How to Talk to Kids: There's Nothing like a Classroom Visit from a Lawmaker to Bring the Legislative Process to Life. Here Are Five Ideas for Activities That Work

By Goehring, Jan; Fischer, Michael | State Legislatures, September 2004 | Go to article overview

How to Talk to Kids: There's Nothing like a Classroom Visit from a Lawmaker to Bring the Legislative Process to Life. Here Are Five Ideas for Activities That Work


Goehring, Jan, Fischer, Michael, State Legislatures


With schools back in session, it's time to think about reaching out to your young constituents. Meeting personally with students, answering their questions, sharing ideas and listening to concerns can impart a greater understanding of the legislative process. This helps develop good citizens, more effective representation and better public policy. You are uniquely qualified to teach young people--the nation's future voters and leaders--what it's like to be a state legislator: the processes, the pressures, and the debate, negotiation and compromise that are the fabric of representative democracy.

Consider calling schools in your district and setting up a classroom visit. Establish contact with a specific teacher either directly or through the school administrator. Find out if there are existing academic programs in which your participation might be beneficial. These could provide opportunities to raise awareness about our system of government and promote a more positive image of the legislature.

After the initial contact has been established, send your biography to the classroom teacher before your visit. This will help the students and teacher learn more about you and prepare some preliminary questions. As you plan for your visit avoid the temptation to prepare a lecture. The messages you will want to convey are best achieved through discussions and activities on issues students care about. Examples of topics that might be important to kids in your state include school uniforms, violence, driving age, helmets for bicyclists or roller bladers, video game restrictions, smoking on campus, graffiti, competency testing to graduate and curfews.

IDEAS FOR REACHING KIDS

Kids will learn best about what it's like to be a legislator if lessons are personalized. Here are some suggestions for activities you can use with a class. These ideas work best in classrooms, rather than in large, all-school assemblies.

1 Legislative Simulation (high school or middle school). This activity requires advance planning and coordination with the classroom teacher. Before your visit, ask the teacher to work with the class to choose a public policy issue the students think is important and prepare a simple, policy proposal to address the problem. On your day in the classroom, ask several students to form a "legislative committee" to hold a public hearing on the proposal. Have other students present brief "testimony" for and against the proposed policy. Then have the committee members debate the proposal and make a recommendation to the full class. Finally, have the full class discuss and vote on the proposal. At the conclusion of the simulation, explain how this exercise relates to the real-world process of dealing with competing interests, negotiating, compromising and decision making that you experience in legislative life.

2 Solving a Class Problem (all grade levels). Ask the students to pretend they can have a field trip to go anywhere the entire class agrees on. Divide the class into three equal size groups that want to do three different things (e.g., go to the mall, a water park or a professional sports event).

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

How to Talk to Kids: There's Nothing like a Classroom Visit from a Lawmaker to Bring the Legislative Process to Life. Here Are Five Ideas for Activities That Work
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.