Vermont Votes for Kids: A project of the Vermont Secretary of State
9-12 Curriculum, Teacher Materials for Lesson 6:
Making Your Point, Asking Your Question
"I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; I will not refuse to do the something I can do."
"Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can make a difference; indeed, it is the only thing that has."
Casting an informed vote is one key ingredient of maintaining our democracy. There is yet another. There are those times when a citizen needs to ask a question of, or express an opinion to, an elected official. This activity will help facilitate student efforts to keep connected with those who represent them in government so that collectively we can have the "consent of the governed" envisioned in the Declaration of Independence. We must do our part AFTER the election, too. One of the most common regrets expressed by elected officials, at all levels, is that their constituents, those they represent, do not regularly convey their wishes or opinions.
Students will need access to the Internet. You will need to reproduce enough copies of the lesson for each student and decide if they are to do this as an individual assignment or a collaborative one. There is an optional assignment at the end of this lesson.
Student Lesson Six will:
You should explain to students the meaning of two terms on their lesson, "constituent" and "body politic." The first refers to a person represented by an elected official. The second comes from the Mayflower Compact, 1620 ("...combine ourselves together into a civil body politic, for our better ordering and preservation...") referring to forming a government.
A final activity listed below is an option for you to consider. It is not addressed on Student Lesson Six so you would need to explain the directions. It is designed to apply the theme of this lesson and the knowledge gained through it. Specifically, it tasks students to communicate with an elected official on an issue of their choice. They can then apply their citizenship, contact information, communication and writing skills in one activity.
Suggested parameters for this solo activity are as follows:
Emphasize that you will be sending the letters upon their completion; this helps to provide the catalyst for student "buy in" to the need for substance and quality in their communication with their officials.
You may also want to extend the option of writing a "Letter to the Editor" for a local newspaper in lieu of writing to an official. The same parameters would apply but direct them instead to apply the suggestions under "Writing to newspapers" listed in the student activity sheet.
Vermont Secretary of State Deb Markowitz: http://www.vermontvotesforkids.com