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Vote Smart: Civics Matters Curriculum

Example Web Site and/or Technical Equipment Required

Website: http://votesmart.org/education/classroom

Website Example: http://d20b91ibeoos7k.cloudfront.net/static/pdf/K-12/talking-heads-worksheet.pdf

More Ways

Computer(s), Internet access

Activity Description

Students 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.

Preparation

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.

How-To

  1. Lead a discussion about the organization of state government to activate students' prior knowledge.
  2. Distribute the "Talking Heads Worksheet" to each student and have them complete it.
  3. Lead a discussion of their answers.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 Tips

Students should have basic computer and Web site navigation skills before conducting this activity.

More Ways

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

Levels

  • Intermediate Low
  • Intermediate High
  • Advanced

Standards

Basic Communication

  • (2.7) Understand aspects of society and culture

Basic Communication

  • (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

Basic Communication

  • (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
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OTAN activities are funded by contract CN200091-A2 from the Adult Education Office, in the Career & College Transition Division, California Department of Education, with funds provided through Federal P.L., 105-220, Section 223. However, OTAN content does not necessarily reflect the position of that department or the U.S. Department of Education.