Beacon Lesson Plan Library

The Politics of Big Business

Thomas Lucey


Simulating a congressional debate, students discover the issues involving monopolies and big business during the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt.


The student understands major ideas about why government is necessary and the purposes government should serve.


-Copies of the Role Descriptor Sheet (see Associated File)
-Easel pad
-Assessment Checklist (see Assessments)


1. Arrange the seats into three equal-sized areas.
2. Download the Role Descriptor Sheet (see Associated File) and make copies for students.
3. Set up the easel pad.
4. Review the WebLink for your own knowledge.


1. Inform the class that Congress helps the nation to resolve issues. During the early 1900's while Theodore Roosevelt was President, big businesses and monopolies had an undue amount of influence over the nation's activities. Big business could control more than 50% of the market. This domination may substantially diminish market competition and elevate pricing for goods and services. It may also affect the quality of the products and services provided. The class will experience the congressional process involved with considering such issues.

2. Count off the class by 3ís and divide into groups. Hand out the problem for the House of Representatives (see Associated File) to all students.

3. Instruct one group to represent the House of Representatives attempting to resolve a problem. Assign each Representative a role (see Associated File) with a viewpoint to express.

4. Instruct the two observing groups to observe the attitudes and comments of the House of Representatives group.

5. Explain the process to the class. The House of Representatives will have 15 minutes to work toward a solution.

6. At the end of the exercise, ask for observations from the two groups, about the middle group (House of Representatives) discussion. In this process, write comments on an easel pad in the center of the room.

7. Assign a composition about how much influence the students think big business has on political decisions made today. Review the Assessment checklist (see Assessments).

8. Formatively assess the compositions using the Assessment checklist in Assessments.


Students write a composition about how much influence they think big business has on political decisions made today.

Assessment checklist:
-Composition discusses the congressional process using the exercise for support.
-Composition uses comments from class to support opinion about big business effects.


The following questions may be discussed after the exercise:
1) Based on your observations/participations what values do you think Congress holds when considering such business climate issues?
2) How do you think these values are reflected in the nation today?

Note: This lesson also covers the following Tennessee standards:

Tennessee Curriculum Frameworks
Grades 6-8 Social Studies Curriculum Framework

Standard 3: Students will address historical events and trends in order to interpret historical information and put it in the context of past, present, and future. To achieve this standard, the learner will:
Compare different historical interpretations of the same events to examine how the use of sources affects conclusions.

Memphis City School Social Studies Standards.

Standard #1:
Students should be able to analyze and discuss different forms of government and the influences of government on the lives of people.

Web Links

An essay about Teddy Roosevelt's presidency.
Teddy Roosevelt's Broad Powers

Attached Files

The Role Descriptor Sheet.     File Extension: pdf

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