Information for Educators

Thank you for considering the CATALYST Curriculum as drafted by the Young Lawyers Division of the Tennessee Bar Association for your United States Government and Civics Course. We hope you will implement this program in your class as an interactive way to assist your students in mastering this particular course material.

Please note, the curriculum outlined above covers GC. 54, and 62-64 of the United States Government and Civics Curriculum as required by the Tennessee Department of Education.

More specifically, the following standards are covered:

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Curriculum for the Catalyst Program

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.

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Information for Students in the CATALYST Program

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

WELCOME TO THE CATALYST PROGRAM! This program is designed to help students get their voices heard by the General Assembly of the Great State of Tennessee! 
How can you engage? Create a CATALYST Group at your school. Brainstorm about issues you see in your community and State you'd like to see addressed by law. These can range from the mundane to the extraordinary! 
Please review the rules and recommendations for the program in the following video. 
Also, please watch "How to Draft a Bill" before embarking on the drafting process. 
Then, draft your bill and submit to the Tennessee Bar Association's Young Lawyers Division through
Submissions are due no later than 5:00 PM on December 15th!  We look forward to hearing your great ideas!

Get started by brainstorming issues you see in your community you'd like to see addressed. Tackle the obvious or be creative as you want. Be mindful of the following when discussing topics you may want to have considered by the legislature:

  • Is the issue I want to address already addressed by law?
  • Will my proposed solution to the issue I want to address violate any current laws on the books?
  • Will my proposed solution to the issue I want to address violate the Tennessee Constitution or the United State Constitution? What would be the likely expense to tax payers?
  • Who would my proposed solution help?
  • Who, if anyone, would it hurt? How would it hurt them?
  • Is the cost or the harm done to others outweighed by the benefit of the proposed solution? How?
  • Talk about your proposal with a friend or classmate. Ask them to be critical of the proposal. What concerns did they raise?
  • How would you address those concerns in a debate with someone who opposed your proposal?

Remember!! The bill filing deadline is in February! The TBA YLD requires all submissions to be filed with them NO LATER THAN DECEMBER 15th.

(Individual videos on the following:)

Things To Consider When Proposing New Legislation
Timelines and Deadlines To Be Mindful Of
How to Draft A Bill
How to Find A Sponsor For Your Bill

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Join the CATALYST Program Movement

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

Are you interested in how government works? Do you want to make a positive impact on your community? Then join the CATALYST movement!

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Mentors Needed for TBA's Mentoring Program

The TBA’s Mentoring Program is seeking volunteers to mentor newly-licensed attorneys in a variety of practice areas across the state. This is a flexible program designed by the mentor and mentee based on their schedules and availabilities. There is a current need for mentors in Clarksville, Cleveland, Murfreesboro, Nashville, Rockvale and Shelbyville. Find out more about the practice area needs here. To become a mentor, fill out this application or contact Kate Prince, 615-277-3202. 

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Diversity Leadership Institute

The Tennessee Bar Association Young Lawyers Division's Diversity Leadership Institute (DLI) is a six-month leadership and mentoring program for Tennessee law students in their second, third or fourth years of study. Now in its ninth year, the program is designed to:

  • Develop skills to succeed as a law student and attorney;
  • Empower students to contribute more to the legal community;
  • Match students to mentors in a diverse variety of practice areas; and
  • Build relationships among students of diverse backgrounds

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High School Mock Trial

The Tennessee High School Mock Trial Competition provides high school students an opportunity to learn about the law, court procedures, and legal system. Each year the YLD develops a fictional case in which students play the roles of attorneys and witnesses. The case and competition rules are distributed in November. In February, local competitions take place in 14 districts across the state. The winners of those contests advance to the state competition, which is held each March in Nashville. YLD members organize, host and score the state competition. Learn more about mock trial.

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Judicial Internship Program

The Tennessee Bar Association Young Lawyers Division (TBA YLD) hosted a Judicial Internship Program for five years. The program matched law students in Tennessee with appellate and trial court judges in the state who agreed to accept summer clerks. Students were placed with judges for either six or 12-week assignments. No compensation was available, but the experience gained through the program provided participants with meaningful and practical benefits. The YLD Board voted in July 2015 to sunset this program given the increase in paying position for law students in the state. Judges who would like assistance in identifying law student interns may still contact the TBA for leads.

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Law Student Outreach

The YLD, through its Law School Outreach, Membership and Diversity Committees, exposes law students in Tennessee to various career fields and practice areas. Through networking events, free seminars and free section membership, students can interact with lawyers practicing in a wide range of settings and areas of law. The YLD also hosts a leadership program for minority law students. Learn more on the TBA's law student page.

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Solo in a Box Toolkit

With more Tennessee attorneys – especially new lawyers – deciding to “hang out” their own shingle and begin a solo or small firm practice, the TBA has developed the Solo in a Box Toolkit. The toolkit offers advice on everything from how to choose office space to managing client files. It also offers information, resources, check lists and forms that can be used to establish and manage a law practice. An initiative of past TBA President Cindy Wyrick, the toolkit was developed and produced by the TBA’s Mentoring Committee in 2014 under the guidance of Franklin attorney David Veile.

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Past Projects & Programs

Past YLD programs have included the CASA Speaks for Polly coloring book, the Law Day Art & Essay Contest, support for the iCivics program, the Judicial Internship Program for law students and various presidential initiatives, including the 2014 Tennessee Library Education Project and the 2015 Access to Justice Week Legal Clinics. Learn more about these "retired" programs here

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