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National Standards:

National Council for the Social Studies http://www.socialstudies.org/standards/toc.html

  • Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of how people create and change structures of power, authority, and governance. (NCSS Standard #6)
  • Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of the ideals, principles, and practices of citizenship in a democratic republic. (NCSS Standard #10)

Local Standards:

  • understand that laws are made to benefit people in a community
  • understand appropriate consequences for breaking laws in a community


    • write for different purposes and audiences (journal and "bill")
    • evaluate the significance of classroom problems
    • work in cooperative groups for revising
    • communicate information orally
    • analyze, interpret, and judge information in listening and writing

Teacher Information:

Following a discussion of A RIVER RAN WILD (Cherry) and SONG OF THE TREES (Taylor), the students will identify problems that affect members of the classroom community. They will keep a journal for one week in which they will write about what they see as problems. The teacher may give prompts and suggestions for journal topics. They will then identify the three biggest problems in priority order. Each child will be assigned the role of "senator" or "representative" and will write a "bill" to address the biggest of the three problems that they identified. Each bill will include the proposed law, an explanation of the reasons for the law, and the consequence(s) for breaking the law. The teacher will group the proposed bills by topic and create a "committee" for each topic. Bills will be discussed and revised in "committees" or cooperative groups. Finally, the students will discuss and vote on the revised bills in the Third Grade Congress. Bills that pass the Congress will then be signed or vetoed by the "President" or teacher. Any successful laws will become classroom rules.


We have been learning about how communities create laws to solve problems and how a bill becomes a law. You will now have the chance to solve a problem in our community by writing a law of your own.

Student Task:

You must keep a journal for a week, describing the problems that you see in our community. Then you will think of a way to solve the most important problem with a new law. You will write a bill that will be voted on by the Third Grade Congress.


  1. Read the scoring guide for the Third Grade Congress Performance Task.
  2. For one week, write a journal entry each day about problems that you notice in our classroom community. Describe what the problems are, why you think they are problems, and how you think we could solve them to make the community better.
  3. At the end of the week, read your journal. List the three biggest problems in order with the worst one first. Think of a law that would solve the biggest problem.
  4. Write a bill to propose your law. Use the "Official Bill" form provided by your teacher.
  5. Meet with a committee to revise the laws. You may need to combine several similar bills into one bill.
  6. Participate in the Third Grade Congress.


This performance task was originally used in a third grade classroom. However, it could be adapted for older students. It could also be used as the basis for a schoolwide program for student government.

Scoring Guide:

4 Student chooses a law that fits the important needs of the community, solves a problem, and/or makes the whole community better. Student gives at least two clear reasons why the law is needed. Student gives a consequence that clearly fits the law (not too harsh or too light).
3 Student chooses a law that fits a need of the classroom but may not solve a problem or make the whole community better. Student gives at least one reason why the law is needed. Student gives consequences that are too harsh or too light to be completely appropriate.
2 Student chooses a law that does not fit the needs of the community or solve any problems. Student gives a reason for the law, but it is not clearly explained or does not make sense for the community. Student gives consequences that do not fit the law.
1 Student chooses a law that does not make sense for the needs of the community or creates a problem. Student does not give reasons for the law. Consequences are unrealistic or completely inappropriate.

Classroom Community Third Grade Congress

Official Bill

Senate Bill #_____

I, ____________________, a Third Grade Senator, propose the following law:


Reason for the law:


If this law were broken, the consequence would be:

Proposed by:

__________________________ on ________________________
  Third Grade Senator                           Date
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