Set up the wiki for student use http://www.wikispaces.com/site/for/teachers and select enough samples of introduced legislation so that each student will have one you have selected. This enables you to select legislation that you believe is most important and insures that it will be part of the monitored group. Once they are familiar with ALISON the Alabama Legislative System Online database, allow them to pick their second piece of legislation based on their interest. Once the basic wiki has been created by the teacher, it is ready for students to list their pieces of legislation. The teacher controls the number of people who may access the wiki through the wiki's settings. Students will need to provide email addresses to the teacher in order for them to receive an invitation to join the wiki group and once they receive the invitation, students should respond to the instructions in the email to join the wiki. Once the student has accepted the invitation to join the wiki, he or she is ready to post.
This project is one that can be done on a collaborative basis either in groups in the same classroom or with another school that takes a portion of the legislation to follow. This allows for more oversight of the legislative process. An example of this project may be viewed at the following site: AP Government Legislative Update 2010.
There are several items that may be added to the wiki home page that are helpful. These include the sample of how the students' posts should appear, links to the Alabama House and Senate, ALISON, and Stateline.org an online magazine that monitors state legislative activity. Links to each of your school's legislators will also be helpful when students do the "Write Your Legislator" activity. For this activity, it is not necessary that the student write the legislator about their legislation. Letters that are easiest for the student to write are the ones about subjects in which they are most interested. If this information is posted on the wiki home page, it is not necessary to provide copies of the instructions to each student.
Just prior to conducting the lesson visit ALISON, select one bill per student, paste on a sheet of paper, then cut them so that each individual bill may be laid out on a table for students to select from the group.
Allow students time to get started on the wiki. This will have to be done after they have been accepted into the wiki group. It may be done during school or as homework from their home computer. Provide a deadline approximately one week from introduction of the lesson for students to post their first entry on the wiki. This first post should include a synopsis or short description of their legislation. It is important that students save a copy of their post in Word as a backup in case another student accidentally erases their post. As long as they have a backup, it is easy to replace. This can be done by copying the post and pasting it into Word and saving to their computer or flash drive. Once the original post is on the wiki, all that remains is for the students to update their legislation once a week.
Select a day of the week for students to have updated their wiki posts. Mondays are good days since students have the weekend to work on their assignment. Score them each week using the previously identified points from the Project Instruction handout.
Later in the project, have the students write their legislators on some piece of legislation. Instructions for writing legislators are included in the lesson plan.
A simple rubric for scoring the wiki posts can be generated as a student record page or portfolio, that is stored in a file accessible to the students for their viewing, or it may simply be added into the gradebook by the teacher. The letter to the legislator should be scored before the letter is sent.