Application Deadline: Congress in the Classroom

All Day
on Friday, March 15, 2013
Congress in the Classroom is a national, award-winning education program developed and sponsored by The Dirksen Congressional Center, the workshop is dedicated to the exchange of ideas and information on teaching about Congress. Congress in the Classroom® is designed for high school or middle school teachers who teach U.S. history, government, civics, political science, or social studies. Thirty-five teachers will be selected to take part in the program. Applications will be accepted through March 15. We expect to confirm selections by March 29. The workshop will feature a variety of sessions related to the U.S. Congress. Presenters will emphasize ideas and resources that teachers can use almost immediately in their classrooms--examples include sessions about Internet sites, online historical resources, simulations, and best classroom practices. Sessions for 2013 are listed below. Information about the content of each session will be posted on our Web site as it becomes available. Throughout the program, you will work with subject matter experts as well as colleagues from across the nation. This combination of firsthand knowledge and peer-to-peer interaction will give you new ideas, materials, and a professionally enriching experience. The 2013 workshop will begin Monday afternoon, July 29, and end at noon on Thursday, August 1. All sessions will take place at the headquarters hotel, Embassy Suites and Conference Center in East Peoria, IL. The program is certified by the Illinois State Board of Education for up to 22 Continuing Education Units. The program also is endorsed by the National Council for the Social Studies. Participants are responsible for (1) a non-refundable $135 registration fee (required to confirm acceptance after notice of selection) and (2) transportation to and from Peoria, Illinois. Many school districts will pay all or a portion of these costs. The Center pays for three nights lodging at the headquarters hotel (providing a single room for each participant), workshop materials, local transportation, all meals, and presenter honoraria and expenses. The Center spends between $40,000 and $45,000 to host the program each year. What follows are the sessions planned for the 2013 edition of Congress in the Classroom. Please re-visit the site for changes as the program develops. Session Titles, 2013: In addition to the sessions below, additional sessions will be listed as speakers are confirmed. * "Congressional Insight: A Simulation" –With Congressional Insight, you experience the high-pressure, uncompromising environment in which legislators must operate. With increasingly tight deadlines imposed by the simulation, you are part of a team that must decide which bills to support, which committee posts to seek, how much time to devote to fund-raising, and what tradeoffs to make amidst constituent, party, special-interest, and media pressures. The quality of your choices will be tested in a re-election campaign. * "The Four "Ps" of Congress" Frank H. Mackaman, The Dirksen Congressional Center –Mackaman will suggest a way to present information about Congress organized around four themes. These themes serve (somewhat loosely) as the structure for the Congress in the Classroom 2013 workshop. * "Ten Things to Know About the 113th Congress" -- Frank H. Mackaman, The Dirksen Congressional Center –What are the essential factors to know about the new Congress? This session will highlight ten of them ranging from membership and organizational characteristics to political dynamics and the issue agenda. * "Teaching with Primary Sources" -- Cindy Rich, Teaching with Primary Sources, Eastern Illinois University –The Library of Congress's Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) program works with an educational consortium of schools, universities, libraries, and foundations to help teachers use the Library¹s vast collection of digitized primary sources to enrich their classroom instruction. Schools that have participated in the program know that it encourages educators to embed primary sources into curriculum through all disciplines and grade levels to build a foundation of knowledge, enhance understanding, increase comprehension, and develop multimedia/information literacy skills. * " Reinvented as" -- Cindy Rich, Teaching with Primary Sources, Eastern Illinois University –Learn about the features of the new Web site,, and explore classroom applications. * "Fantasy Congress: Adapting Fantasy Football to the People¹s Branch" -- Jennifer Hora, Department of Political Science, Valparaiso University –Imagine how engaged your students might be if they learned about Congress through the use of a drafting game similar to Fantasy Football. Hora has developed such an approach and finds that it encourages discussion, ownership, and laughter in a curriculum focused on Congress. * "What Do Political Cartoons Tell Us About Congress?" –This session will introduce two Web-based resources for teaching about Congress using political cartoons. * "Help for Teachers from the Office of the Historian, U.S. House of Representatives" Office of the Historian, U.S. House of Representatives –This presentation will focus on the educational resources available through the Historian¹s new web site. They include information about the House, Congress members, exhibitions and publications, historical collections, an oral history program, and educational materials. * "A View of Congress from the White House: What the Presidential Tapes Reveal" -- KC Johnson, Department of History, Brooklyn College –Using samples from Lyndon Johnson presidential recordings, KC Johnson will demonstrate the nature of congressional-executive relations in the 1960s. The recordings give a behind-the-scenes sense of how Congress works on public policy issues that¹s unusual in its richness. * "Congress at Work: Going to the Source Documents" -- Christine Blackerby, Center for Legislative Archives, National Archives and Records Administration –Teach your students how laws are made by using records actually created by Congress while laws were made. Facsimiles of historical congressional records are used to illustrate each step in the legislative process. Participants investigate and appraise each document to determine what action is happening and where in the legislative process that action occurs. This classroom-ready lesson is set up as a game. * "The YouTube Congressional Campaign" The "Vote Travis Irvine for Congress" campaign offers teachers the opportunity to illustrate the challenges and foibles of congressional campaigning. * "The Congressional Timeline, 1933-2013" –The Center¹s Web-based timeline arrays more than 550 of the nation's laws on a timeline beginning in 1933 and continuing to the present. A second timeline "band" depicts major political events of the period as a way to provide context for Congress's law-making. The project also includes lesson plans. * "A Modern-Day 'Mr. Smith Goes to Washington'" –Many teachers use the famed "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" starring Jean Arthur and James Stewart. For all its relevance nearly 75 years after debuting, is there a modern treatment of the same themes that might have more impact on your students? Yes. And you will view it in this session, with a follow-up discussion. * "Off Beat Ways to Introduce Congress to Students" –You don¹t have to introduce Congress with, "The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government . . . ." as some teachers undoubtedly do and Wikipedia actually does. Instead, experiment with these video clips to bring some fun to the subject. * "Insider Resources for the Congress Member" –Learn about two organizations which provide advice to Congress members and how you can use their resources in your classrooms. * "Listen Up Legislators: How to Get Your Point Across" -- Stephanie Vance, the Advocacy Guru, Washington DC –How do you break through the "noise" to communicate with a member of Congress? Vance has the answers. She advises clients on how to reach Congress people effectively by understanding how congressional offices function and process information. Heads up - one of you will have a role in "Worst Congressional Meeting in the World!" Take a look at teh website to see what participants say about the program. * REGISTRATION * If you are interested in learning more about the sessions and registering for the Congress in the Classroom 2013 workshop, you can complete an online registration form found here.