Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Bill Becomes Law...Maybe??

There are always lessons, activities, and projects that I get so excited to do in class I can hardly sit still.  Today is one of those days.

This activity hits all the major bullet points of a successful lesson.

  • Application of knowledge learned
  • Active involvement of students
  • Validity in what they are creating.
  • Student-Centered class environment
  • Differentiated grouping.
Today's lesson is titled "How a Bill Becomes a Law - Classroom Rules"

First thing:  We quickly review the (basic) process of how a bill becomes a law by listing out the steps and watching the catchy video "I'm just a Bill" from School House Rock.

Activity Set-Up:
  1. Students are divided into a House of Representatives (large group) and a Senate (small group) **here is the differentiated grouping** My quieter kids who will get "talked over" in a large group setting are all grouped together as the Senate.  I want my House of Representatives to be filled with my more active, loud, and "bossy" students. 
  2. Each group is given a list of 10 classroom rules created by the teacher.  These are created with a "tough teacher" stance.  Little room for students to error and be human.  Some examples are...
  • The end of each Unit of study will have BOTH a written test AND group project.
  • Late work will result in assigning detention after school for 30 minutes.  Extracurricular activities will NOT take precedent over the detention!
  • All assigned essays must be typed on the iPad and submitted by email to Mrs. Weber by midnight of the due date.  
  • No name papers will receive a 0 score no matter how big the assignment is.
Activity Procedure:
  • Senate and House of Reps separate and work to change each rule into something that is fair to them, but what they would believe is acceptable to the teacher (who is playing the President).
House of Representatives debates what "laws" to make in the classroom.

Senate discusses the laws they would like to see in the classroom.
  • Each house must keep 10 rules and each rule must stick with the same "theme."  EX: the rule on detention still has to be about detention.
  • Once each group is done we call a "Joint Session of Congress" and each house presents their version of new rules.
Congress works to try and negotiate and compromise to come to a majority vote on one bill to present to the President.
  • Congress works together to create one final bill to vote on and present to the President.
  • President the power of VETO (shocker!!)
  • Congress has the chance to override the veto with a 2/3 vote.
Here's the key to making this lesson really work.  

I am prepared to accept the student rules as "law of the classroom" if they complete the entire process within one class period (I have 75 minute blocks).  Otherwise they force a "classroom shutdown" and I decide on all the rules for the class.  This provides validity.  They will have to live by the "rules" they create.

Kids love this.  They get to debate, argue, and have a say in what goes on inside my room.  Some students left the room still arguing about the "fairness" or rules they accepted.

So fun!

**I have 3 different sections of 8th grade American History.  If all 3 classes are successful in completing the process, I will take the best rule from each group to make a combined list of classroom rules.  This way each class feel like they have a say in what policies we put in place.**

Click HERE to see the Laws of the Classroom this group created

1 comment:

  1. Your House of Reps sounds very much like the actual House - loud, and "bossy" students. Where does the rich corporations fit into your lesson? ;-)

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