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Expanding Measureable Student Learning about Congress through an In-Class, Effective Mock Congress
Unformatted Document Text:  9 each chamber are instructed to read the bills before the “floor.” The leaders also get to decide which bills get read first and voted on first. I allow this I explain because it represents real life leadership decisions regarding the legislative calendar. If we run out of time and the session ends, the bills at the bottom do not receive action. Leaders read each bill, ask for discussion and then take a vote by show of hands. I explain the purpose of the House Rules Committee and then House members are limited to one minute of discussion per person on each bill. Senators are not limited regarding how long they may hold the floor and are told that they may filibuster (that can get amusing). When the floor votes close, I look at the student documents to see if any bills passed both houses. We start with approximately 30 bills and I usually only find one or two bills that passed both houses; many times there are none. As President, I then describe the President’s option for each bill and act accordingly, depending on what party I am role-playing. If I do not sign a bill they get the opportunity for an override vote. Value to Students’ Learning Students benefit greatly from the simulation and nuances of this activity. They truly begin to understand the power among the majority members of the chambers. They sense the chaos, time constraints and conflict involved in policy-making. Students are able to describe the chronological legislative process and identify key actors. Other learning occurs as well. Students learn that law-making is competitive and incremental. Their make-believe committees hack away and restructure the rudimentary bills, sometimes beyond the recognition of the original sponsor. Furthermore, students are reminded that “nothing is free,” and comment on how difficult it is to figure out how to pay for new

Authors: Sabo, Joanna.
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9
each chamber are instructed to read the bills before the “floor.” The leaders also get to decide
which bills get read first and voted on first. I allow this I explain because it represents real life
leadership decisions regarding the legislative calendar. If we run out of time and the session
ends, the bills at the bottom do not receive action. Leaders read each bill, ask for discussion and
then take a vote by show of hands. I explain the purpose of the House Rules Committee and then
House members are limited to one minute of discussion per person on each bill. Senators are not
limited regarding how long they may hold the floor and are told that they may filibuster (that can
get amusing). When the floor votes close, I look at the student documents to see if any bills
passed both houses. We start with approximately 30 bills and I usually only find one or two bills
that passed both houses; many times there are none.
As President, I then describe the President’s option for each bill and act accordingly,
depending on what party I am role-playing. If I do not sign a bill they get the opportunity for an
override vote.
Value to Students’ Learning
Students benefit greatly from the simulation and nuances of this activity. They truly
begin to understand the power among the majority members of the chambers. They sense the
chaos, time constraints and conflict involved in policy-making. Students are able to describe the
chronological legislative process and identify key actors.
Other learning occurs as well. Students learn that law-making is competitive and
incremental. Their make-believe committees hack away and restructure the rudimentary bills,
sometimes beyond the recognition of the original sponsor. Furthermore, students are reminded
that “nothing is free,” and comment on how difficult it is to figure out how to pay for new


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