Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Branches of Government

Sandi King
Bay District Schools

Description

Are the different parts of government confusing to you? Students will use graphic organizers to assist them in learning about the three branches of government.

Standards

Florida Sunshine State Standards
SS.C.1.2.1.4.2
The student knows the branches of Florida state government.

SS.C.1.2.2.4.1
The student understands the structure, functions, and primary responsibilities of executive, legislative, and judicial branches of Florida government.

Florida Process Standards
Information Managers
01 Florida students locate, comprehend, interpret, evaluate, maintain, and apply information, concepts, and ideas found in literature, the arts, symbols, recordings, video and other graphic displays, and computer files in order to perform tasks and/or for enjoyment.

Materials

- Giesecke, Ernestine. National Government, Kids' Guide. Chicago. Heinemann Library, 2000.
- Giesecke, Ernestine. State Government, Kids' Guide. Chicago. Heinemann Library, 2000.
- Giesecke, Ernestine. Local Government, Kids' Guide. Chicago. Heinemann Library, 2000.
- School House Rock! America Rock. Disney Corp. 1997.
- Pens for writing on transparencies
- Students' We the People journals
- Vocabulary cards with definitions from the attached files
- Transparency US Government (Structure) graphic organizer from the attached files
- Student copies of the US Government (Structure) from the attached files
- Teacher key for the US Government Structure from attached files
- Transparency Florida Government (Structure) graphic organizer from the attached files
- Student copies of the Florida Government (Structure) from the attached files
- Teacher key for the Florida Government Structure from attached files
- A copy of the Florida Constitution (see Weblinks for a site to download the constitution) If in Bay District Schools, copies of the Florida Constitution is available from the Beacon Learning Center kit available for checkout from the District Media Center.
- Articles I, II, and III of the US Constitution from the attached files
- Articles II, III, IV, and V of the Florida Constitution from the attached files
- Article VIII of the Florida Constitution from the attached files
- A bulletin board space measuring at least 50 inches by 50 inches (see model of the finished bulletin board, Comparing Government Structures, from the attached files)
- White paper background covering the bulletin board
- Blue paper measuring 10 inches by 50 inches for the judicial section of the bulletin board
- Red paper measuring 10 inches by 50 inches for the legislative section of the bulletin board
- 25 pieces of letter size white paper
- Black, blue, orange, green, and red wide point markers
- Student copies of the formative assessment from the attached files
- Student copies of the Formative Assessment Checklist from the unit's attached files (used with previous lessons)
- Overhead projector
- VCR and television for viewing the video

Preparations

1. Locate and preview the book. National Government, Kids' Guide by Giesecke, Ernestine. Chicago. Heinemann Library, 2000. This book is an excellent resource for learning about government and its structure and function. If your school library does not have this book available, you may want to suggest a purchase.
2. Locate and preview the book. State Government, Kids' Guide by Giesecke, Ernestine. Chicago. Heinemann Library, 2000. This book is an excellent resource for learning about state government and its structure and function. If your school library does not have this book available, you may want to suggest a purchase.
3. Locate and preview the book. Local Government, Kids' Guide by Giesecke, Ernestine. Chicago. Heinemann Library, 2000. This book is an excellent resource for learning about local government and its structure and function. If your school library does not have this book available, you may want to suggest a purchase.
4. Locate and preview The Preamble portion of School House Rock! America Rock. Disney Corp. 1997.
5. Gather an assortment of pens for writing on transparencies. In keeping with the patriotic theme, red, blue and black would be desirable.
6. Locate students' We the People journals previously used in this unit.
7. Download and print the vocabulary cards and definitions from the attached files. Cut them into individual cards.
8. Prepare a place on the wall for the unit word wall. About ten words with definitions will be displayed during this unit.
9. Download, print, and make a transparency of the US Government (Structure) graphic organizer from the attached files.
10. Download, print, and duplicate student copies of the US Government (Structure) from the attached files.
11. Download and print a teacher key for the US Government Structure from attached files.
12. Download, print, and make a transparency of Florida Government (Structure) graphic organizer from the attached files.
13. Download, print, and duplicate student copies of the Florida Government (Structure) from the attached files.
14. Download and print the teacher key for the Florida Government Structure from attached files.
15. Locate a copy of the Florida Constitution. If in Bay District Schools, copies of the Florida Constitution are available from the Beacon Learning Center kit available for checkout from the District Media Center. If not in Bay District Schools, see the Weblinks section of this lesson plan for a site to download the constitution.
16. Download and print Articles I, II, and III of the US Constitution from the attached files. This is a specific document in the attached files, not just part of the overall constitution.
17. Download and print Articles II, III, IV, and V of the Florida Constitution from the attached files. This is a specific document in the attached files, not just part of the overall constitution.
18. Download and print Article VIII of the Florida Constitution from the attached files. This is a specific document in the attached files, not just part of the overall constitution.
19. Prepare a bulletin board space measuring at least 50 inches by 50 inches. Cover the background with white paper. See the model of the finished bulletin board, Comparing Government Structures, from the attached files.
20. Cut blue paper measuring 10 inches by 50 inches and cover the judicial section of the bulletin board.
21. Cut red paper measuring 10 inches by 50 inches and cover the legislative section of the bulletin board.
22. Locate 25 pieces of letter size white paper. See the model of the finished bulletin board from the attached files to see what to write and what color to use when writing.
23. Download, print, and duplicate student copies of the formative assessment from the attached files.
24. Locate student copies of the Formative Assessment Checklist. These have been previously used in this unit. They were originally available from the unit's attached files.
25. Locate an overhead projector. Check to make sure it is in working order.
26. Locate a VCR and television for viewing the video.

Procedures

Note: This is the fifth of nine lesson plans to the unit, We the People, and will begin on day three of the unit. Only social studies content is addressed in this three-day lesson. Reading, math and writing standards are integrated with this unit and are addressed in the lesson plans Class President (reading), Buying and Budgets (math), and Getting to Know Our Elected Officials (writing). See the Unit Plan Overview from the unit's attached files for guidance in how to organize the teaching of the lesson plans.

Session 1 (Day 3 of the unit)
Introduce US Constitution and branches of government

1. Play the video, School House Rock! America Rock, The Preamble. This is a review from yesterday's lesson on citizenship.

2. Engage students in a review discussion of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.

3. Review the class Rights and Responsibility chart that students agreed on and signed yesterday.

4. Emphasize the point that the rights and responsibilities of citizenship are given to us by the US and Florida Constitutions.

5. Ask if students know who or what looks after us to be sure our rights are not taken away. Ask questions to guide students to answers such as government, the people who make the laws, the sheriff, the governor, the president, police, lawyers, judges.

6. Hold up the book, National Government, Kids' Guide and ask students to listen while you read to find out who or what looks after us to be sure our rights are not taken away. Read pages 4 7 and discuss the US Constitution and the fact that this document assures the rights of all US citizens.

7. Display the vocabulary card for constitution from the attached files. Discuss possible meanings for the word. Come to a consensus that a constitution is a written document of basic laws. Add the definition to the word and display both on the unit word wall along with the citizenship words that are already displayed.

8. Continue reading pages 8 and 9, which describe the branches of government.

9. After reading, discuss each branch word and definition. Place the words and definitions on the unit word wall.

10. Place the transparency of the United States Government (Structure) graphic organizer on the overhead projector. Tell students that we will be looking at exactly what the US Constitution says about how our government will protect the rights and responsibilities of citizens.

11. Pass out the United States Government (Structure) graphic organizer to each student.

12. Ask where all the information about the rules for our government comes from. Elicit the new knowledge that the constitution is the written document of basic laws. In the top box of the graphic organizer, write US Constitution.

13. Students follow your example and fill in the top box on their graphic organizers.

14. Read Article I, Section 1 from U.S. Constitution from the attached files. Remind students of the definition of legislative now on display on the word wall.

15. Complete the legislative section of the graphic organizer. Be sure to note that this information is found in Article I. See the teacher key for placement and wording. Remember to use the definition already established to complete the final box in the legislative section. Emphasize that the legislature makes laws to protect the rights of the people.

16. Allow students time to complete their organizers to match your model.

17. Read Article II, Section 1 from the U.S. Constitution from the attached files. Remind students of the definition of executive now on the word wall.

18. Complete the executive section of the graphic organizer noting that the information is found in Article II. See the teacher key for placement and wording. Remember to use the definition already established to complete the final box in the executive section. Emphasize that the executive branch enforces laws to protect the rights of the people.

19. Read Article III, Section 1 from the U.S. Constitution from the attached files. Remind students of the definition of judicial now on the word wall.

20. Complete the judicial section of the graphic organizer noting the information is found in Article III. See the teacher key for placement and wording. Remember to use the definition already established to complete the final box in the judicial section. Emphasize that the judicial branch helps us understand laws to protect the rights of the people.

21. As an added practice and to aid visual learners, a class bulletin board will be created during the next three days. The bulletin board will cross-reference the branches of government and the levels of government. Before this lesson, the bulletin board area should have been covered with white paper and have a blue stripe and a red stripe. See the model from the attached files.

22. Students refer to the U.S. Government organizer just completed while building the Comparing Governments bulletin board. Begin adding the Branches (written in black) and US (written in blue) sections of the chart by passing out the ten pieces of prewritten papers for these two sections. As you elicit responses from students about the constitution and branches of government, have the person holding the corresponding paper come attach it to the proper place on the bulletin board. Do the entire Branches section followed by the entire US section.

23. Using their individual graphic organizers as a reference, students write at least four things they have learned about the US government in their We the People journals. The completed organizers are to remain in the journals, stapled to the back inside cover or placed in a pocket of the cover, as they will be used as study guides while preparing for the summative assessment later in the unit.

24. Remind students that you will be reading their journal entries not only for social studies information, but also to check whether they are using correct capital letters, correct punctuation, and whether their writing stays focused on the topic.

25. Collect the journals and give written feedback to affirm correct responses and/or to correct misinformation. An example of affirmative feedback is, Right, the judicial branch only helps us understand the law, not make the law. Corrective feedback guides students toward the correct answer. An example of corrective feedback is, Yes, the President is the main office of the executive branch, but the President cannot make new laws. What does the President do with the laws?

26. Use the journal entry to formatively assess the writing standards previously taught. (See the lesson plan Getting to Know Our Elected Officials, Session 3, # 16.) Oral feedback should be given for correct use of capital letters (LA.B.1.2.3.4.3), correct punctuation (LA.B.1.2.3.4.2), and whether the journal entry remains focused on the topic (LA.B.1.2.2.4.1). Mark the Formative Assessment Checklist.

27. This journal entry sets the stage for learning about Florida government, but does not directly address any of the social studies standards. Therefore, do not record any social studies data on the Formative Assessment Checklist.

28. Remind students of the class citizenship project and note how it is progressing. Because citizenship is the focus of the unit, the class project should be drawn into class discussions when ever possible.


Session 2 (Day 4 of the unit)
Introduce FL Constitution and branches of government
(SS.C.1.2.1.4.2, SS.C.1.2.2.4.1)

1. Begin the lesson by playing the School House Rock! America Rock video, The Preamble.

2. Review the branches of the US government and the structure and function of each branch using the bulletin board display that was begun yesterday.

3. Display the overhead transparency created yesterday of the US Government. Ask questions about how each branch of government helps protect our rights as citizens of the US.

4. Begin the transfer of knowledge gained about the US Government to Florida government by reading State Government, Kids' Guide pages 4 11. While reading pages 10 and 11, be sure to emphasize the rights and responsibilities of citizens and how the state protects these rights.

5. Hold up the Florida Constitution and state that the constitution not only gives us our rights and responsibilities, it also tells exactly how our rights will be protected.

6. From the Florida Constitution, read Article II, General Provisions, Section 3, Branches of government. (The content needed is also available from the attached files.)

7. To emphasize that the branches of the government are established in the Florida Constitution, initiate a discussion of how we know about the kind of government Florida has. Hold up the Constitution again to add emphasis.

8. Review the vocabulary card for constitution and each of the branches. Now that the students have interacted with the constitution, ask them to act as the judicial branch and make a judgment as to how each branch protects our rights and responsibilities as citizens of Florida.

9. Place the transparency, Florida Government (Structure) on the overhead and pass out student copies of this document.

10. Remind students of yesterday's procedure of reading from the constitution and organizing the information on the chart.

11. Ask what determines Florida Government. Help students come to consensus that the Florida Constitution determines Florida government. Write Florida Constitution in the top box of the graphic organizer. Tell students to follow your example and complete the first box of their graphic organizers.

12. Reread Article II, Section 3. On the graphic organizer, write the three branches in the appropriate boxes. Under each branch title, write Article II denoting that this is where these branches of government are established in the Florida Constitution. Students should follow your example and complete this section of the graphic organizer by writing legislative, executive, and judicial in the appropriate boxes. Remind students that since Article II establishes these branches, they should write Article II after each of the branch headings. See the teacher key in the attached files.

13. In the Florida Constitution, turn to Article III, Section 1 and read about how the legislative power of the state shall be vested. After reading this short paragraph, discuss how the structure of the state legislative branch compares to the US legislative branch. Complete the congress, senate, and house sections of the graphic organizer. After the Congress title, write Article III denoting where this information is found in the Florida Constitution.

14. Read the titles of sections 2 19 and emphasize how many of the sections deal with how laws for the state are made. Complete the final box in the legislative section of the organizer stating that the legislative branch makes laws and again denoting that this information is found in Article III. A teacher answer key is available from the attached files.

15. In the Florida Constitution, turn to Article IV, Section 1(a) and read about how the executive power of the state shall be vested. After reading this short paragraph, discuss how the structure of the state executive branch compares to the US executive branch. Compare and contrast the offices of president and governor. (This comparison and contrast align with the reading lesson plan that is associated with this unit.) Add governor to the graphic organizer remembering to note that the information is in Article IV.

16. Reread the second sentence of Article IV, Section 1(a) and emphasize that it is the governor's duty to be sure all laws are being followed. Complete the final box in the executive section of the graphic organizer by writing that the governor enforces the law and again noting Article IV. Students follow the teacher's modeling of completing executive section of the organizer.

17. Ask which branch of the government is still missing from the graphic organizer. Have students predict where information on the judicial branch of Florida's government can be found.

18. Call students' attention to the three boxes under the judicial box. Ask students to listen for three separate parts to the Florida judicial branch as you read Article V, Section 1 of the Florida Constitution.

19. Because this first section gets very wordy, reread only the first two sentences again reminding students to listen for information to write in the three boxes on the graphic organizer.

20. Elicit information about the three court systems established by the Florida Constitution. Write supreme court, circuit court, and county court in the appropriate boxes remembering to note that Article V establishes each court.

21. Finally, complete the chart by reminding students that the court system interprets laws making sure that all laws meet the guides of the constitution. This branch of the government makes sure that laws passed by the legislature never take our rights away. In the final box of the graphic organizer, write that the judicial branch helps us understand the law and note that the information is from Article V in the Florida Constitution. See the teacher key from the attached files.

22. The completed graphic organizers are to remain in the journals, stapled to the back inside cover or placed in a pocket of the cover, as they will be used as study guides while preparing for the summative assessment later in the unit.

23. Students refer to the Florida Government organizer just completed while building the Florida section of the Comparing Governments bulletin board. Add the Florida (written in orange) section of the chart by passing out the five pieces of prewritten papers for this section. As you elicit responses from students about the constitution and branches of government, have the person holding the corresponding paper come attach it to the proper place on the bulletin board. Do the entire Florida section. This serves as a review of Florida's government.

24. Students reflect on their new knowledge of the Florida government by writing in their We the People journals. Students write about why the Florida Constitution is important to the citizens of Florida.

25. Remind students that their journal entry should be a five-paragraph writing. Ask students to use their Five-Paragraph Boogie Test that they used during writing to check their journal entry. Tell students that you will be looking for these things in their writing: focus, proper capitalization, proper punctuation, support, details, and paragraph indention. (See the lesson plan, Getting to Know Our Elected Officials, Session 4, procedure # 17 for more information.)

26. While students are writing, circulate and give feedback as to correct use of capitalization, punctuation, and indentation. Check for focus and use of support and details. Guide students who are having difficulty with the writing aspect of this assignment. Stress that students must always practice their writing skills, no matter what subject they are writing about. Give formative feedback and mark the Formative Assessment Checklist for (LA.B.1.2.2.4.1, LA.B.1.2.2.4.4, LA.B.1.2.3.4.2, LA.B.1.2.3.4.3, LA.B.1.2.3.4.5)

27. After collecting the journals, review them for alignment to SS.A.1.2.1.4.2, knows branches of Florida government. If all three branches are named, mark the Formative Assessment Checklist with a plus. If only some are named, mark the checklist with a dash. If none are named, a slash should be marked on the checklist.

28. Written journal feedback should address how the students understand the concepts of the standards. Appropriate feedback might be, No, the Florida Constitution does not make the laws for the people, but the constitution does set up a branch of government to make the laws. Which branch is it?

29. Also, review the journal entries for alignment to SS.A.1.2.2.4.1, understands the structure, functions, and primary responsibilities of the three braches of Florida government. If good explanations of structure, functions, and responsibilities for all three branches are given, mark the appropriate area of the Formative Assessment Checklist with a plus. If some information is given, mark the areas with dashes or slashes as appropriate.

30. Feedback should address how the students understand the concepts of the standards. Appropriate feedback might be, Yes, each branch of government has the responsibility to look out for the rights of the people.

31. Remind students of the class citizenship project and note how it is progressing.

Session 3 (Day 5 of the unit)
Local government
(SS.C.1.2.1.4.2, SS.C.1.2.2.4.1)

1. Begin the lesson by playing the School House Rock! America Rock video, The Preamble. By now students have experienced this portion of the video four times so the words should be moving into long-term memory. Encourage singing with the video.

2. Draw students' attention to the fact that the bulletin board is not yet finished. Place the titles County (written in green) and City (written in red) in the appropriate places on the bulletin board. Ask students where they think the information for completing the bulletin board can be found. If students follow the logic of the US section and the Florida section, they will predict that the county information will be from the county constitution and the city information will come from the city constitution. Tell students that neither counties nor cities have constitutions.

3. Display the book Local Government, Kids' Guide. Before reading, ask students to listen to find out where the information for the county and city government comes from. This pre-reading strategy gives students a purpose for listening to the read-aloud.

4. Read all of Local Government, Kids' Guide.

5. On page six, draw students' attention to the information in the first paragraph to answer the question of where information on local governments can be found.

6. Since we have answered the question that was our purpose for reading, a new purpose for reading should be established. Ask students to listen to find the legislative branch of the county government.

7. Pages eight and nine tell about responsibilities. As these pages are read, relate each responsibility back to assuring that the people are cared for and that their rights are not taken away. Stress that government is for the people.

8. Pages ten and eleven answers the question about the legislative branch and tells about the various elected officials at the county level.

9. Again draw students' attention to the bulletin board, specifically, the last column that will contain information about the city government. Tell students that as you finish reading the book, they should be looking for the information to complete the bulletin board.

10. Finish reading the book. Take time to discuss any areas of interest. Specifically, discuss any mention of how government helps people and/or protects the rights of citizens.

11. Turn back to page 6 of the book and reread the final sentence of the first paragraph that states that the state constitution describes how the local government should be set up.

12. Again, hold up the Florida Constitution. Remind students that the basics of both county and city (municipal) government are addressed in the Florida Constitution.


13. Read the Florida Constitution, Article VIII, from the attached files. Read Section 1 - Counties, (a) Political Subdivision, (d) County Officers, and (e) Commissioners, which have been highlighted on the attached file. Complete the County section of the bulletin board by passing out the appropriate (written in green) parts and having students discuss each part and where it should be placed and why.

14. From the Florida Constitution, Article VIII, from the attached files, read Section 2 Municipalities, (a) Establishment, and (b) Powers. After reading (a) Establishment, note that a city charter is also mentioned. A city charter is like a constitution for the city. After reading (b) Powers, note that the Florida Constitution states that cities will have powers and that the legislative body will be elected, but leaves it to the city charter as to what the legislative body will be and what other offices will be.

15. The bulletin board sections for county and city government are for comparison purposes to help students better understand the structure of government and the importance of the Florida Constitution. Pass out the remaining four parts to the bulletin board. Complete the city (written in red) section of the bulletin board by discussing various parts of the section and having students holding the appropriate part adhere it to the correct location on the bulletin board. Refer to the bulletin board model from the attached files for an example.

16. Today's activities of review of the bulletin board and discussions during the readings from the book and Florida Constitution serve as a review for the formative assessment for this lesson plan.

17. Pass out the formative assessment, Florida Government, available from the attached files. Allow about ten minutes for students to complete the assessment.

18. After collecting the assessments, review them and write formative feedback on the assessment. Remember that formative feedback includes both affirmative and corrective feedback. Both should be offered when appropriate to encourage and guide students. After mistakes have been corrected, save the formative assessments, as they will be used as a review for the summative assessment later in the unit. See the Assessment section of this lesson plan for criteria. Mark the Formative Assessment Checklist.

19. Students write in their We the People journal to tell the one most important thing the government does for citizens. Remind students to use the writing rubric and Five-Paragraph Boogie Test that they were given during writing to check their journal entries. The writing should be focused and have supporting details telling the sources used to learn the details. (See the lesson plan, Getting to Know Our Elected Officials, Session 5, Day 5, procedure #22 for more details.)

20. While students are writing, circulate and give feedback as to correct use of capitalization, punctuation, and indentation. Check for focus and use of support and details. Guide students who are having difficulty with the writing aspect of this assignment. Stress that students must always practice their writing skills, no matter what subject they are writing about. Give oral formative feedback and mark the Formative Assessment Checklist for (LA.B.1.2.2.4.1, LA.B.1.2.2.4.4, LA.B.1.2.3.4.2, LA.B.1.2.3.4.3, LA.B.1.2.3.4.5)

21. Instead of collecting the journals, ask students to share their writings. Students should know from the study of citizenship and the various readings and discussions that the purpose of the government is to care for the people and their rights. Be sure to reinforce any sources cited in the writings. Give oral feedback either affirming this response or corrective feedback guiding students towards this response. This assessment is supportive of the standards, but not directly aligned, so no data should be recorded on the Formative Assessment Checklist.

22. Remind students of the class citizenship project and note how it is progressing.

Assessments

Formative Assessment Students complete a graphic organizer to demonstrate their understanding of the function and framework of the Florida government. The student must include all three branches of government (SS.C.1.2.1.4.2), the main offices (structure) of each branch (SS.C.1.2.2.4.1), and the main duties (functions) and responsibilities of each branch (SS.C.1.2.2.4.1). After reviewing these graphic organizers, the teacher will evaluate students' progress and reteach as necessary to insure complete understanding. Formative feedback will be written on the assessment documents before they are returned to the students.

Additional informal formative assessment will be administered daily as the students are learning about Florida's Constitution and the branches of government. These assessments are addressed when they occur within the procedures of the lesson.

Extensions

1. Click here to view the Beacon Unit Plan associated with this lesson. See Associated Files to download the Unit Plan Overview, Unit Assessment, and other associated files.
2. The music teacher can add interest and emphasis to this unit by teaching patriotic songs during music time while the unit is being taught.
3. Art activities can enhance the unit. Ask your art teacher to correlate the art lesson with your patriotic theme.
4. Ask students to bring articles from the newspaper that mention various branches of government.

Web Links

1. This student and/or teacher resource gives brief overviews of the responsibilities of the three branches of government.
The Three Branches of Government

2. This site has a really nice graphic of the framework of three branches of government emphasizing that the framework is a product of the Constitution. Links to more information about the individual branches are also available.
Ben's Guide to US Government for Kids

3. For an online copy of the Florida Constitution, visit this Florida Senate site.
The Florida Constitution

4. This resource is a collection of links to state and local government information.
State and Local Government on the Net

5. Find out information about the government and elected officials of Bay County, Florida.
Bay County Home Page

6. Find out information about the government and elected officials of Panama City, Florida.
Welcome to the City of Panama City, FL

7. This site is provides the municipal codes for various cities and towns. It has a search device to enable easy access to selected codes. This particular site is for the city of Lynn Haven, Florida, but the search device is at the top of the page making this an opening to any municipal code.
Municode. com

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