Civic Achievement Through Activism in the Legislature by Young Students in Tennessee

Day 1

Class Work:

Teachers will play for the students videos provided on the website on this page. There are two videos in all, with interviews of Todd Skelton, Deputy Counsel to Governor Haslam, Jayme Simmons, Special Assistant for Strategy and Policy Director for Governor Haslam, and Rep. William Lamberth, Sumner County.

These videos do include slides with statistics from which students can easily takes notes and prepare for testing.

After watching the videos, during class, on their own, students are to research who their State Senator and State Representatives are by using either the internet or Tennessee Blue Book.

Students will be provided five bills that were considered by the legislature this year to review during class or at home. Students should also look up one piece of legislation their own Representative has proposed that has impacted the lives of Tennesseans. (For legislation to be considered, check and select the PDF file “Legislation”)

View "How To Draft a Winning Bill" document

Homework Assignment:

  • Students will be provided five bills that were considered for legislation this past session. (If you have a smaller class of less than 18 students, only use three bills).
  • Each student shall write a short, half-page essay on a bill they found interesting and whether they agree with that bill or not. It's important for each student to read each bill, however, for the following day's activity.
  • Each student shall write a short, half-page essay on an issue they have identified in their community, state, or country, they feel needs being addressed by the legislative process. Teachers can give examples of issues they might consider.


Day 2

Each student shall be assigned a “district” to serve as that district's representative.

Group your students into 5 groups to serve as "Committee Members" with each group to be assigned one of the bills they took home the night before. Groups should debate their assigned bill for 15 minutes.

Students should consider the following when debating the bills:

  • Who will the proposed bill affect positively?
  • Who, if anyone, will it affect negatively?
  • Will there be an expense to the citizen the law affects or the government to implement the law?
  • Is the expense worth the outcome?

Each group shall assign one student to speak in favor of the bill and one student to speak who's opposed to the bill. They shall each have two and one-half minutes to present their argument to the entire class.

If time permits, allow students not on that committee to ask questions to the presenters about their position before voting.

Have the entire class vote on each bill and announce results at the end of class.

While students are broken up into groups debating, the instructor should quickly review the essays written on proposed new legislation written by each student. She can select some standout essays and ask those students to present on the issue they identified to the class for debate at the end of class.