There are many projects that pertain to K-12. Some good some bad, but nevertheless a leaning experience for all. One of these projects was created to show students how to create a bill, introduce it to the Congress or the Senate and how that bill becomes law, or does not become law. Along with this lesson came the process of committee meetings, special interest groups, along with sponsors of the bill, and the promoting of the bill.
The idea was to take a group of students and create a Senate and Congress. This was done using a group of 6th graders as there were two groups of 22 students in different classes it would seem to be an ideal way of intergrating technology into the curriculum using technology to reserach the procedure. The using that information to create rough drafts of a bill that would be introduced to both houses for approval or dis-approval. Groups were created as committees, and a vote on the speaker of the house and the leader of the senate were elected by the students as they protrayed their parts in either the house or senate. The students were given a list of topics they could use to create or write a bill. After creating a rough draft of the bill they were given the opportunity to propose the bill to either house or senate depending on what group of reps they were. The idea was to allow them to refine the writing of the bill and to chose a sponsor or sponsors of the bill.
The interesting thing about this lesson was that all the 6th graders were involved in this project with enthusiam. They were having the time of their life with this lesson. They were so involved that when the bell would ring at the end of each class time the students were still invovled so much they did not even hear the bell ring. they had to be told to leave the room to make room for the next class to come in. This is the kind of lesson every teacher dreams of one that teaches, one that involves, and one that has meaning to the students when its complete. This particular lesson or project had all of that and more.
After the bills were chosen they went through the procedure of proposing such to the appropriate house. After much discussion and arguing two of the three bills proposed in the Senate made out to Congress or house of represenative. Of course it went through committee several times for revision, and voted upon, and finally sent to the next house for approval or denial. Again the bills sent to the next house and went through committee again and passed with some great discussion and argument and finally sent back for final review of the orginating house. At the same time the other house was also working on their bills going through the same process as the other. After much discussion and argument, and revision both houses sent three bills each through the system. As 6th graders will do they only created a bill that would benefit them, and with some revisions on the part of the teacher three bills out of the six were produced by students or congressman and senators.
The principal was asked to play the part of the president and the bills were sent up for approval of veto. The veto process was one of the finer points of the project as the principal played the part of the president very well, and using the power of veto line vetoed two of the bills, and vetoed one of them. This gave students the opportunity to see how the veto process works and was given the opporunity to revise the two bills that were line vetoed. The vetoed bill gave the students the opportunity to overide it by majority vote. Being 6th graders they decided to just vote on the vetoed bill without revising it and they voted to approve. However this being a school that part was not approved by the principal and that bill ended up dying. The other two bills were revised, voted upon again by both houses, and again sent to the Principal/President for signature this time it was approved with conditions.
The students had managed to create a bill that would allow them to open a school store in the morning hours of school, to be operated by only 5th and 6th grade students. This store would carry healthy foods, and school supplies. The idea was that the students were to take care of all the transactions, count the money at the close of each day the store was open, and turn the money over to the advisor. The other condition of this store was that the advisor would be there while the store was open and until it was closed to keep students honest.
The other bill that became law was a Fun Night for grades 4-6, and later revised to include all students, as long as volunteers were found to help with the fun night. The idea was for 6th grade to organize and operate the fun night on thier own using parent volunteer, and teacher volunteers as chaperones. They were to get the volunteers on their own and create all games to be played or other activities and operate all using their own man power.
This group of students both 5th and 6th graders learned the incidentals of operating a business, keeping the books using a spread sheet and keeping track of inventory. They also learned how to organize an event, and operate that event. On top of all of that they learned social skills by contacting parents and teachers to help out with the fun night, and how to relate to the younger students.
The best thing that happened for not just the students but for the entire school district was the fact that the school was visited by a US Congress Woman. This person came down to talk to these students about their adventure, and to answwer any of their questions, and to tell them how proud she was that they completed the task and actually created something real that meant so much to them. She congradulated them signed autographs and spent over an hour talking with these young people. It was the most meaniful project done all year.