Vote Smart: Civics Matters Curriculum
Example Web Site and/or Technical Equipment Required
Computer(s), Internet access
Activity DescriptionStudents learn about the legislative branch of government in this activity. They learn the number of the House and Senate district where they live, the names of the senator and representative who represent their district, the votes of a senator or representative on current issues in the state legislature, and become familiar with the Vote Smart Web Site and how it can be used to obtain information.
Students should understand the basic organization and responsibilities of state and local government and should have already completed the "Introduction to the Web site Lesson & Worksheet" for Grades 5-8.
Download, review, and print a copy for each student of the "Talking Heads Lesson & Worksheet" from the Web Site Example above. Make sure you have red and blue colored markers for each student.
- Lead a discussion about the organization of state government to activate students' prior knowledge.
- Distribute the "Talking Heads Worksheet" to each student and have them complete it.
- Lead a discussion of their answers.
- Have students use the red colored markers to indicate the issue(s) about which the representative and the senator appear to hold the same opinion and blue colored markers to indicate the issue(s) about which they personally feel very strongly.
- Have students write a letter to either their senator or representative to express their own opinion or ask for help with a current issue.
Teacher TipsStudents should have basic computer and Web site navigation skills before conducting this activity.
This site offers excellent lesson plans and materials on a variety of topics for Web-based inquiry of the Vote Smart Web site. Lessons include:
- Contacting a State Official
- State Governor
- Talking Heads
- Voter Registration
- Meet Your Senators
- Campaign Finance
- Follow the Money Trail
- Special Interest Groups
- Values and Legislation
- Intermediate Low
- Intermediate High
- (2.7) Understand aspects of society and culture
- (5.6) Understand civic responsibilities and activities
- (5.2) Understand historical and geographical information
- (5.5) Understand the functions of government
- (5.1) Understand voting and the political process
- (7.2) Demonstrate ability to use critical thinking skills
- (7.3) Demonstrate ability to use problem-solving skills
- (7.7) Demonstrate the ability to use information and communication technology
- (7.6) Demonstrate the ability to view the media critically