Cover the basics the 3 Branches of Government with a critical lens, from the U.S. Constitution’s original text, the system of checks and balances, to Congressional and Executive Cabinet leadership, culminating your students’ learning in this PBL mini-unit by writing a letter to their elected official on a topic of their choice!
Featured Critical Thinking Skills
- 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
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.
Leave the way-out-of-date government textbook behind and take your students straight to the real world with primary sources, news articles, current statistics, web-based research, and student-created teaching tools.
This mini-unit compliments any local American Government or Civics course standards in a fresh, current, and interactive way.
Everything you need for this mini-unit is included, from samples and step-by-step directions, rubrics and answer keys, bell ringers and exit tickets, handouts and links for online resources, to detailed daily lesson plans. Even better, you'll be able to download annual updated resources year-after-year 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.
- Unit Overview and 4 pages of detailed daily lesson plans from the hook to the final project
- Concept definition sheet for student accumulative note taking
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
- BONUS Skill Sheets: Annotating a Text, TASTED News Media Analysis, Citation Annotated, Finding Appropriate Sources
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