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Making Civics Real Workshop 3: Public Policy & the Federal Budget  
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Workshop 3

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Lesson Plan: Teaching the Lesson: Activity 4

Activity 4. Class Discussion of the U.S. Federal Budget

Distribute the handout called A Citizen’s Guide to the Federal Budget, which contains a glossary of key terms along with charts, graphs, and tables that illustrate where Federal revenue comes from and goes, and shows the total spending by function for 1999 with estimated budgets for the years 2000 through 2005. Leslie Martin planned to spend about 10 to 15 minutes on this discussion, although she later felt that more time was needed--perhaps as much as a whole class period. She used the vocabulary discussion as a bridge to presenting the real budget. Seeing the level of entitlements (budget items that are already committed through prior legislation) in the real budget is the students’ first realization that they really only have about half of the two trillion dollars to allocate to their priorities. Leslie Martin deliberately did not provide this information earlier. She counted on students’ reactions to help emphasize the reality and constraints of Federal budgeting. Leslie Martin also introduced the concept of budgeting incrementally (in which the previous year’s budget is used as a starting point) and compared it to zero-based budgeting, which had been the basis for the students’ initial budget.

Overview, Goals, and Planning    |     Activity 1
Activity 2     |     Activity 3     |     Activity 4     |     Activity 5     |     Activity 6     |     Activity 7     |     Scheduling and Adaptations

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