TPS Spotlight: Engaging Congress
Engaging Congress—part of the Congress, Civic Participation, and Primary Sources Project supported by a grant from the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources program—is a free digital interactive for grades 6-12 that uses primary source documents from the Library and other digital collections to explore the basic tenets of representative government and the challenges they face in contemporary society.
Currently, there are seven Engaging Congress modules. Each module begins with a short video introducing information and primary sources, giving students a historical perspective on such topics as Voting Rights, Separation of Power, Influencing the Political Process, Federalism and States Rights, and the Federal Budget.
Modules focus on increasing a student’s ability to explain the central idea of a primary source, accurately summarize key details from that source, and evaluate differing points of view on the same historical event by using primary sources. Additionally, modules allow students to evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats, and analyze those primary sources in relation to the module’s central topic. A robust website featuring a Teacher’s Toolbox accompanies the interactive and includes related essay questions, as well as TPS and curriculum connections to a multitude of teaching standards. Free classroom giveaways are also available for order on the site for an added element of fun.
Engaging Congress utilizes a game-like format prompting students with a series of multiple choice questions that encourages full examination of the primary source in order to achieve the highest possible score. The Dig Deeper section provides greater context to the primary source, ultimately tying the primary source directly to the module’s intended civic lesson. Mini-games are located throughout the modules and are introduced to increase interactive play and challenge the student to utilize learned information in a more substantial way.
Engaging Congress runs on PCs, Macs, Chromebooks, and tablets with play happening either through a web browser or on an iOS or Android app, the latter making the game available offline.
To learn more about the elements and pedagogy of the digital interactive, subscribe to the Engaging Congress YouTube Channel where you can find webinars on the interactive itself as well as Teaching Civics with Digital Primary Sources.