Bring the Legislative Process Into Your Classroom With Virtual Senate Simulations

Because it’s one thing to learn history, it’s another to live it.

virtual senate simulations

Brought to you by The Edward M. Kennedy Institute

The Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate is excited to offer Today's Vote in the Classroom, a curriculum resource to help teachers simulate the legislative process and examine real legislation in their middle and high school classrooms.

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Our students love the opportunity to connect what they’re learning to real-world events. It’s especially powerful when students learn about what’s happening in their community, country, and world and what they can do about it. We can empower students with project- and problem-based learning opportunities.

If you are a middle or high school teacher, you’ll want to check out Today’s Vote in the Classroom. In this brand-new (and free!) virtual simulation, students take on the role of U.S. senators to debate real legislation.

We can’t think of a more important time for students to learn about how our government works and the power of their vote. Here’s how it works:

Put students in a real senator’s shoes to teach how government works.

With Today’s Vote, we can use real legislation to help students experience and understand how our government works. When we put students in a senator’s shoes and ask them to debate and vote on real issues that are affecting American citizens right now, they learn through real-world experience. Because the stakes are so high, students will understand the importance of the legislative process and the power of their vote.

The Student Experience 

Choose a real bill from our topics library.

  • Topics include climate change, Confederate memorials, voting rights restoration, minimum wage, and assault weapons.
  • We love the supporting resources, which include a Bill Preview, Explore the Issue, and the Bill Building conversation handout. Use these to help students read and understand the topic.

Swear in your class of senators.

  • Students role-play being senators. They even get to take the oath of office!
  • Students research their state and party so they can debate and discuss the bill from from their senator’s perspective.

Decide what’s best for the country.

  • Students work in small groups to discuss the issues.
  • Open the floor for final debate.
  • Vote! Then wrap up with a reflection activity.

The Teacher Experience

  • Flexible full-length and sequenced lesson plans are designed for in-person, online, or hybrid learning.
  • Classroom presentations, editable worksheets (digital and print), and differentiated resources aligned to Common Core Standards are all here.
  • Use the teacher tips and guide.

Here’s what teachers are saying:

“My students love the Today’s Vote curriculum because it allows them to engage in the actual work of crafting and debating policy in the classroom,” said Glen Fant, U.S. History, Modern World History, and AP Government teacher at Arlington High School in MA. “The materials provide scaffolding to help to build their confidence in research, public speaking, and negotiation, all while understanding the importance of hearing other viewpoints. I am very excited to use the new online resource and activities this year in my remote classroom.”

Interested in this virtual Senate simulation? Click below to learn more.

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Bring the Legislative Process Into Your Classroom With Virtual Senate Simulations

Posted by Julie Mason

Julie Mason is a Senior Editor at WeAreTeachers. She taught middle and high school English, and is a blended and personalized learning instructional coach. She loves reading a book in one sitting, good coffee, and spending time with her husband and sons.

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