Deadline: Congress in the Classroom
- CALL FOR PARTICIPATION: CONGRESS IN THE CLASSROOM® 2013
* Deadline: March 15, 2013 *
Congress in the Classroom® is a national, award-winning summer workshop
developed and sponsored by The Dirksen Congressional Center and dedicated to
the exchange of ideas and information on teaching about Congress.
Designed for high school or middle school teachers who teach U.S. history,
government, civics, political science, or social studies, the program accepts
35 teachers annually.
Applications will be accepted through March 15. We expect to confirm selections
by March 29.
The workshop will feature a variety of sessions related to the U.S. Congress.
Presenters will emphasize ideas and resources that teachers can use almost
immediately in their classrooms--examples include sessions about Internet
sites, online historical resources, simulations, and best classroom practices.
Sessions for 2013 are listed below. Information about the content of each
session will be posted on our Web site as it becomes available.
Throughout the program, you will work with subject matter experts and
colleagues from across the nation. This combination of firsthand knowledge and
peer-to-peer interaction will give you new ideas, materials, and a
professionally enriching experience.
"Until now so much of what I did in my class on Congress was straight
theory--this is what the Constitution says," noted one of our teachers. "Now I
can use these activities and illustrations to help get my students involved in
the class and at the very least their community but hopefully in the federal
government. This workshop has given me a way to help them see how relevant my
class is and what they can do to help make changes in society."
The 2013 workshop will begin Monday afternoon, July 29, and end at noon on
Thursday, August 1. All sessions will take place at the headquarters hotel,
Embassy Suites and Conference Center, East Peoria, IL
(http://www.embassysuiteseastpeoria.com/home.aspx). The Illinois State Board of
Education certifies the workshop for up to 22 Continuing Education Units. The
National Council for the Social Studies also endorses the program.
Participants are responsible for (1) a non-refundable $135 registration fee
(required to confirm acceptance after notice of selection) and (2)
transportation to and from Peoria, Illinois. Many school districts will pay all
or a portion of these costs.
The Center pays for three nights lodging at the headquarters hotel (providing a
single room for each participant), workshop materials, local transportation,
all meals, and presenter honoraria and expenses.
The Center spends between $40,000 and $45,000 to host the program each year.
What follows are the sessions planned for the 2013 edition of Congress in the
Classroom®. Please re-visit the site for changes as the program develops.
Session Titles, 2013:
In addition to the sessions below, additional sessions will be listed as
speakers are confirmed.
"Congressional Insight: A Simulation"
With Congressional Insight, you experience the high-pressure, uncompromising
environment in which legislators must operate. With increasingly tight
deadlines imposed by the simulation, you are part of a team that must decide
which bills to support, which committee posts to seek, how much time to devote
to fund-raising, and what tradeoffs to make amidst constituent, party,
special-interest, and media pressures. The quality of your choices will be
tested in a re-election campaign.
"The Four "Ps" of Congress," Frank H. Mackaman, The Dirksen Congressional
Mackaman will suggest a way to present information about Congress organized
around four themes. These themes serve (somewhat loosely) as the structure for
the Congress in the Classroom® 2013 workshop.
"Ten Things to Know About the 113th Congress," Frank H. Mackaman, The Dirksen
What are the essential factors to know about the new Congress? This session
will highlight ten of them ranging from membership and organizational
characteristics to political dynamics and the issue agenda.
"Teaching with Primary Sources," Cindy Rich, Teaching with Primary Sources,
Eastern Illinois University
The Library of Congress's Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) program works
with an educational consortium of schools, universities, libraries, and
foundations to help teachers use the Library’s vast collection of digitized
primary sources to enrich their classroom instruction. Schools that have
participated in the program know that it encourages educators to embed primary
sources into curriculum through all disciplines and grade levels to build a
foundation of knowledge, enhance understanding, increase comprehension, and
develop multimedia/information literacy skills.
"Thomas.gov Reinvented as Congress.gov," Cindy Rich, Teaching with Primary
Sources, Eastern Illinois University
Learn about the features of the new Web site, Congress.gov, and explore
"Fantasy Congress: Adapting Fantasy Football to the People’s Branch," Jennifer
Hora, Department of Political Science, Valparaiso University
Imagine how engaged your students might be if they learned about Congress
through the use of a drafting game similar to Fantasy Football. Hora has
developed such an approach and finds that it encourages discussion, ownership,
and laughter in a curriculum focused on Congress.
"What Do Political Cartoons Tell Us About Congress?"
This session will introduce two Web-based resources for teaching about Congress
using political cartoons.
"Help for Teachers from the Office of the Historian," U.S. House of
Representatives, Office of the Historian, U.S. House of Representatives
This presentation will focus on the educational resources available through the
Historian’s new web site. They include information about the House, Congress
members, exhibitions and publications, historical collections, an oral history
program, and educational materials.
"A View of Congress from the White House: What the Presidential Tapes Reveal,"
KC Johnson, Department of History, Brooklyn College
Using samples from Lyndon Johnson presidential recordings, KC Johnson will
demonstrate the nature of congressional-executive relations in the 1960s. The
recordings give a behind-the-scenes sense of how Congress works on public
policy issues that’s unusual in its richness.
"Congress at Work: Going to the Source Documents," Christine Blackerby, Center
for Legislative Archives, National Archives and Records Administration
Teach your students how laws are made by using records actually created by
Congress while laws were made. Facsimiles of historical congressional records
are used to illustrate each step in the legislative process. Participants
investigate and appraise each document to determine what action is happening
and where in the legislative process that action occurs. This classroom-ready
lesson is set up as a game.
"The YouTube Congressional Campaign"
The "Vote Travis Irvine for Congress" campaign offers teachers the opportunity
to illustrate the challenges and foibles of congressional campaigning.
"The Congressional Timeline, 1933-2013"
The Dirksen Congressional Center’s Web-based timeline arrays more than 550 of
the nation's laws on a timeline beginning in 1933 and continuing to the
present. A second timeline "band" depicts major political events of the period
as a way to provide context for Congress's law-making. The project also
includes lesson plans.
"A Modern-Day 'Mr. Smith Goes to Washington"
Many teachers use the famed "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" starring Jean Arthur
and James Stewart. For all its relevance nearly 75 years after debuting, is
there a modern treatment of the same themes that might have more impact on your
students? Yes. And you will view it in this session, with a follow-up
"Off Beat Ways to Introduce Congress to Students"
You don’t have to introduce Congress with, "The United States Congress is the
bicameral legislature of the federal government . . . ." as some teachers
undoubtedly do and Wikipedia actually does. Instead, experiment with these
video clips to bring some fun to the subject.
"Insider Resources for the Congress Member"
Learn about two organizations that provide advice to Congress members and how
you can use their resources in your classrooms.
"Listen Up Legislators: How to Get Your Point Across," Stephanie Vance, the
Advocacy Guru, Washington DC
How do you break through the "noise" to communicate with a member of Congress?
Vance has the answers. She advises clients on how to reach Congress members
effectively by understanding how congressional offices function and process
information. Heads up--one of you will have a role in "Worst Congressional
Meeting in the World!"
Take a look at The Dirksen Center Web site --
http://www.dirksencenter.org/print_programs_CongressClassroom.htm -- to see
what participants say about the program.
* REGISTRATION *
If you are interested in learning more about the sessions and registering for
the Congress in the Classroom 2013 workshop, you can complete an online
registration form found at:
The Dirksen Congressional Center
Pekin, IL 61554
Web site: http://www.dirksencongressionalcenter.org