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CT-N Legislative Session 
Viewing Activity

"Language Arts and Government Interdisciplinary Learning Exercise"
Focus: Information Gathering and Point of View

Tami M. Devine, Laurel Richie, and Raisa Bublick:
Rocky Hill High School

Click Here for the Word Document version of this page.

Video Session: Use an appropriate taped CT-N session of the Connecticut House of Representatives or Senate discussing a bill with clearly defined party arguments. Check our Hot Topics page for ideas.

Content: Unguided, students watching a legislative session would not know what to look for, and may passively consume the information presented. This lesson asks students to identify specific information in a segment of a legislative session (who, what, when, where, why, how), requiring them to be more active viewers. Most importantly, students will use the information gathered to produce written products with a specified point of view, and then compare their writings to those of their classmates. This lesson teaches students not only to be more active consumers of information, but how to employ and identify point of view in writing. 

Additional Materials Needed: 
  • Background information identifying the characteristics of journalistic writing categories: news, feature, opinion, and editorial.  ( doc | html )
  • Paper, pens.

Class Time: 2 to3 class periods.

Objectives: Students will: recognize the defining characteristics of various categories of newspaper writing, including features (spotlights, in-depth issues, human interest, etc.), news, editorials, and opinions; identify key facts and information from a taped legislative session (who, what, when, why, where, and how); apply and synthesize learning by writing of a journalistic piece in a specified mode/point of view; understand that point of view influences the selection of information, the tone of the language used, and the reader’s interpretation of the issue.

Activity: Prior to class, students are given basic instruction and background reading identifying the characteristics of various types of journalistic writing. They should have their own notes or a handout provided by the teacher as reference material.

  • Students view a segment of a CT legislative session (available through CT-N) chosen by teacher.
  • Students are instructed to watch the tape carefully and record details about the session, including the “WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHY, WHERE, AND HOW.” Students may also record certain interesting quotes from the session.
  • Students choose “from a hat” the journalistic mode in which they will be writing. Categories include: NEWS, OPINION, EDITORIAL, and FEATURE. 
  • Students write articles using the information gathered according to the point of view they have chosen (at home or in class)
  • Students share articles aloud in small groups (made up of people writing in different modes) and discuss how differences in point of view affect the tone, readers' understanding of the facts, and overall credibility of the author. 
  • Each group chooses a presenter who will report the group’s findings and conclusions to the class.
  • Teacher facilitates discussion centered upon issues raised during presentations and essential questions of the lesson
  • Assessment Suggestions:
    • Reflective letters on the experience of writing in an assigned mode, the role of point of view in writing, and reactions to the exercise in general. Teachers could create open-ended questions specific to their classroom discussions. 
    • Rubric devised to assess the inclusion of specific elements of journalistic writing in assigned modes.
  • Extension Ideas:
    • Students report on local/community/school issues and practice writing in all journalistic modes, keeping all work in a portfolio along with reflections about the process.
  • Essential Questions: 
    • What effect does an author’s point of view have on the reader’s interpretation of an issue or event? 
    • How do we (as writers and citizens) determine the value of information?
    • What role does audience (real and perceived) play in writing?

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