In this activity, students will be introduced to reading legislation. In addition to its relevance, it reinforces an important life skill, one with which all responsible citizens should feel comfortable. The activity begins with a brainstorm* of qualities that would make a bill a "good" bill and ends with students writing an assessment on whether or not a bill is "good" based upon the previously brainstormed criteria.
The activity can be differentiated according to student reading level. Higher level students can work individually and choose their own bill. Lower level students can work with a partner or in small groups and can be provided with a bill of the teacher's choosing. This activity is an excellent means of spearheading discussions about the necessary and proper clause, equal protection, and limits on congressional powers. Teachers can also choose to let students review state bills in addition to federal bills. A resource to help students read legislation is linked within the assignment, although it is encouraged that teachers review the resource and model its application with students before assigning individual work.
*Recommendation: teachers should facilitate a discussion on what makes a "good" bill after students have done so and keep a running list of criteria on the board for the class to which they can refer during the activity.