Real-World Policy in Your Classroom

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.


Today’s Vote in the Classroom provides two-day lessons that ask students to take on the role of U.S. Senators, debate issues, and cast their votes on real bills that have been introduced to Congress.

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Lesson Overview

Today’s Vote in the Classroom is made up of four key parts. Sequenced instructions, a full lesson-plan download, editable worksheets, and classroom presentations will guide you and your students through the program.

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Explore the Issue

The resources in this section support a broad overview of a policy area. Students will use the Explore the Issue handout to learn key background information. Then in small groups, students will use the Bill-Building Conversation Worksheet to create a potential new law in the policy area the class is working on. Links to additional resources provide context from stakeholders.

Create a Senate Profile

In this section, the simulation begins. Students will complete the Senate Profile Table Tent to transition into their new roles as United States Senators. Students research the state and party they are choosing to represent in the debate, take the Senate Oath of Office, and learn the key rules of Senate Decorum.

Preview the Bill

In this section, students consider a real bill from a Senator’s perspective. Use the Bill Preview Handout to help students dig into policy details: what would this bill do? Who does it affect? Based on what they’ve learned, will your students decide to support or oppose the bill at hand?

Deliberate and Vote

In this section, you’ll find leveled versions of speeches that support and oppose the bill, taken from real U.S. Senators working in Congress. You’ll select two students to read these speeches, modeling the beginning of a Senate debate. Open the floor for more speeches from other Senators, facilitate debate, and then call for a vote.