[WSCSS] Communicator Update: June 2009

Cindy Koeppel ckoeppel at dirksencenter.org
Wed Jul 1 12:13:23 EDT 2009


 Welcome to The Dirksen Congressional Center's Communicator-a web-based e-newsletter providing educators with news and ideas to improve the understanding of Congress: http://www.webcommunicator.org 


1) People Who Served in Congress 
2) Congress Defined 
3) *New* Congress for Kids Redesign Complete! 
4) *New* Lesson Plan: Knowledge is Power 
5) *New* Editorial Cartoons 
6) New Dirksen Center Board of Directors 
7) *New* Public Criticisms Of Congress & Trivia 
8) Postscript Information 

Sketches of famous and not-so-famous Senators and Representatives  

William Morris Stewart (1827-1909) The first of 21 senators who have changed parties since 1890. A Senator from Nevada; born in Galen, near Lyons, Wayne County, N.Y., August 9, 1827; moved with his parents to Mesopotamia Township, Trumbull County, Ohio; attended Lyons Union School and West Farmington Academy; teacher of mathematics at Lyons Union School; attended Yale College 1849-1850; moved to San Francisco, Calif., in 1850 and engaged in gold mining in Nevada County; studied law; admitted to the bar in 1852 and commenced practice in Nevada City, Calif.; district attorney 1852; attorney general of California 1854; moved to Virginia City, Nev., in 1860; involved in early mining litigation and in the development of the Comstock lode; member, Territorial council 1861; member of the State constitutional convention in 1863; upon the admission of Nevada as a State into the Union was elected as a Republican to the United States Senate in 1864; took oath of office on February 1, 1865; reelected in 1869, and served until March 3, 1875; did not seek reelection; chairman, Committee on Pacific Railroads (Forty-second Congress), Committee on Railroads (Forty-third Congress); resumed the practice of law in Nevada and California; again elected as a Republican to the United States Senate in 1887; reelected in 1893 and 1899, as a Silver Republican, and served from March 4, 1887, to March 3, 1905; chairman, Committee on Mines and Mining (Fiftieth through Fifty-sixth Congresses), Committee on Indian Affairs (Fifty-seventh and Fifty-eighth Congresses); declined to be a candidate for reelection in 1905; died in Washington, D.C., April 23, 1909; remains were cremated and the ashes deposited in Laurel Hill Cemetery, San Francisco, Calif.; remains removed and deposited in unknown location. 


Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress:  http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=S000922 

U.S. Senate web site: 

African-Americans in Congress:  Josiah Thomas Walls (1842-1905).  A Representative from Florida; born in Winchester, Frederick County, Va., December 30, 1842; received a limited schooling; engaged in truck farming; moved to Florida; delegate to the State constitutional convention in 1868; served in the State senate 1869-1872; presented credentials as a Member-elect to the Forty-second Congress and served from March 4, 1871, to January 29, 1873, when he was succeeded by Silas L. Niblack, who contested his election; elected as a Republican to the Forty-third Congress (March 4, 1873-March 3, 1875); presented credentials as a Member-elect to the Forty-fourth Congress and served from March 4, 1875, to April 19, 1876, when he was succeeded by Jesse J. Finley, who contested his election; resumed his occupation as truck farmer; died in Tallahassee, Fla., May 15, 1905; interment in the Negro Cemetery.

Black Americans in Congress:   http://baic.house.gov/member-profiles/profile.html?intID=17  

Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress:  http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=W000093 
Women in Congress:  Pearl Oldfield (1876-1962).  (wife of William Allan Oldfield), a Representative from Arkansas; born in Cotton Plant, Woodruff County, Ark., on December 2, 1876; educated in the public schools and at Arkansas College, Batesville, Ark.; elected January 9, 1929, as a Democrat to fill the vacancy in both the Seventieth and Seventy-first Congresses caused by the death of her husband William A. Oldfield, who had been reelected in 1928, and served from January 9, 1929, to March 3, 1931; was not a candidate for renomination in 1930; died in Washington, D.C., April 12, 1962; interment in Oaklawn Cemetery, Batesville, Ark. During her tenure, Oldfield sought to remedy the threats that natural disaster and economic depression posed to the welfare of her rural Arkansas constituents. She left Congress after little more than one term, content to retire "to the sphere in which I believe women belong-the home." 


Women in Congress:   http://womenincongress.house.gov/profiles/index.html  

Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress:  http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=O000061

Words and phrases that describe congressional processes 

Hold at the Desk. Each House sometimes orders a measure received from the other to be "held at the desk" rather than referred to a committee or placed on a calendar. A measure being held at the desk is available to be called up for consideration by unanimous consent, especially for purposes of accomplishing a "hookup" with a measure of the receiving chamber in preparation for going to conference. 


Congressional Quarterly's American Congressional Dictionary, 3rd edition (2001):116.


We recently completed a redesign of our site for kids, Congress for Kids.  Besides improving the overall look and functionality of the site, we developed a new interactive "Citizenship" thread that will help teachers teach about, and students better understand, citizenship.  
Our goal for this new thread is to help students develop a strong commitment to lifelong involvement in their communities and encourage them to pursue agendas that lead to a stronger social foundation. 

The citizenship thread addresses individual responsibilities in three areas: (1) obedience to law, (2) the exercise of free choice, and (3) the importance of social responsibility that lies between. This thread includes text and interactive activities that can be approached in a simple or complex way; they can be easily modified for use at various grade levels, fourth through ninth grade, but possibly even higher. 

Most of the activities are designed to encourage group discussion in the classroom and help students gain knowledge as they discover their own views and examine them for various perspectives. We don't want the citizenship thread to "tell" the students what constitutes good or responsible citizenship. We believe these activities will help teachers draw out students' attitudes and values through debate, role-play, and discussion. 

Congress for Kids will look much different to you. We incorporated a new for of technology developing interactive worksheets that can be completed online, saved and printed, or emailed to a teacher.  We have also added new online games, quizzes, puzzles, and much more.
Each page of the site includes "Surf with Uncle Sam." This is an area that includes many different links to external sites where students can find additional information and activities related to the topics discussed on each page. Students are not required to refer to these sites, but they will offer another avenue of educational fun for them. 

Every page also includes "Word Spy." Uncle Sam, the word spy, tests students' knowledge of the subject matter and understanding of the page's key concepts.  Students will match the word(s) in the left-hand column to complete the questions or statements in the right-hand column. When finished they can check their answers for accuracy.

We have also added links to book titles related to each page for students. In the future, we hope to add a "Student Reading Club" where students can post book reviews, explaining how a reading applies to or helps them in the classroom, directly on the web site in the appropriate sections.
Another new section of the site, "Things to Think About," includes two or three questions related to each page of the site that will hopefully stimulate more thinking, research, and discussion among students and teachers. For example, the page about Democracy might include this question:  "Why is freedom of speech essential to a democracy?"

We received several ideas from teachers to help create another new section, "Projects You Can Do." This section includes one or two suggested projects related to each page. For example, the page about the Amendments to the Constitution might include these ideas:  "Use the Internet or your public library to 1) find a copy of amendments eleven through twenty-seven, or  2) which amendments deal with the procedures of the government?, or  3) which guarantee civil rights?"

Online learning represents an exciting new way to structure and guide student research efforts. Many of the activities included in Congress for Kids focuses on higher-level thinking. We have added a section on each page of the site, for example, "Online Learning Module," which includes links to research modules to help serve as another effective way of addressing the most challenging new educational standards.

We hope our site redesign offers the graphic appeal, functionality, and content that will help students understand the federal government and the responsibilities of citizenship.

Take a look and let us know what you think - http://www.congressforkids.net 

We value your feedback!


During our annual Congress in the Classroom® workshop -- http://www.dirksencenter.org/print_programs_CongressClassroom.htm -- participants are asked to introduce the lesson plans, resources, and techniques that have proven successful in teaching about Congress in their classrooms.  A 2005 participant, Pat Usher, Carl Sandburg High School, Orland Park, IL, presented a lesson entitled, Knowledge is Power.

This activity kicks off a mock Congress activity by forming committees and demonstrating the importance of knowledge as power. Students will be introduced to the concept of "seniority," too.

Find Knowledge is Power at: http://www.congresslink.org/print_lp_knowledgeispower.htm


The Dirksen Congressional Center recently announced additions to the Editorial Cartoon Collection project: http://www.congresslink.org/cartoons/index.htm.

The editorial cartoons and related lesson plans will teach students to identify issues, analyze symbols, acknowledge the need for background knowledge, recognize stereotypes and caricatures, think critically, and appreciate the role of irony and humor.

This month we have posted five new cartoons: 

Caption: Getting Ready for the Republican National Convention
http://www.congresslink.org/cartoons/chron21-30.htm #26

Caption: "Ev and Charlie Show"
http://www.congresslink.org/cartoons/chron31-40.htm  #34

Caption: Republican National Convention
http://www.congresslink.org/cartoons/chron21-30.htm #27
Caption: Republican National Convention
http://www.congresslink.org/cartoons/chron21-30.htm #28

Caption: Republican National Convention
http://www.congresslink.org/cartoons/chron21-30.htm #29 

We now have a total of 79 cartoons posted!


On June 5, 2009, The Dirksen Center held its Annual Meeting of the Board of Directors of the Everett McKinley Dirksen Endowment Fund.  The Executive Committee recommended for election to their initial three-year terms on the Board of Directors the following individuals:

Mr. John A. Barra, retired Circuit Court judge, Pekin, Illinois 
Mr. Tim Butler, Director of Marketing, St. Johns Hospital, Springfield, IL 
Mr. William T. Fleming, Executive Director, Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce, Pekin, Illinois 
Ms. Sue Ann Kortkamp, Member, Pekin City Council, Pekin, Illinois 

We look forward to working with these folks over the next three years.  Welcome!


In this Public Criticisms module, you will hear many of the common criticisms of Congress via "man on the street" videos. You will then be able to hear what some Congressional experts have to say about those criticisms. You will vote on whether you agree or disagree with what the public and the experts are saying, and see how other users voted on the criticisms. There are additional research resources and polling data for each of the 15 criticisms.

Find Public Criticisms of Congress at: http://www.congressforkids.net/games/Execbranch_pres_congress/2_pres_congress.htm

Trivia: The 2008 Democratic presidential primary season was one of the longest, most highly contested, and, by far, most expensive in American history. Every major-party candidate made the occasional gaffe amidst his or her daily campaigning. Complete the following quote: "It's not surprising, then, [small-town voters] get bitter, they cling to ____ or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them..."

Answer: ___________ (one word)

*Find the answer in next month's issue.

Answer to April 2009's Fun, Facts, and Trivia: http://www.webcommunicator.org/classroomresources/funfactstrivia_ans0409.htm


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