Explore the basics the 3 Branches of Government with a critical lens, from the U.S. Constitution’s original text and the system of checks and balances to Congressional and Executive Cabinet leadership, culminating in your students’ learning in this PBL mini unit by writing a letter to their elected official on a topic of their choice!
By the end of this unit, your students will be able to:
- Annotate and analyze news media sources including articles, statistics, and quotes
- Paraphrase and evaluate the Constitution Preamble and Articles 1-3
- Communicate information effectively in writing and visual display
- Write concise persuasive writing utilizing evidence and evaluating sources
Culminate learning with:
- Letter to An Elected Official,
by transforming your students' targeted research and developed passion regarding a chosen topic into a platform for being heard, which can be done in place of the interview, in addition, or saved for use later!
honoring and desiring to be a contributing member of one’s representative democracy.
Only about 25% of Millennials can name one (just one!) Senator in his or her home state, it lowers to 18% for those under 24 and even less for those of color. You don’t want to know the number for naming one's Representative.
It’s only slightly better for older adults: 33% of all Americans cannot name a single branch of government and another 33% can name only one or two.
Don’t let your students be on the wrong side of either of these abysmal statistics
that stain our remarkable system of representative democracy, by making your teaching stick beyond the unit test with these visceral and relevant activities and project.
This year, let's leave the way-out-of-date government textbook behind and take students straight to the real world
with primary sources, news articles, data graphs, web-based research, and student-created teaching tools to make their learning memorable.
Everything you need for this unit is included:
project samples and step-by-step directions, rubrics and answer keys, bell ringers and exit tickets, handouts and links to online resources, and detailed daily lesson plans. Even better, you'll always be able to download annually updated resources for free!
This mini-unit can be done well in 2 to 3 weeks, with each activity containing multiple stand-alone parts to size up or down depending on time constraints or student abilities.
Included in this complete unit:
- Unit At-A-Glance sheet and 4 pages of detailed daily lesson plans from the hook to the final project for you
- Conceptual note-taking sheet for your students
4 Main Activities:
1- to 3-class period long lessons, depending on customizations
examine a powerful quote from President Obama on citizenry
- Going to the Source:
analyze the basic structure, powers, and requirements of the 3 Branches of Government by examining the Constitution Preamble and Articles 1-3 in an annotating, interactive gallery walk
- Checks and Balances:
create a learning display and peer-teach the ingenious system using a Rock-Paper-Scissor analogy and a little creativity, plus research and discuss current issues with the system
- Your Federal Officials:
research, create a learning display and peer-teach the current leadership line-up for each of the 3 Branches
- Letter to an Elected Official
with step-by-step, overview, sample, edit, and rubric sheets (CCSS and generic)
- Supplemental editable PowerPoint file with images, student directions, and links
- Answer Keys and Rubrics for activities
- Skill Sheets: Annotating a Text, Annotating a Source, Analyzing News Media Sources, Finding Appropriate Sources, Creating a Works Cited, Annotating Citations
Note to Homeschoolers
Though the included teacher lesson plans and PPT slides are written to fully support a traditional classroom teacher, this resource is also a great fit for your teenage homeschooler:
- the inquiry, thematic structure
of this unit is driven more by critical thinking, reading, and writing skills and a central high-interest question than any one set of state-specific, grade-specific content standards
- a wide age and ability range
can easily access the rich variety of sources utilized in this unit, making it perfect for a multi-grade group
- your student’s voice is central
to each activity, through talking out their learning, maximizing the one-on-one
- activities can be completed independently
and aren’t solely reliant on group or whole-class work
- all utilized sources are free and easily obtainable;
either included or accessible online (links provided)
- this unit is independent of a textbook
, though one could be used for greater background knowledge
- any activity can easily be left out to customize
for your student’s skill level or personal interest
Want to try the whole unit?
Civics PBL: 3 Branches of Government, Checks and Balances Unit
Want just the project?
Writing PBL Project: Elected Official Research & Persuasive Letter Project
Want more American Government / Civics resources?
Judicial Branch & Bill of Rights Unit
determine exactly how our rights translates into daily American life
Voting & Mock Election Unit
explore a variety of voting issues; universal for any upcoming election
Citizenship Test & Op-Ed Project
make citizens out of your students with this semester-long project
Political Service Project
make community members out of your students with this semester-long project
Constitutional Issues Research Paper Project
end with a highly-scaffolded, college-ready research paper
Want the whole semester AND save big?
American Government / Civics MEGA Bundle
get the whole course at once!