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Lesson Idea: Researching Your Members of Congress - Who They Are (Common Core Aligned)


A hallmark of democracy is that the people have a say in their government.  In the United States, this happens by voting elected officials into office to make decisions for us at the federal level. The United States Constitution gives minimal requirements for the elected offices of the Senator or Representative and Congress, but throughout the years, unwritten qualifications have been established.  What are the similar qualifications of the officials that we elect and what are the differences?  This student centered activity requires learners to investigate the background, work experience and views of their elected officials using multi-media sites and digital media from C-SPAN’s video library.
Flexible: 1-3 days
Background Information (Suggested Activities):
Common Core Assignment (COMMON CORE STANDARDS)
1.      Hand out the instruction sheet,  “Senator or Representative Resume
2.      Assign students or groups of students their state senators or their local representative.  
3.      Students fill out Part I on the handout “Senator or Representative Resume”.
4.      A résumé lists general background and work experiences.  However, it doesn’t show the personality and views of the person.  In Part II on the Senator or Representative Resume handout, students will use digital programming from the C-SPAN Video Library to create a clip of the current Senator or Representative that highlights his/her character traits/personality, and views.
5.       Students will analyze the clip and answer the Common Core questions on Part II of the Senator or Representative Resumehandout.
6.      Students present their clip to class individually or as a group
7.      Class discusses the qualifications and characteristics of the Senator or Representative and takes notes on handout “Congressional Qualifications & Characteristics- Note-Taking”
Wrap Up/Assessment (Suggested Activities)
  • Quiz on Qualifications and Characteristics/Personality and Views of the current Senators and Representative.
  • Find an article, political cartoon, photograph of the current Senator or Representative and analyze how it shows the the qualifications, characteristics/personality or views of the current Senator or Representative  using evidence from the “Senator or Representative Resume” and “Congressional Qualifications & Characteristics- Note-Taking”
Extension (Suggested Activities)
  • Have students compare and contrast the qualifications, characteristics/personality and/or views of their senators and representative.
  • Students analyze the use of media as a source using the following questions:
  1. How does the information about the person in the resume compare to the information in the video clip?  What are some similarities and differences?
  2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of the video clip in the information it provides about the person, their background, personality and views?