E-Congress is an activity that lets kids dive deep into the history and work of the United States Congress and then simulate the same work by proposing legislation and deliberating. Students participate as a class, and you can choose to join the national E-Congress activity (more than 5,200 students participated in 2014!) or run the activity in your own classroom. There's a lot of dry reading before kids get to jump into the activities, but the chance to collaborate with kids across the country will appeal to students and help motivate them to soldier through. Plus, these readings and the accompanying activities are solid. Students move from an introduction to researching their bills to writing to deliberating in committee. Through each step, students can gain key insights about the legislative process and apply what they've learned through group activities. There are tons of ways for students to contribute, from researching and writing to presenting, and kids are sure to get at least a little inspired by activities that are all about improving their country.
First, choose which version of the project is right for you. If you plan to have your students participate in the national E-Congress activity, plan ahead accordingly so you'll be prepared to join the fun in January. If you plan to fly solo, use the site's guidance to plan that for your own classroom. Either way, consider how to structure these activities in your classroom and what technology (digital or analog) you'll use to keep kids on track. There's a wealth of information here for helping you introduce your students to the history and function of the U.S. Congress; choose which format or activities will work best to help your students get oriented to the project before they dive in to creating and debating legislation.Continue reading Show less
Key Standards Supported
Reading History/Social Studies
Identify key steps in a text’s description of a process related to history/social studies (e.g., how a bill becomes law, how interest rates are raised or lowered).
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.
Describe how a text presents information (e.g., sequentially, comparatively, causally).
Identify aspects of a text that reveal an author’s point of view or purpose (e.g., loaded language, inclusion or avoidance of particular facts).
Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them.
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social science.
Analyze how a text uses structure to emphasize key points or advance an explanation or analysis.
Compare the point of view of two or more authors for how they treat the same or similar topics, including which details they include and emphasize in their respective accounts.
Evaluate various explanations for actions or events and determine which explanation best accords with textual evidence, acknowledging where the text leaves matters uncertain.
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including analyzing how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term over the course of a text (e.g., how Madison defines faction in Federalist No. 10).
Analyze in detail how a complex primary source is structured, including how key sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text contribute to the whole.
Evaluate authors’ differing points of view on the same historical event or issue by assessing the authors’ claims, reasoning, and evidence.
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