Interactive Learning Modules

 

Developed for students as well as the general public, these interactive learning activities are designed to give you a fresh perspective on how the United States Congress works, your role in the process, and peoples' perceptions about Congress. To open the modules, click the graphic.

Lesson Plans and State Standards are currently being updated.

 

 
 
How Member Decides

E-Learning Activities for Students

Sponsor: The Alliance for Representative Democracy

A nice introduction to how Congress works, what Members of Congress do, and the importance of citizen participation, this E-Learning Activities module pulls together some key sections from the eight e-learning modules featured below. The activities are brief and the format is easy to access, and you will also get a good sense of what's contained in the longer modules.

 

How Member Decides

How a Member Decides to Vote

Sponsor: The Paul Ogle Foundation of Indiana

Members of Congress have many influences to draw upon when deciding how to vote for a bill: their conscience, input from constituents, party loyalty, and perhaps, pressure from the administration. In this module, you are a Member of Congress who will soon have to vote on a proposed Constitutional amendment to ban flag desecration. You will meet with all of the types of people who typically try to influence your thinking on a bill, including Members of your party, constituents, special interests, and the administration.

 

Public Criticisms

 

Public Criticisms of Congress

Sponsor: The Henry Luce Foundation

In the Public Criticisms module, you will hear many of the common criticisms of Congress via "man on the street" videos. You will then be able to hear what some Congressional experts have to say about those criticisms. You will vote on whether you agree or disagree with what the public and the experts are saying, and see how other users voted on the criticisms. There are additional research resources and polling data for each of the 15 criticisms.

 

How Member Decides

 

The Impact of Congress

Sponsor: The Alliance for Representative Democracy

Contrary to many Americans' opinions, the work of Congress has a significant impact on their everyday lives. This colorful module walks you through a typical day, from the alarm clock ringing, going to school and work, and turning in at night. Pop-ups appear letting you know the role Congress had, as well as state and local government, with some aspect of the highlighted object.

 

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The Importance of Civic Participation

Sponsor: The Alliance for Representative Democracy

This module illustrates ways in which Americans can participate in the democratic process, and highlights individuals who have made a difference by getting involved. Many citizens do not know where to go with a problem, or about the many ways in which to get involved. Upon completion of this module, you will have a better understanding of how to participate and make a difference.

 

How Member Decides

 

The Dynamic Legislative Process

Sponsor: The Henry Luce Foundation

The typical textbook description of the legislative process, though technically valid in some respects, is woefully inadequate in describing the fascinating, vibrant, often "messy" reality of how a bill becomes law. This module allows you to compare the typical textbook process with the more realistic "dynamic" process, and you will see how our untidy process has produced solid results.

 

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The Many Roles of a Member of Congress

Sponsor: The Alliance for Representative Democracy

Despite widespread coverage of Congress, what Members do on a daily basis is still a mystery to most people, even though several of those roles might be of particular benefit to them. This module gives an overview of Members' various roles, from national legislator and investigator to constituent helper, educator, and civic promoter. Interactive sections go through a typical day in DC, and then show some quite different roles back home. You will hear from experts and then try your hand at sorting out some of the challenges facing a new Member of Congress.

 

How Member Decides

Notable Members of Congress

Sponsor: The Henry Luce Foundation

In this module you will be introduced to Members of Congress who have made significant contributions to the quality of life in America. More than 12,000 legislators have served in Congress, some of whom have gone on to be President. Some had quite interesting careers before becoming Members of Congress. Others, either by changing the system or working skillfully within it, were able to make lasting positive changes to the lives of all Americans.

 

How Member Decides

Federal Budget Allocation

Sponsor: The Henry Luce Foundation

One of Congress' major responsibilities is providing funds for federal programs. This activity allows you to try your hand at allocating the federal budget. You will first be asked how much money you think was allocated to categories such as defense, welfare, and the environment. Then you will see how much money Congress actually provided. Next, you will decide how the budget SHOULD be allocated, and then compare your spending priorities to those of other students.

 

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How Member Decides

Understanding Representative Democracy

Sponsor: The Alliance for Representative Democracy

In this module, you will hear from Members of Congress, state legislators, and political scientists as they discuss some of the key questions about our system of representative democracy: the role of special interests; partisanship and instability in state legislatures; public accountability of lawmakers, and the need for citizen engagement.