Civic Education

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​Lesson Plans for Civics Teachers

We're building our lesson library - watch this space for updates and more classroom civics activities!

How Bills Become Law PowerPoint

Teacher Notes

Student Worksheet

How Bills Become Law

Follow the Washington State Legislative process from idea to bill to law, noting the major players involved in each step. Students can complete the worksheet following along with the PowerPoint and lecture notes outlining the key points of the process.

Grades: 4-12

Time: 1 hour

Objectives:

  • Understand the steps of the lawmaking process in Washington State
  • Understand how and why the legislative process winnows bills down at each step 
  • Identify major stakeholders and decision-makers at each stage of the legislative process
The Perfect Pizza

The Perfect Pizza

This activity introduces students to the key ideas behind the legislative process: how do you make fair decisions that affect a large group of people, when there are many different ideas about the right thing to do?

Grades: 1-6

Time: 1 hour

Objectives:

  • Understand ideas of debate, compromise, and negotiation

Committee Process Overview PowerPoint

Mock Teacher Guide

Sample Bills

Plastic Bag Bill Package

Energy Drinks Bill Package

Ivory Bill Package

Bike Helmets Bill Package

Uniforms Bill Package

Teen Wage Bill Package

Mock Committee Hearing

Hold a committee hearing in your class to debate a policy proposal the same way Washington State legislators do.  The sample bills below come with pre-drafted amendments and bill reports (recommended for younger grades or classes with limited time).  Students can also write their own bills and amendments, or look up real bills by topic on the Legislature's search site. The Teacher Guide includes a complete 5-class lecture plan, Common Core standards aligned evaluation rubrics in Speaking and Listening and Literacy in Social Studies, hearing scripts, and graphic organizers for student research and debate prep.

Grades: 6-12

Time: 5 hours

Objectives:

  • Understand the purpose of committee hearings in the legislative process
  • Understand the roles of legislators, staff, interest groups, and citizens in a committee hearing
  • Research different perspectives and solutions on a policy topic
  • Develop persuasive arguments on a policy topic
  • Participate in civil and constructive debate on a policy topic


 

Executive Session Role Play Lesson Plan

Executive Session

Executive Session Roles and Documents

​Executive Session Role Play

In an Executive Session, legislative committee members discuss their opinions on bills and vote on amendments and whether the bill should move on to the next step of the process. They take into account testimony from the public hearing and from letters, fact sheets, and research by citizens and stakeholders who care about the issue. This activity has students play the role of legislators with individual perspectives on a bill, weighing a variety of opinions and negotiating a compromise.

Grades: 8-12
Time: 1-2 hours
Objectives:

  • Evaluate information and arguments from different sources on a policy issue
  • Practice and understand a legislator's role in negotiating among different priorities and weighing trade-offs of various proposals

Budget Balancing Exercise Lesson Plan

Budget Balancing Worksheet

Starting 2015 Budget

Digital Budget Worksheets

Spending and Revenue Boards

Spending and Revenue Change Options

Budget Balancing Exercise

Explore the Washington State operating budget in-depth by playing the roles of budget negotiators. Students work in teams to compromise among a variety of competing priorities and create a balanced budget proposal. This exercise is loosely based on realistic proposals from the 2015-2016 budget cycle and helps students understand the scale and challenges of statewide budgeting. The method can also be adapted or simplified for younger students.

Grades: 9-12

Time: 2 hours

Objectives:

  • Understand the major components of the Washington State Operating Budget
  • Identify challenges in budget negotations (limited time, limited resources, difficult trade-offs, competing priorities)

Who Gets to Vote? Lesson Plan

​Who Gets to Vote?

In this interactive game, students are randomly assigned to groups, which determine whether or not they are allowed to vote in a classroom poll. By expanding the groups who get to vote over a series of polls, the simulation helps students understand the historical expansion of voting rights in the United States.

Grades: 4-12

Time: 1 hour

Objectives:

  • Understand the impact that restricting voting rights has on group decisions
  • Relate the game to the history of voting rights expansion in the United States

Chutes and Lawmaking Lesson Plan

Chutes and Lawmaking Directions

Chutes and Lawmaking Gameboard

Color Chutes and Lawmaking Gameboard

Color Chutes and Lawmaking Playing Pieces

Chutes & Lawmaking Board Game

Students select bill topics and play a Chutes and Ladders style game that takes them through the twists and turns of the legislative process. For an extension activity, have students design their own games.

Grades: 4-12

Time: 1 hour

Objectives:

  • Understand the various paths and roadblocks for a bill to become a law in the Washington State Legislature

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