Committees in Congress Lesson Plan

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

With this lesson plan, students will have an opportunity to learn more about how the US government functions. They will then put this into practice by forming their own committees.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Explain the function of the committee system in the US legislature
  • Identify the various types and roles of legislative committees
  • Critically discuss the roles of government and methods of governing


60 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social science.


Work with peers to set rules for collegial discussions and decision-making (e.g., informal consensus, taking votes on key issues, presentation of alternate views), clear goals and deadlines, and individual roles as needed.


Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that relate the current discussion to broader themes or larger ideas; actively incorporate others into the discussion; and clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions.



  • Begin the video lesson The Purpose of Legislative Committees. Pause at 0:50. Ask the class the following questions:
    • What is a legislature?
    • What is the name of the United States' legislature?
    • What does our legislature look like? (It's bicameral, etc.).
  • Resume video. Pause at 1:45.
    • What is the purpose of using committees in the legislature?
    • Do you think this is a good idea? How would it be helpful?
    • Are there any potential negatives or risks that the committee system could create?
  • Resume video. Pause at 2:28.
  • Draw four columns on the board. Label the first column 'Standing Committees.' Ask students to shout out the defining features of a standing committee, as well as major areas that may require standing committees. Write those on the board, under the Standing Committees column.
  • Resume Video. Pause at 3:02.
  • Write 'Select Committees' in the second column. Ask students to define the main ideas in this topic, and write them under this column.
  • Resume video. Pause at 3:38.
  • Write 'Joint Committees' in the third column. Ask students to define the main ideas in this topic and write them on the board under this column.
  • Resume and complete video.
  • Write 'House Rules Committee' in the fourth column. Ask students to define the main ideas in this topic, and write them on the board under this column.
  • Pass out the lesson quiz to test understanding.

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