State and National Legislatures

Read the transcript

Previewing (5 minutes)

  1. In a quick classroom discussion, establish what students know about how a bill becomes a law. Possible questions might include:
    • What is a bill?
    • How is it introduced?
    • Who can introduce a bill?
    • Who votes on a bill?

    You may want to screen the Schoolhouse Rocks video – “How a Bill Becomes a Law” if students are in need of a quick introduction or reminder of how the process works.

  2. Tell students they are going to watch a video about a woman who played a role in passing legislation to end the marital exemption for rape in Texas.

Viewing & Discussion (10 minutes)

  1. As a class, watch the brief Amy Wong Mok video, which can be accessed online at If you have difficulties accessing the videos, please visit our Media Help page.
  2. Ask students if they have any more ideas about how a bill becomes a law. Fill in any gaps from the previewing discussion. What, if anything, did the film teach them about how a bill becomes a law? You may want to focus your student’s attention on the role of citizens and expert witnesses to the process of legislating.

Application (30 minutes)

NOTE: Students will need to have access to a diagram of how a bill becomes a law at the state level (preferably in their own state) and a diagram of how a bill becomes a law at the national level. Before using this lesson you will have to find a copy of your state’s process by doing some research yourself. To find a link to a diagram of your state’s process, try looking on the web.

  1. A few states have made resources available on the web:
  2. A diagram of how a bill becomes a law at the national level can typically be found in any American Government text but if one is not available in the text, a diagram can be found at:
  3. Depending on the class size and classroom dynamics, pass out the diagrams to each student or each pair of students.
  4. Have students shade in the executive, the committee/subcommittees, time on the floor of the house and senate (each in a different color). They should do this for both the national and state level diagrams.
  5. Pass out the WORKSHEET and have the students fill in the boxes.
  6. Carve out a little time, in this class period or the following, for students to share their findings. Ask students:
    • When and where do citizens, like Amy Wong Mok, participate in the process?
    • What have they learned about the process of how a bill becomes a law?