Connecting Math and
Language Arts to Civics
Students will learn how a bill becomes a law in
California by participating in the KidsŐ Corner activity, Follow a Bill! They will then apply some the steps that they
learned to create a schoolwide initiative that they will first introduce to
the student body in a survey. After reviewing the survey results and revising
the initiative to reflect the interests of the student body, students will then
present their initiative to the student council for a vote.
Grade
Levels: 4^{th} Đ 8^{th}
Objectives
Time: 3 class sessions (approx.)
Computers
with internet access
Follow a
Bill! worksheet
Chart paper
Examples of
surveys
Microsoft
Excel or similar spreadsheet program (to be used with older children)
Procedure:
1.
Begin
lesson by asking students if they have a way to make changes at their school
(this is most relevant if there is a formal student council established). Talk about how ideas are presented to
the student council. Record on
chart paper the steps that are involved (or ask students to research further
the decision making process of the student council). Ask if they can recall any events or changes that have
happened recently (if they cannot recollect anything, this is OK, it will be
something to reflect on throughout the lesson). Instruct students that they will be learning about how ideas
become laws in California. Introduce students to the Follow a Bill! section of the KidsŐ Corner web
site and tell them that they will be following a good idea that one of our
State Senators introduced as a bill.
Have students work in teams of two and inform them that they will be
recording information on a worksheet while they go through the section. Introduce the Follow a Bill! worksheet and instruct students to
write down all of the steps that the bill had to go through to become law.
2.
Talk
with the class about the steps that Senator SpeierŐs bill had to take to become
a law. Record all of the steps on
chart paper. If there is an active
student council, compare the steps that an idea must go through at the school
in order for it to go into effect at the school site (you may want to invite
members of the student council to speak about this). Discuss the similarities and differences.
3.
Create
a class initiative. Have students
work in teams of two to three to decide on an idea that they would like to
develop into an initiative for the school to vote on. Have the students present their ideas and create a ŇtchartÓ
for the rest of the class to assess the pros and cons for the ideas. Narrow the initiative ideas down to a
few class favorites and develop them further, taking into account the pros and
cons that were mentioned.
4. Survey public opinion of the
initiative. Instruct students that
they will now find out what the rest of the school thinks about their
idea. They will conduct a school
survey to research the popularity of their initiative. Create a simple survey form together
including the following information: basic demographic data (sex, age, grade
level, etc.), a question that restates the initiative (Do you think _______ is
a good idea for the school? Why or why not?), a question about other ways to
improve the school (Do you have other ideas of how to improve the school?); Note: you may want to have students
review other surveys to get an idea about how a survey is constructed.
5.
Instruct
students to work in teams of two. Have them practice presenting the
survey to each other before they present it to other students. Instruct each
team to survey 10 students. It will be important to decide ahead of time how to approach
other students (before school, at recess, after school). The most effective way would be to make
appointments with teachers to present the survey during class, but this is not
always feasible. Encourage
students to survey a variety of students that represent the whole student body
(different ages, sexes, grade levels, classrooms etc).
6.
Create
a student tally sheet for students to record their results. Combine all student results in a class
tally sheet or create a spreadsheet of database. Have student teams compare and contrast their results that
they gathered with the rest of the survey results. Encourage students to draw
conclusions about the data that they collected. You may want to decide on one
initiative to pursue (if you had more than one) based on the results of your
survey.
7.
Have
students write a persuasive writing piece that supports the initiative, siting
specific results from their survey data.
As a class, make revisions to the initiative(s) based on the information
that was gathered. Then create a
report to accompany the initiative (based on the ideas that the students
presented in their writing pieces).
Present the initiative to the student council (or the principal if no
student council exists) and request that the school vote on it.
8.
Encourage
students to make buttons and posters to publicize their initiative. When the vote is taken, discuss
the results. Congratulate the
students for all of their hard work and involvement, regardless of the
outcome. Let them know that they
have been a part of democracy in action!
Extension: Encourage students to track other bills by visiting www.leginfo.ca.gov.
Please
note: Depending on
the age and grade level of your students, portions of this lesson can either be
extended or omitted (especially in terms of statistical measures and writing
pieces).
Statistics,
Data Analysis, and Probability
Grade
4: Students
organize, represent, and interpret numerical and categorical data and clearly
communicate their findings
Grade
5: Students
display, analyze, compare, and interpret different data sets, including data
sets of different sizes
Grade 6: Students compute and analyze
statistical measurements for data sets; Students use data samples of a
population and describe the characteristics and limitations of the samples
Grades
3^{rd} & 4^{th}: Writing
Strategies
Students
write clear, coherent sentences and paragraphs that develop a central idea.
Their writing shows they consider the audience and purpose. Students progress
through the stages of the writing process (e.g., prewriting, drafting,
revising, editing successive versions).
Grade
4: 4.5 Students
understand the structures, functions, and powers of the local, state, and federal
governments as described in the U.S. Constitution.
Grade
8: 8.3 Students understand the foundation
of the American political system and the ways in which citizens participate in
it.
Follow a Bill!


Write down the steps that Bill takes you through for
a bill to become law. If you need additional space, please write on the back of
the paper or attach another sheet of paper.
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Follow a Bill!
Answer
Key


Write
down the steps that Bill takes you through for a bill to become law. (Please Note: Students may choose to
add additional steps.).
Step 2: The bill is introduced
to the senate, where it has to go through committees. It goes to the
Transportation Committee, which passes it and makes some changes. Then it goes
to the Appropriations Committee, which focuses on money and budget issues. It
passes there too.
Step 7: The bill was given to the Governor for his approval and
signature. Governor Gray Davis approved the bill and signed it into law on
September 24, 2000. (Then, Secretary of State Bill Jones placed it within the
California Codes, a grouping of all the laws for the State.)