At Blue Oak, aligned with one of our Core Principles, students learn to inquire. Recently, the 8th-grade humanities teacher at Blue Oak introduced students to the federal government: its formation, the three branches, and how they check and balance each other. Along the way, students are encouraged to question the government’s effectiveness and equity for all citizens by deepening their inquiry through research.

Recently, eighth-graders learned about the Legislative Branch, culminating in a Mock Congress project. With two sections of eighth-graders, 8A served as the House of Representatives, and 8B as the Senate. Students divided into collaborative groups mimicking congressional committees, each creating a federal bill on a specific topic.

The Congressional Session
The fun began once the bills were researched and drafted: the BOS Congress was in session. Students dressed professionally and adopted more professional demeanors. Each attended not as themselves but as a senator or representative from a state they had researched during the first semester. Additionally, they participated and voted from the stance of a political party randomly assigned. For example, J was no longer an eighth-grader from Napa but a Republican Senator from Alabama.

Bill Ideas

  • Food: Ban high-fructose corn syrup and phthalates in U.S. American foods
  • Environment: Mandate all public school buses to be electric by 2040
  • Families: Mandate six months of parental leave across all states
  • LGBTQ+: Ban conversion therapy and mandate LGBTQ+ education beginning in sixth grade
  • Education: Mandate colleges/universities to use endowments for more financial aid
  • Health: Tax social media companies to provide free therapy for teens in schools
  • Jobs: Raise the minimum wage for large businesses based on the difference between the lowest-paid employees and the CEO’s salary
  • Housing: Create new cities for homeless people to live and work

Skills Practiced and Engagement

Students practiced collaboration, decision-making, time management, research, writing, presenting, and active audience engagement. They cooperated, innovated, and evaluated. As usual, they proved to be enthusiastic Blue Oak students, ready to engage. The committees pitched their ideas well, and their fellow classmates asked pertinent questions. Some bills even led to more debate during the lunch hour. Most bills passed both chambers.