Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Branching Out

Carolyn Calloway
Miami-Dade County Schools


In this lesson, students work in pairs to research the structure, function and primary responsibilities of each office of the Executive branch. After researching, students come together in pairs and create a chart displaying their research.


The student understands the structure, functions, and primary responsibilities of executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the United States government.


-Social studies textbook , 1 per group
-Plain paper, 3 sheets per group
-Ruler, 1 per group
-Pencils, 2 per group
-Selected websites (Sites are listed in the weblinks at the end of this lesson plan.)
-Computers with Internet access, one per pair of students


1. Find Websites that relate to the Executive branch.
2. Check to see if there are enough social studies books for each pair of students.
3. Get plain paper, extra pencils, rulers , and markers for each pair of students. Place these
materials and social studies books on the desks before instruction begins.
4. Write the Websites on the chalkboard before class begins.
5. Students should bookmark the selected Websites.
6. Students will use the computers in the classroom and also have access to the computers in the computer lab and library. Check with the librarian and computer lab resource person for available times to use the computers.


Note: This lesson only addresses the part of the Sunshine State Standard concerning the Executive branch of our federal government.

1. Introduce the three branches of government by displaying an organizational chart of the three branches. Then explain to the class how the school's government is also composed of an executive, legislative, and judicial branch. A sample chart can be found at the following Website:
Let students know that today we will only deal with the Executive branch.

2. Ask students for their definitions of the Executive branch. List student responses on the chalkboard. After listing several definitions, tell students that the Executive branch of government enforces the laws of our land.

3. Divide the class into pairs to begin research on the structure, function, and primary responsibilities of each office in the Executive branch. Each pair of students will have access to computers and a social studies textbook.

4. Give students 40 minutes to work in groups researching the information on the offices of the Executive branch.

5. After each group has completed the research, give them a sample of how their charts should look and have them work in pairs to create a chart which includes the structure, function, and primary responsibilities of the offices in the Executive branch.

6. When each group has completed the chart, collect each group's chart for formative assessment.


The teacher will formatively assess the students' charts for accurate details about the structure, function, and primary responsibilities for each office of the Executive branch using the provided background information in the Weblink. For example, The United States Attorneys Office is composed of a criminal and civil division. The primary function of the United States Attorneys Office is to facilitate coordination between the Offices of the United States Attorneys and other organizational units of the Department of Justice. Its responsibilities include policy development, operational support, general executive assistance and direction, and to publish and maintain a U.S. Attorneys' manual. The teacher will provide positive and guiding feedback to the students.


For ESE students, the lesson may be modified by pairing students with a gifted student to work on the chart and only deal with the names of each office in the Executive branch. This same method would be beneficial for ESOL students.
An extension activity would be to repeat this same activity for the other two branches.

Web Links

Web supplement for Branching Out
Ben's Guide to U.S. Government for Kids

Web supplement for Branching Out

This site may take a few minutes to load since it contains many grapics, as well as photographs.
The White House

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