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Comparing Author's Text of 19th and 21st Century Legislation and Rewriting the Bill in their own Words

Lesson Overview

Overview: After a discussion on the legislative process for drafting and approving legislation, students will receive a copy of two bills focusing on education. The first bill is a U.S. House of Representatives Bill from 1870; the second is a Senate Bill from 2011. The students will analyze two documents guided by a Written Document Analysis form. From there, students will do a comparison of the language and style of the bill and
provide a written analysis that compares and contrasts the style of writing of the two authors. Students will then be asked to incorporate key ideas from the two documents and rewrite the two bills in their own words that will lead to passage.
Grade Level: 6-8

After completing the lesson in this unit, students will be able to:

  • Understand author's style when creating a bill for State or Federal Law.
  • Compare and contrast author's style of writing and point of view.
  • Develop knowledge of key components required for federal legislation.
  • Understand how the writing of a bill is important for the passage of a bill.
Time Required: Two class periods of 45 minutes.
Discipline/Subject: Social Studies
Topic/Subject: Government, Law
Era: Civil War and Reconstruction, 1861-1877



Illinois Learning Standards:  
  Common Core Standards for Language Arts and Literacy History/Social Studies,Science, and Technical Studies. Reading Standards for Informational Text 6–12, Grade 7
2. Determine two or more central ideas in a text and analyze their development over the course of the text; provide an objective summary of the text.
3. Analyze the interactions between individuals, events, and ideas in a text (e.g., how ideas influence individuals or events, or how individuals influence ideas or events).
4. Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone.
9. Analyze how two or more authors writing about the same topic shape their presentations of key information by emphasizing different evidence or advancing different interpretations of facts.




Handouts: LOC items House Bill 1326 and Senate Bill 280
Analysis Tools: Written Document Analysis
Library of Congress Items: Title of Source:House Bill 1326
  Title of Source:Senate Bill 280



1. Teacher will discuss the process legislator's use when creating a bill. Teacher will explain the writing style and author style. Also how political affiliations can affect the different styles.
2. Students will receive a copy of H.R.1326 and S.280 (Bill S.280 is available in pdf from link in materials).
3. Teacher will re-teach the procedures for using a Written Document Analysis. Then students will receive two copies of the Written Document Analysis.
4. Students will be given 15 minutes to read through the two bills.
5. Once the class has read through the bills they will be placed into groups of three (class of 26, each student will be numbered off 1-8).
6. Each group will be given five minutes to discuss the Written Document analysis for the two bills, then individually complete the Written Document Analysis.
7. Individual students write a two paragraph grammatically correct essay, describing how the documents are similar and how they are different. Students will address the author's "style" as discussed earlier in class. (Writing style associated with politically affiliations and geographical affiliations). Students will be given 10 minutes to complete the essay.
8. Students must turn in the essay before the end of the class period. Essay will be evaluated using a teacher-created points-based rubric.
9. Students will move back into their previous groups of three. Student groups will draft their own copy of a bill using content from the two documents read in class. The bill will be written in language that would be understood and passed by current 7th grade in Illinois. Students will be given 15 minutes to draft bill and appoint a representative to eventually present the bill to the class.
10. Presentations will be given on Day 2 of lesson plan.
11. Groups will present using their group representative appointed in the previous class day. Groups will be given 4-5 minutes for their presentation of the group-created bill.
12. Groups will use peer-evaluations to assess group member's work. Teacher will use a points-based rubric to grade group presentation as well as using the peer evaluations in the rubric.



Informal: Peer evaluations used to group work. Group creation of the bill used for participation credit.

Formal: Points-based rubric to evaluate the essay with the Written Document Analysis.  Rubric will incorporate grammar, correct assessment of author's writing style, proper use of the Written Document Analysis. Points-based rubric to evaluate the group presentation. Rubric will incorporate peer evaluation, participation of group to create bill, preparedness, and group recognition of time (4-5 minute presentation)


An extension for this activity would be to invite State Senator Kyle McCarter to present to the seventh grade class discussing how a bill becomes a law in the state of Illinois and how the author of the bill's writing style and political philosophies and beliefs are incorporated within the bill.

Author Credits:
J. Callandrilla
Sullivan Middle School