Lesson Plan: The House of Representatives and the Senate


Objectives: The students will

I. review the structure and procedures of the US House of Representatives.

II. describe the structure and function of the US Senate.

III. show how the two houses of Congress are different and how they represent American democracy.

Curriculum Connection: 2.2 Differentiate between the House and the Senate in reference to length of term, qualifications, leadership, and committee organization. PS-1

Warm Up Activity (Anticipatory Set): Matching Congressional Terms

This 15-question worksheet started as three separate warm-up activities. They have been combined, but using the "copy and paste" technique, it can be divided in three separate 5-question warm-up activities. It can also be delivered as a full review worksheet.

Main Activity (Instructional Input): Group Discussion Questions

A) Assign one of the following questions to a group of students.
B) Have the students develop a one to two paragraph response and present it to the class.

1) Why are committees so important when considering how the House does its work?
2) Why is the Rules Committee such an important committee in the House?
3) Why does the majority party get the blame for everything Congress does?
4) Why is the House considered to be the most democratic body in the world?
5) How can the minority party be successful in passing legislation if it has less members than the majority?

Examples (Modeling) and Check For Understanding: : Filmstrip on the Senate

C) Have students exchange worksheets given yesterday and review answers orally.

E) Show the filmstrip on the Senate. (From Our Government in Action)

F) Have students take notes by answering the study guide questions as they watch. Review answer orally with the students when the filmstrip is complete.

Guided Practice: Analyzing the 105th and 106th Congress

A) Distribute or Display the information on page 120 of  United States Government: Democracy In Action depicting the 105th Congress.

B) Have students visit the web site at http://cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/stories/1998/11/03/election/house/roundup/
and http://cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/stories/1998/11/03/election/senate/morton.story/ to view the changes in Congress after the 1998 election.

C) Have students develop a diagram of the 106th Congress that describes the make up of the parties, men vs. women, and minorities found in the new Congress.

Wrap-Up Activity (Closure): Why be A Congressman?

A) have students answer the following question with a chart:

List the rewards and difficulties of being a Congressman?

B) Display student responses while students take notes.

Evaluation: The lesson will be evaluated by:

I. the accuracy of student's written responses;

II. student's scores on future tests and quizzes.

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