The Simulated Congressional Hearing

 
After studying the Constitution using "We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution" textbooks, participating classes may choose to compete in simulated congressional hearings. In a simulated congressional hearing each member of the class becomes an expert witness on one of the six units in the textbook and then testifies in small groups before a panel of judges acting as U.S. Congressional representatives. 
 
To prepare for the competition, students are given a variety of questions ahead of time to prepare a four-minute opening statement.  When the hearing begins, the judges announce the chosen question and the students are allowed to give their prepared testimony.
 
At the conclusion of the four minutes, the students must remove their notes and the judges are allowed to ask six minutes of follow-up questions. 
 
Judges score students on their understanding of the question, their constitutional application, their reasoning in answering the question, their supportive evidence with historical and contemporary examples, their responsiveness to the question, and their participation.  
 
At the end of the hearing, total scores are added up for each school competing to determine the state champion.  At the high school level, the state and citywide champions represents Virginia and Washington, DC at the We the People National Finals.  

 

Sample Middle School Question:
 
The Framers put forth various plans to solve the problem of representation in Congress.
  • What were the advantages and disadvantages of the Virginia Plan?
  • What were the advantages and disadvantages of the New Jersey Plan?
  • Do you think the Great Compromise was a good solution to the problem of representation? Why or why not? 
Sample High School Question:
 
What are the fundamental characteristics of a constitutional government?
  • In what ways does constitutional government mean limited government?
  • Describe at least three provisions of the Constitution that provide a means of preventing the abuse or misuse of governmental power. Explain how these provisions work in our system of government today.
 
2014 We the People Finals 

2014 Virginia We the People Winners

High School

1st: Maggie L. Walker Governor's School
2nd: Douglas S. Freeman High School
3rd: Woodgrove High School
4th: Brunswick High School
5th: Glen Allen HIgh School
Loudoun Valley High School
T.C. Williams High School
New Covenant Schools
Matoaca High School
Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School

Middle School

1st: Rachel Carson Middle School
2nd: Kemps Landing Magnet School
3rd: Midlothian Middle School
4th: Rodney Thompson Middle School
5th: Luther Jackson Middle School
Browne Academy
Princess Anne Middle School
Lynnhaven Middle School
Blessed Sacrament Huguenot Catholic School
St. Mary's Catholic School

2014 DC We the People Winners

High School

1st: Cesar Chavez Public Charter School for Public Policy—Capitol Hill Campus
2nd: Cesar Chavez Public Charter School for Public Policy—Parkside Campus
3rd: Capital City Public Charter School

Middle School

1st: National Cathedral School
2nd: Deal Middle School
3rd: DC Prep Public Charter School
Cesar Chavez Public Charter School for Public Policy—Parkside Middle School
Cesar Chavez Public Charter School for Public Policy—Prep Campus