud are pulled from the Congressional record. There is a national word cloud as well as word clouds for each state.

Applications for Education
Capital Words could be a good way for students to see which topics are most frequently discussed in Congress. Students can track how the word clouds change from week to week or month to month. Another activity using Capital Words would be to have students compare the word clouds of their own state with those of other states. As a continuation of the comparison, students could research and investigate the reasons for the differences between the word clouds of each state.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Get Students Involved in Government Through Twitter

One of the great things about living in this digitally connected age is that information and news is so readily available. The Internet also makes it much easier and faster to communicate with just about anyone. (See old high school friends connecting through Facebook after 20 years for an example). Combine the ease of information finding with the ease of communication and it was only a matter of time before Tweet Congress was developed.

Tweet Congress is a registry of members of the US Congress that are on Twitter. Whether or not it's the actual Congressman/ woman or their PR office that uses the account is debatable, but none-the-less Tweet Congress makes government more accessible to the citizenry. If you're not sure who your representative is, enter your zip code in the finder and Tweet Congress will tell you.




Not to leave out my friends in the UK, Tweet Minister is the UK version of Tweet Congress.

Applications for Education
Tweet Congress and Tweet Minister could be engaging tools for your students to use to track what their representatives in government are saying. Depending on how responsive your representative (or their office staff) is, both services could be used by students to ask questions of their representatives.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Activities for Learning About US Government Decision Making

Sometimes the most obvious solutions are overlooked. Last week a colleague asked me if I knew of any simple online activities for teaching US Government to elementary school students. I told her about the Center on Congress at Indian University which is a great resource, but I forgot to mention Kids in the House from the Office of the Clerk in Washington, D.C.

Kids in the House provides great games and activities for elementary and middle school students to learn about the functions of the House of Representatives. Students can play games or go on short virtual field trips through the Kids in the House website. Kids in the House hosts a nice glossary of terms that students can use to find the definitions of vocabulary terms they discover in their activities on the website.

Applications for Education
Kids in the House could be used for students to do some independent learning because the glossary provides students with the definitions for terms that may be new to them. For teachers looking for activities that they can do with the whole class at once, Kids in the House provides a set of lesson plans with printable worksheets and information recording forms to accompany various activities on the website. Kids in the House also provides a downloadable activity booklet that teachers can give to their students.

In addition to games and interactive activities, Kids in the House provides diagrams and charts that students can explore to learn about the functions of the House of Representatives. The How Laws are Made section of Kids in the House is designed for younger students, but could still be useful for high school students.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Interactive Activities for Learning About U.S. Government

The Center on Congress at Indiana University has built 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
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.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Free Technology For Teachers: Fantasy Congress

Fantasy Congress works like any fantasy sport. Participants draft players, in this case members of Congress, and earn points based on the performance of their draftees.

Applications for Educators
Fantasy Congress is a great activity for a middle school or high school civics course. Students will have vested interest in following Congressional actions as they actions of their draftees will impact their total score. With Fantasy Congress students learn by playing the game instead of just reading the rules of the game.

Here is a video introduction to Fantasy Congress.