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Congress in the Classroom®
 

What is Congress in the Classroom®?

What Do Participants Say About the Program?

Session Titles, Presenters, and Presentations, 2013

Selected Presentations, 2012

Selected Presentations, 2011

Selected Presentations, 2010

Selected Presentations, 2009

Selected Presentations, 2007

Online Application

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National Council for the Social Studies

Endorsed by the National Council for the Social Studies

What is Congress in the Classroom®?

Developed and sponsored by The Dirksen Congressional Center, the workshop is dedicated to the exchange of ideas and information on teaching about Congress.

Who Should Attend?

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.

What Will I Learn?

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 will be listed after January 1. 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.

“Until now so much of what I did in my class on Congress was straight theory—this is what the Constitution says,” noted one of our teachers. “Now I can use these activities and illustrations to help get my students involved in the class and at the very least their community but hopefully in the federal government. This workshop has given me a way to help them see how relevant my class is and what they can do to help make changes in society.”

When is Congress in the Classroom®?

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, East Peoria, IL.  

How Much Will It Cost?

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.

Will I Receive Credit for the Course?

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.

Deadline

Enrollment is competitive and limited to thirty-five.  Applications will be accepted through March 30. We expect to confirm selections by April 15. Selection will be determined by The Center. For more information, contact: 

Lynn Kasinger
The Dirksen Congressional Center 
2815 Broadway
Pekin, IL  61554 
lkasinger@dirksencenter.org
Phone:  (309) 347-7113 
Fax:  (309) 347-6432

ONLINE APPLICATION

What Do Participants Say About the Program?

Comments from teachers who participated in recent workshops:

One of our 2010 participants prepared an in-service describing the workshop -- PowerPoint Presentation

"It definitely helped me envision how I can make government a more active and participatory class, as well as relevant. It was a great mix of content and activities to bring the concepts alive."  Clair Wiles, North Eugene HS, Eugene, OR

"This conference was by far the best I’ve ever attended. I left with a wealth of resources that I’ll use in the future. I’ve even made several professional relationships that will enhance my teaching. Thank you!" Justin Roy, Marshwood Middle School, South Berwick, ME

"I gained so much from the Congress in the Classroom® program. I can’t wait to go back to school to implement many of the lessons and resources. Thank you so much for this outstanding experience." Laura Riley, Buchanan HS, Clovis, CA

"I genuinely appreciate all the materials and speakers. Dirksen Center’s Congress in the Classroom® is an amazing platform for teachers and it will change the way you teach." Frank Shearrow, Wiregrass Ranch HS, Wesley Chapel, FL

"The program exceeded my expectations. Each presenter was quick to present a fresh perspective and new material which will change my presentations and instruction on our government. I have been revitalized. Thanks so much for the experience."
Leigh Sullivan, Greene County Tech, Paragould, AR

"Congress in the Classroom® provided a tremendous amount of in-depth insight into a topic that I use to not only instill institutional understanding, but also to inspire leadership ambitions among my students. The conference did the same for me!"
Shanna Shipman, Limestone Community High School, Bartonville, IL

"This was a fantastic opportunity to be exposed to such quality speakers. It served to re-energize me as an educator and sparked new, creative ways for me to engage my students in the teaching of Congress."
Joan Moore, St. Joseph School, Pekin, IL

"Thank you for allowing me to attend. This conference will raise the level of my teaching for my students. I will also be able to share all of this information with fellow teachers. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!"
Tammy Ripley, Morristown West High School, Morristown, TN

Session Titles, 2013

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 Library’s 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.

Thomas.gov Reinvented as Congress.gov
Cindy Rich, Teaching with Primary Sources, Eastern Illinois University

Learn about the features of the new Web site, Congress.gov, and explore classroom applications.

Fantasy Congress: Adapting Fantasy Football to the People’s 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 Historian’s 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 that’s 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 Dirksen Congressional Center’s 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 don’t 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 that 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 members 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!"

Selected Presentations, 2012

What follows are links to presentations by speakers at Congress in the Classroom 2012:

Using Fantasy Congress to Engage My Students -- Power Point Presentation -- Handout
Jennifer Hora, Department of Political Science, Valparaiso University

Professor Hora hails from the only state to feature cheese on its state quarter. She attended college at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire before traveling south to North Carolina. While at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she earned her Masters and Ph.D. in political science as well as a new appreciation for college basketball. She has taught at Valparaiso since fall 2006. Dr. Hora teaches courses in American politics, the presidency, Congress, public policy, public administration and state and local government.

Six Promising Approaches to Civic Education -- Power Point Presentation
Shawn P. Healy, Chair, Illinois Civic Mission Coalition and Resident Scholar and Director of Professional Development, McCormick Foundation Civics Program

Shawn is the resident scholar and director of professional development for the Robert R. McCormick Foundation Civics Program. Healy makes regular appearances as a guest speaker and panelist at academic and professional development conferences across the country, teaches summer graduate courses and spring and fall teacher seminars, produces original scholarship in the area of political communication and civic education, and his commentary is featured regularly in the Huffington Post, Chicago Tribune, and local broadcast media. He holds an MA from the University of Illinois at Chicago in political science and earned a bachelor's degree with distinction in Political Science, History and Secondary Educations from the University of WI. He is currently a doctoral candidate within the Political Science Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago specializing in political socialization. He currently teaches an undergraduate course at UIC on the U.S. Congress.

Selected Presentations, 2011

What follows are links to presentations by speakers at Congress in the Classroom 2011:

What is Most Important to Teach about Congress? -- MS Word Document
Frank Mackaman, The Dirksen Congressional Center

The Impact of Congressional Redistricting on the 2012 Elections -- Adobe PDF Presentation
Peter Wielhouwer, Department of Political Science, Western Michigan University

Using Fantasy Congress to Engage My Students -- Power Point Presentation
Scott Corner, Government and Politics Teacher, Palma High School, Salinas, CA

Listen Up Legislators: How to Get Your Point Across -- Power Point Presentation
Stephanie Vance, the Advocacy Guru, Washington, DC

New Approaches to Teaching About Congress -- Power Point Presentation
Paul C. Milazzo, Department of History, Ohio University

Leadership in the House During the 112th Congress -- Power Point Presentation
Bryan Marshall, Department of Political Science, Miami University of Ohio

Selected Presentations, 2010

What follows are links to presentations by speakers at Congress in the Classroom 2010:

Leadership in the House During the 111th Congress-- Power Point Presentation
Bryan Marshall, Department of Political Science, Miami University of Ohio

Associate Professor of Political Science at Miami University of Ohio, Bryan Marshall received his PhD from Michigan State University in 1999. He teaches courses on Congress, the presidency, research methods, and U.S. foreign policy. During 2009, Marshall was the American Political Science Association's Steiger Congressional Fellow serving the House Majority Whip, James E. Clyburn (D-SC). Marshall's research focuses on party leaders and procedures in affecting coalition-building and congressional behavior.

The Most Important "Things" to Teach About Congress
Teachers, Congress in the Classroom® 2010

Can Congress Ever Be Popular? -- Power Point Presentation
Elizabeth Theiss-Morse, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Professor of Political Science and Chair of the Department

Professor of Political Science and chair of the department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Elizabeth Theiss-Morse focuses her research on understanding American public opinion and how it relates to various aspects of democracy, including support for civil liberties, Congress, democratic processes, and the American people as a national group. She is the author or co-author of four Cambridge University Press books, including Congress as a Public Enemy, winner of the Fenno Prize for the best book on legislative politics in 1995. She has received five National Science Foundation grants and is the winner of a distinguished teaching award.

A Journalist's Take on Congress -- MSWord Document
David Lightman, McClatchy Washington Bureau

David Lightman was the Hartford Courant's Washington Bureau Chief for 23 years before joining the McClatchy Washington Bureau in 2009. The McClatchy Company is the third-largest newspaper company in the United States and a leading newspaper and Internet publisher. Lightman has covered every presidential campaign since 1980 and has won the David Lynch Award for outstanding regional reporting in Washington. From 1971 to 1981 he worked for the Baltimore Evening Sun. He joined the Courant in 1981 as a reporter.

How Fantasy Football Saved Congress: Active Learning Through a Congressional Drafting Game -- Power Point Presentation
Dr. Jennifer Hora, Professor, Valparaiso

Professor Hora hails from the only state to feature cheese on its state quarter. She attended college at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire before traveling south to North Carolina. While at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she earned her Masters and Ph.D. in political science as well as a new appreciation for college basketball. She has taught at Valparaiso since fall 2006. Dr. Hora teaches courses in American politics, the presidency, Congress, public policy, public administration and state and local government.

Selected Presentations, 2009

What follows are links to presentations by speakers at Congress in the Classroom 2009:

The Ten Most Important Things to Know About the U.S. Senate
Betty K. Koed, Associate Historian, United States Senate Historical Office

Among the myriad topics related to understanding the U.S. Senate, Betty K. Koed, Associate Historian, United States Senate Historical Office, offers her version of the ten most important facts or observations about the "upper house." Serving as the Senate's institutional memory, the Historical Office collects and provides information on important events, precedents, dates, statistics, and historical comparisons of current and past Senate activities.

The Ten (Really Twelve) Most Important Things to Know about the House of Representatives
Ray Smock, Director of the Robert C. Byrd Center for Legislative Studies, Shephard University, Shepherdstown, WV

Ray Smock, the director of the Robert C. Byrd Center for Legislative Studies at Shepherd University, Shepherdstown, WV, served as Historian of the U. S. House of Representatives, 1983-95. His list identifies the distinguishing characteristics of the House

Selected Presentations, 2007

What follows are links to presentations by speakers at Congress in the Classroom 2007:

Rules, Rules, Rules: Congress Relies on Them -- MS Word Remarks, MS Word Appendices
Don Wolfensberger, Director of the Congress Project, Woodrow Wilson Center

A nationally known expert on the rules which govern the House of Representatives, Wolfensberger will examine how the Democrats have changed the way the House operates now that they have the majority.

How to Get Your Point Across to Congress Members -- Power Point Presentation
Stephanie Vance, Advocacy Associates

How do you break through the "noise" to communicate with a member of Congress? Ms. Vance has the answers. She advises clients on how to reach Congress people effectively by understanding how congressional offices function and process information. She will introduce her online advocacy course - something you can use even after the workshop ends.

Electoral College Strategy 2008 -- Power Point Presentation
Thomas F. Schaller, Professor of Political Science, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Although the next presidential election is more than a year away, presidential candidates are already developing their strategy for winning around the Electoral College, not the popular vote. What must the candidates do to prevail in the Electoral College vote?

What Every New Senator Should Know about the U.S. Senate -- Power Point Presentation
Richard A. Baker, Historian, U.S. Senate Historical Office

Senate Historian Baker has written The New Members’ Guide to Traditions of the United States Senate which serves as an orientation to the traditions and precedents of the Senate. It is a must read for newly elected Senators and covers such topics as seniority, Senate furniture, Senate decorum, and the Floor Leaders’ right of prior recognition among many others.

Questions?

Contact:
Lynn Kasinger
The Dirksen Congressional Center
2815 Broadway
Pekin, IL 61554
Phone: 309.347.7113
Fax: 309.347.6432
lkasinger@dirksencenter.org


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Academic Support Close Up Foundation Congress in the Classroom®
Congress in the Classroom® Online Publications Web Suite

After 22 years, it appears that our summer workshop for social studies teachers has run its course. Declining teacher interest combined with rising costs has resulted in a decision to suspend the program indefinitely.

Thanks to all those past participants and presenters!


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