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Bipartisanship & the ADA: Past, Present, and Future

Access materials for this lesson plan, including teacher packet,  handouts, activities, worksheets, and relevant primary source materials.

Senator Bob Dole & 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act

Title: Bipartisanship and the ADA: Past, Present, and Future

Description: In this lesson, students will explore the meaning of bipartisanship through practice and critical thinking. In practice, students have the opportunity to challenge real life situations and decisions through the application of the Americans with Disabilities Act on the local and federal level.

Grade level: High School

Authors: Chris Fellows, Joe Segraves, and Eric McGrane.

Contributors: Audrey Coleman, Senior Archivist, Dole Institute of Politics; Joe O’Brien, University of Kansas; Tina Ellsworth, University of Kansas.

Acknowledgements: Thank you to Zach White, Social Studies Teacher at Greensburg High School in Greensburg, Kansas; and Mark Schiltz, Bonner Springs High School, Bonner Springs, Kansas for their feedback on the materials.

Instructional materials developed by Kansas University Council for the Social Studies in partnership with the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics.

Course: American Government or American History

Grade level: High School

Time required: 90 minutes


  • The student will be able to define bipartisanship

  • The student will be able to apply bipartisanship to a real life issue.

  • The student will be able to evaluate the role of bipartisanship as it relates to the ADA.


  • Poll Everywhere

  • Kids need computers/phones/iPads/laptops

  • Handout A: Descriptions of Problems

  • Handout B: Descriptions of beliefs of "Red" Group and "Blue" Group

  • Handout C: Issue and Solution Worksheet

  • Dole Documents teacher packet (not necessary for the lesson, just supplement material)

  • Robert and Elizabeth Dole Archives and Special Collections (for extended learning, not necessarily for the lesson)


1. Anticipatory Set

a. Set up a Think Pair Share asking students to describe a time when they had opposing views with someone else on a problem, and they had to work together to find a common ground via compromise to satisfy both parties.

b. After students shared in their pairs, ask for a few volunteers to share with the class.

c. Explain to students that they had engaged in a form of bipartisanship.

d. Explain to students that today they will have an opportunity to engage in bipartisanship by finding a solution to an issue that has faced, and/or does face our lawmakers.

2. Group Work

a. Prior to class using Handout A: Descriptions of Problems, the teacher will pick a problem the class will work on.

b. Divide students into four, equal-sized groups. Two groups will be named "Red Group." Two groups will be named "Blue Group."

3. Handout B

Give students the Handout B: Descriptions of Beliefs of "Red" Group and "Blue" Group. This handout will give students a role to play by explaining the beliefs they represent. Have students read the Handout to become familiar with those beliefs.

4. Handout C

Give each group Handout C: Issue and Solution Worksheet

a. On this sheet, they will need to come up with three solutions for the problem, keeping their beliefs in mind.

b. Each group will then come to a consensus as to which solution it most prefers.

5. Group Work Part II

a. Once each group has determined the best solution to the problem, combine one "Red Group" with one "Blue Group" resulting in two large groups in the class.

b. These new groups need to engage in bipartisanship to come up with a solution that satisfies both groups.

6. Direct Instruction

a. The teacher will ask students what they learned about bipartisanship through this activity.

b. The teacher will then give a brief lecture on the ADA and the role bipartisanship played in its creation.

7. Conclusion

a. The teacher will ask students to define bipartisanship and list obstacles to it.

b. Using Poll Everywhere, have students answer the following question: "The ADA was a perfect example of the power of bipartisanship. In today's political climate, what are some issues that would benefit from a bipartisan effort? How could the two sides come together on that issue?"

Extended Learning or Formal Assessment?

Have students research an issue that currently relates to the ADA. They can then research the position of Republicans and Democrats on the issue and propose a solution that should satisfy both of them.


  • Informal assessment via class discussion and participation in the activity.

  • Informal assessment via the exit slip and "extended learning/homework" activity.


We, the undersigned, give permission to the advisors, members and other affiliates of KUCSS to publish these materials.

Chris Fellows, Joe Segraves, and Eric McGrane