Classroom Congress


Students will have already chosen a topic on which to write a bill (to be passed in the Classroom Congress) and will have completed the research necessary for the bill.This lesson will take the teacher through the process of writing the bill in the lab, peer editing, and amending and passing the bill through a classroom Congress.


  • Students will increase their comfort level of producing a working draft through a final draft stage in ClarisWorks.
  • Students will increase their knowledge of formal writing used in developing bills.
  • Students will peer edit each other’s work for clarity and usefulness.
  • Students will enact the passing, amending and vetoing process of taking a bill through the Committee process of Congress.


  • Formal writing skills.
  • Understand the complexity and usefulness of the Committee Process in passing legislation.
  • Be able to write a standard document on the computer.

Take students through the process of selecting the following:

  • Partners
  • Bill Topics
  • Desired Legislation
  • Research
  1. Students will use the attached file to create their formal bill.
  2. Numbers will be assigned to each pair’s bill based upon class.
  3. Overnight, the language arts teacher and the social studies teacher will scan each bill for its effectiveness and clarity.
  4. Students will peer edit drafts.
  5. Discuss with students the day before writing, the necessary structure of the bills.

On the computer - DAY ONE

  • This is a fairly straight-forward document. Students will be given specific directions on what procedures to follow regarding fonts, type size, spacing, style and overall structure.
  • This document MUST BE SAVED. It is a draft and will be amended.

Postcomputer - DAY TWO

  • Divide the class into four to six committees. Cycle another class’ bills through each committee, asking students to suggest any changes necessary in order to present a polished, complete bill which will do what its authors intended. (I find it helpful to have each committee use a different color pen.)
  • Committees may rewrite, amend, add to and subtract from each bill. Encourage students to find reasons why the bill will not work, then fix it.


  • Return the bills to the original authors.
  • Go back to the lab and rewrite each bill to include changes made by the committees.


  • At this point, I will have video-taped a portion of C-Span to show students how debates are held in Congress. Students will be familiar with the concepts of Parliamentary Procedures and the type of debates held in Congress, although they are not expected to be able to reproduce those in class.
  • Bills will now be introduced into a third classroom as either committees or as Congress. (See Day Five.)
  • The class, led by the Speaker of the House - the teacher - will hold debates and vote on each of the bills. (It would be better to have a student as Speaker of the House, but I have found it nearly impossible to find students able to function at this level unless the project is expanded to a much larger level. There are schools in which the entire 8th grade participates as a single Congress. At that point, total student participation is necessary.)


  • If possible, join all five classes into a single “Congress” to debate and vote on the few bills which now have made it out of Committee to the House level.
  • Send those bills which pass to the President for enactment into LAW. (School Principal)

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