Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Separation of Powers

Joyce Honeychurch
Colleges and Universities - Florida


The learners will research the three branches of government and look at the effect that the separation of powers has on the presidency.


The student knows the essential ideas of American constitutional government that are expressed in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Federalist Papers, and other writings.

The student understands the importance of the rule of law in establishing limits on both those who govern and the governed, protecting individual rights, and promoting the common good (for example, government in the sunshine law, limits on campaign contributions).


-Computer with Internet Access
-Copies of Rubric (See attached file)
-Copies of song from WebLink for each student
-Class copies of Quiz: Separation of Powers


1. Teacher needs to review web sites for familiarity.
2. Teacher needs to register for free quizzes and choose quiz that he or she wants to use in
3. Teacher needs to develop a rubric or use one found at


1. The teacher will introduce the names of the three branches of government: the Executive Branch, the Legislative Branch, and the Judicial Branch.

2. The teacher will point out that there is a constitutional safeguard that is called separation of powers between the three branches of government.

3. The teacher will point out how important the President of the United States is in the every day news on the radio and and on the TV about our Nation.

4. The teacher will suggest that citizens of a democracy must recognize that there are limitations on the President who represents the Executive Branch of the Government.

5. Teacher will give the students a hard copy of the song found at this Web site (

6. Students will go to the web site, and all will listen and/or sing along to the song.

7. The class will discuss what was learned from the song.

8. Next, the students will break into three small groups to find information about checks and balances that affect the President's (Executive) power. There will be one group for each branch of government.

9. The students will begin their quest for information on their branch via the Internet ( (There is a wealth of information at the Liberty site and other sites listed under Places to Go, People to See, Things To Do underneath the title- Three Branches of Government.)

10. Each group should choose someone to play the President of The United States and do a presentation about his or her job as it relates to power, sharing with the other two branches of government. Students will be shown the rubric that the teacher will be using so that they can better prepare. (See attached file.)

11. Each group is allowed 15 minutes to do their presentation. Visual aids are allowed and encouraged. A rubric is used for assessment. (See attached file.)

12. Afterward, each student will pass a quiz at the following web site ( The teacher will need to go in and pre-register for free access to pre-made quizzes with answer sheets. See Quiz Lab and also see attached example of quiz with answers. There are many choices under Social Studies, grades three through eight for government as key word.


(See the attached file for the Quiz and Answer Key.)


Students can switch groups to learn more about the other two branches of government, e.g., jigsaw.
Students can write about their experiences and research.
Students can have a debate about the pros and cons of separation of powers. Students can find current events to demonstrate separation of power.
Students who are not computer savvy can use a dictionary and an encyclopedia to do research and define terms.
Teacher can give the quiz orally to those students who have difficulty reading.
The quiz can be simplified depending on varying cognitive abilities.

Web Links

Web supplement for Separation of Powers

Web supplement for Separation of Powers

Web supplement for Separation of Powers

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