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Classroom Activity

"Tracking A Legislator"

Laurel A. Richie, Rocky Hill H.S.

Click Here for the Word Document version of this page.


Content: Students will track a member of the CT legislature whose political life and choices during the course of the semester, or other teacher selected period, provide the opportunity for students to gain greater civic literacy and understanding through in-depth, multi-perspective analysis.

Materials Needed: 

  • Copies for class of project outline, details and deadlines
  • Copies for class of rubric or criteria for grading
  • Current listing of representatives and senators by district found at CT-N 
  • Access to databases (ex. iConn.org)

Class Time: This is a long-term assignment designed to be completed over the course of the spring semester coinciding with the General Assembly Session.

Objectives: Students will: research, evaluate differing viewpoints, analyze, draw conclusions, and demonstrate an overall understanding of the many factors that influence a given legislator and his/her political decisions.


  • Each student will select a member of the current Connecticut State Legislature to concentrate on for his/her semester project. This project combines both analysis and policy definition.
  • All project components are indicated below; teachers must make deadline determinations according to school calendars. All dates suggested here are examples.
    February 5 1. Select a Legislative member.
    2. Begin log of legislator's activities, including bills sponsored, co-sponsored, public appearances, speeches, articles, time spent at the Capitol versus in his/her district. A complete log of the events, decisions, policy initiatives, etc. should be created by the end of this project. Students should be adding to log daily.
    February 8 3. Letter to legislator explaining project and requesting
    any/all resources and insight s/he can provide along with the latest date information can be received and still be useful. Depending on teacher's interests and goals, students could also email their letters, maintaining proper business letter format.
    February 12 4. Completed background of the legislator - qualifications, education, etc.
    February 16 5. Overview of legislator's job, the responsibilities of that position, committees s/he serves on, his/her position with on them, the significance of this/these position for the legislator and the State.
    February 26 6. Reflective letter analyzing progress
    February 27 7. Demographic study of the legislator's district including: What is the make-up of the district s/he represents? What are their major concerns? What groups support him/her? Oppose? Why?
    March 5 8. Analysis of three different views of this legislator as presented in the print media. Copies of articles and proper bibliographical citations should be included for teacher use. Analysis should also consider what the legislator is making news for, and the kind of coverage s/he is receiving both in State and his/her district specifically.
    March 12 9. Identification of major figures with whom the legislator will inevitably have to interact, their positions and the relative importance of a good working relationship with each.
    March 30 10. Reflective letter analyzing progress.
    April 2 11. Unbiased analysis of the legislative action taken by the Representative or Senator during the logged time period, including the types of legislation generally supported and opposed, bills sponsored, areas s/he is most concerned with and s/he reasoning for these positions.
    May 11 12. Evaluation of how legislator is handling his/her job at the end of the logged period. This evaluation requires reference to a variety of sources showing how others feel about this question before students give their own evaluation. Furthermore, the overall evaluation must illustrate a thorough understanding of the nature of the legislator's job, the issues s/he is faced with, and the present status of these issues/bills/concerns.
    May 17 13. Complete semester project assembled for submission, including a final reflective letter suggesting a grade and providing evidence for it.
  • Essential Questions:
    1. Will a politician's schedule, when tracked over a given period of time, reveal his/her priorities?
    2. What role does bias play in the public arena?
    3. What is expected of an American citizen by the Constitution?
    4. Does where you live matter?
  • Suggested Assessment: Have students assemble their materials in a separate three ring binder of appropriate size. Collecting two complete copies is recommended; one to return to the student with corrections and evaluation, the other for teacher files.
    1. Cover page with title/topic, name, class & date.
    2. Table of Contents.
    3. Final reflective letter followed by other two.
    4. Background of the legislator.
    5. Overview of legislator's job.
    6. Demographic study of the legislator's district.
    7. Identification of major figures with whom the legislator will interact.
    8. Unbiased analysis of the legislative action taken by the Representative or Senator.
    9. Log of time period required
    10. Evaluation of how legislator is handling his/her job at the end of the logged period.
    11. Three views of legislator - both articles and analysis.
    12. Letter to appointee.
    13. Rough draft of all of sections handed in as earlier deadlines in order submitted.
    14. Complete Bibliography.
  • Grading Criteria breakdown:
    • On time: (25pts deduction/day if not)
    • Two complete copies: (100pt deduction if not)
    • Check list of all items included: (14 pts or 1 pt each) (25 point deduction if not in requested order)
    • Revisions and updates: 50 pts
    • Evaluation of legislator: 100 pts
    • Writing rubric score: 50 pts (See below)
    • Completeness of presentation/evaluation: 50 pts
    • Log: 100 pts
    • Overall presentation: 50 pts
    • Bibliography & citations: 75 pts
    • Total = 389 pts
  • Notes to Teacher:
    1. Current information on the legislature is available at: www.cga.ct.gov This site also contains a listing of bills, calendars, journals, committees, and numerous other helpful links.
    2. The League of Women Voters of Connecticut Education fund site is another source, located at http://www.lwvct.org/
    3. This project could be modified by allowing students to choose from members of the State executive or Judicial branches as well as the legislative.
    4. For each item included in the project, it is expected that teachers win make corrections and suggestions, guiding students to complete a thorough, thoughtful project. These rough drafts are included in the final portfolio compilation for ease in comparison and grading.
    5. Reflective letter should be genuinely that. Provide guiding questions that encourage students to sincerely and thoughtfully evaluate their work.
  • Possible Modifications and Enhancements:
    1. Have students make an oral presentation to the audience of choice regarding their legislator. This is a great way to involve a parent audience and expand civic awareness at the same time.
    2. Divide class based on where their individual legislators stand on a specific issue/bill; research this particular topic and hold a mock legislative session or debate.
    3. Enhance student data collection by having them conduct a survey of their legislator's constituents. This offers the opportunity to teach the concepts such as margin of error, and effective questioning.
    4. For high school students, add an additional component that requires students to research another US legislative district similar to the Connecticut one they are .studying, and make a thorough comparison between the two.
    5. Instead of tracking a legislator, have each student track a specific piece of legislation or a current domestic issue. Below please find a listing of possible current issues for student study; it is recommended that items be added or deleted based on the particular student body, current hot topics, etcetera.
    6. Multiple classes could be combined for a final "Mock Legislature" with each student representing the district & representative s/he researched. This could also be expanded to include work with other schools.
    7. Hold a celebratory event, including refreshments and informal discussion time, in which students share their finding with a parent, administrator, community leader or audience.
  • Enduring Understandings:
    • Political life is not limited to those who hold office.
    • The American democratic republic is predicated on the active, educated participation of its citizenry at all levels.
    • Seemingly isolated decisions have widespread impact.
  • Domestic Issues:
    Juvenile justice system 
    Federal power v. individual rights
    Internet regulations
    Sheff v. O’Neill
    Violence in schools
    Puerto Rico and statehood
    Standardized testing
    Medicare/Medicaid reform
    Taxes/ IRS
    Death penalty
    Jury system
    Bilingual education
    Character as criteria/consideration in election of public officials 
    Legalization of drugs
    Law enforcement and justice in conflict
    Media role and responsibility
    Bilingual education
    Sexual harassment 
    Marijuana use in medical field
    Drugs and trafficking (internal) 
    Budget deficit 
    Gun control
    Email privacy matters
    Student rights in schools 
    Tobacco reform
    School prayer/freedom of religion issues
    Right to die/doctor assisted suicide
    Environmental issues
    Healthcare/ reform
    Minimum wage
    Education/ reform
    Social Security/ reform Crime Homosexual rights
    Welfare/ reform
    Immigration/ Proposition 187
    Term limits
    Hate groups
    Pending amendments 
    Rights of resident aliens 
    Judicial restraint v. judicial activism
    Campaign finance reform Accommodation of linguistic minorities
    Separation of powers States' rights & federalism
    Individual rights v. the common good
    Genetic engineering
    Biomedical ethics
    Family/sexual violence Media violence
    Homelessness Discrimination
    Native American rights
    Tribal Sovereignty
    Urban terrorism Women in the military
    Adoption Prescription drug costs
    Anti-trust action


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