Lesson Plan: How a Bill Becomes a law (The Legislative Process)

Objectives: The students will...

1.      Describe the parts that make up the legislative branch on all three levels of government.

2.      Outline the process by which a bill becomes a law on both federal and state levels.

Main Activity: PowerPoint: How a Bill Becomes a Law: The Journey of a Bill

Distribute the fill-in-the-blank worksheets designed to accompany this presentation entitled
8.2.2 - PowerPoint: How a Bill Becomes a Law: The Journey of a Bill.
PowerPoint: Available as a web page

Project the PowerPoint presentation or allow students to view it individually in the computer lab.


Inform students that their worksheet has additional images that will help them understand how a bill becomes a law. This procedure for getting bills through Congress is known as the legislative process. The PowerPoint presentation contains a flow chart that guides students through the entire process from start to finish. Each frame highlights the next step as the bill moves from introduction to passage. The flow chart is included at the end of the student worksheet guide.


Filmstrip or Video: The Federal Government In Action: The Congress

Preview any video or filmstrip your school or district has on the Legislative Branch of Government. One suggested production on this topic is Ken Burns: Congress (The Video). Available at pbs.org (Item Code: TCNT901).C-SPAN has recently broadcasted and released on DVD a 9-hour look at the US Capitol, which contains a rich collection of facts about Congress. Locate the video for sale on-line at http://www.c-spanstore.org. The product ID is CHVC


Prepare and distribute study guide packets to students. Prepare a set of transparencies that contain the study questions contained in the filmstrip and distribute the packets to students.


Show the video or filmstrip.


While students watch the video, have them answer the study guide questions. Students should maintain an answer sheet on their own papers. Stop the audio to discuss key ideas, analyze visual information, and mark answers to study guide questions.


Period 10: Independent Project: Creating a Game Board on How a Bill Becomes a Law


Distribute the worksheet entitled 8:2.3 - The Legislative Process: Creating a Game Board. The worksheet contains directions for the students on how to create a game board that reflects the process of how a bill becomes a law.


Students can work in groups on their game board. Direct students to various sources of information that will help them develop the game board. They can use their textbooks, their PowerPoint notes, and the sample game board provided for them on the opposite side of the directions. They can also conduct library research or investigate the process on the Internet. One excellent resource for young people can be found on the website of the US House of Representatives at http://clerkkids.house.gov/laws/index.html.


The directions that you should distribute to students have been included here. Inform students that they should create a game board that includes the elements found on the evaluation sheet. They should use the sheet as their checklist while creating the board. The board can have trivia cards that contain questions on the legislative process, or the board can have events that cause the player to move forward, backwards, or lose their turn. The design of the game itself is up to the student as long as all the parts of the legislative process can be found somewhere on the board or in their cards. Use the evaluation sheet as a rubric for evaluating student performance.


You can have students bring in their boards and take time to play each otherís games. This way, they will reinforce their understanding of the legislative process and have fun while ding it.



8:2.3 - The Legislative Process: Creating a Game Board (Directions to Students)

1.      Take out your information sheet on How A Bill Becomes a Law. You can also use your textbook or the Internet (any resource that helps you understand the process).

2.      You may work in groups of two or three.

3.      Create your own game board that helps you and other students learn how a bill becomes a law.

4.      Brainstorm a word bank of terms that can be used as game cards as a bill moves from start to finish. Terms should include but are not limited to:

1. Lobbyist
2. Pigeonhole
3. Filibuster
4. Rules Committee
5. Mark-Up
6. Debate
7. Veto
8. Override
9. Pocket veto
10. Recommend to the Floor

5.      Take a look at the sample game board. (Next page). Use images from your Internet, hand drawn images, or Xerox copies from your book to complete the game board.

6.      Create game cards that help the bill move backwards or forwards. Make your game board colorful (lots of red, white, and blue) and have it reflect the legislative process of moving through both houses, committees, and to the President.

A Legislative Process Game Board

A game board example

I have included two examples of actual game boards created by student groups. These are exemplary pieces of work because they had the critical elements that illustrate the legislative process. Remember that students can use images copied from their textbook, magazine cutouts, images from the World Wide Web, or they can hand-draw graphical icons that illustrate how the bill moves through both houses of Congress.


Here is an example of a game board project.It could have included a greater number of supplementary images, but the ďcapitolĒ design won it high marks.



Here is a second example. The students hand-drew images around the path to illustrate the process. Effort is also seen in the colors, design, and accuracy of information.

Use the Bill to Law Evaluation Checklist to assess studentsí progress on their projects.

Independent Practice: Congress in the News


Have students locate one magazine, newspaper, or Internet-based article dealing with Congress and current events. Direct students to discover articles dealing with the changes in Congressional leadership since the last election.


Distribute the worksheet entitled Civics Note-taking Worksheet: Gathering Information From a Magazine Article. (Available as a Word 2000 document or in PDF format). The teacher workbook contains an example of how students use the worksheet to analyze and interpret an article on Congress, but the worksheet can be used for any Civics topic.


Students should summarize key terms that they locate and identify in the article. Their summary appears in the column on the right next to the terms that place in the left-hand column.††


Make a transparency of the blank version of the worksheet. Have students suggest which terms to discuss. Each student may have a different set of terms, but the example in the teacherís edition used an article on Tom Delay because he is the outgoing House Majority Leader at the time of this writing. Display terms and definitions on the overhead and have students write down key terms they may have missed.


Ask students the following basic question after discussing the article: Based on what you read in the article, show how Congress helps make our government a democratic government that follows the principals of American democracy?


Content Reading Assignment: Reviewing Terms


Have students review the list of vocabulary terms for this chapter.


Have students create a set of flash cards for the list or for part of the list. The flash card should have the work on one side, the definition on the other along with a drawing that will help the student remember the definition.


Allow students to use their cards to practice terms if time remains.


Evaluation: The lesson will be evaluated byÖ


1.      The accuracy of studentís written responses to discussion questions.

2.      The accuracy of student responses on interactive worksheet.

3.      The quality of student definitions and pictographs on their flash cards.

4.      The number of point earned on the How a Bill Becomes a Law Game Board

5.      Studentís scores on future tests and quizzes.


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