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Planning Step 1: Lesson Curriculum: What are the Learning Goals for this lesson?

Lesson Standards

Always include a writing standard.

2.CG.1.2: Explain how governments establish order, provide security and create laws to manage conflict.
W.2.1: Write opinion pieces in which they introduce the topic or book they are writing about, state an opinion, supply reasons that support the opinion, use linking words (e.g., because, and, also) to connect opinions and reasons, and provide a concluding statement or section.

Students Will Be Able To… (Do)

  • Skills from standards including thinking (cognitive verbs).
  • This is not activities.
  • One or more goals should be Higher Order Thinking (Levels of Learning 3 or 4), and/or Reading Comprehension.
  • Sequence these goals in the order in which they should be learned.

Explain the function of the executive branch
Explain the function of the legislative branch
Explain the function of the judicial branch
Analyze the relationship among the three branches of government
Construct support for an opinion

Students Will Know

Knowledge from standards such as vocabulary, facts, formulas.

Government
Executive branch
Legislative branch
Judicial branch

Lesson Essential Question

  • A question that communicates the Learning Goals.
  • Reflect the Higher Order Thinking and/or Reading Comprehension Learning Goal(s).

How do the three branches of the federal government work together to lead our country?

Planning Step 3: Lesson Instruction: How will students learn?

Activating Strategy

  • Plan this after you plan your Learning Activities. How will you introduce the Lesson Essential Question?
  • How will you draw attention to important vocabulary in the Lesson Essential Question?
  • How will you build/link background knowledge?
  • What prerequisite content might students need to know before the lesson?
  • >Which key vocabulary from the Learning Goals needs to be explicitly taught?
  • Are there other vocabulary words that you think need to be taught?
  • Which vocabulary strategy will you use?
  • Previewing:
    • Advance Organizer
    • Prerequisite Content
    • Vocabulary

Introduce Lesson Essential Question and box “three branches of government” in the question. Along with the Lesson Essential Question, place a poster of a tree with three branches, and put up word slips for executive, legislative, and judicial, one on each branch.

Post lyrics for the “Three Government Branches” song. Sing with students. Highlight the three branches.

Watch School House Rock Three Ring Government video. Before starting the video, tell students that all three branches of government work with laws to keep people safe, but they each have different roles and responsibilities. Instruct students to listen carefully during the video for the three branches and some important things about each branch.

Introduce the Analyzing Relationships Graphic Organizer and fill in the top four boxes with students. Stop video at intervals and model for students how to fill in key information on the graphic organizer.

At the conclusion of the video, students work in Collaborative Pairs to each name one branch of the government and one important piece of information about that branch.

Key vocabulary (for explicit instruction):
Government

Vocabulary Strategy: Word Map

Previewing (what, who, when):
Preview the term “government,” and names of three branches: Post lyrics for the “Three Government Branches” song (sung to the tune of “Three Blind Mice):

Three branches, Three branches,
Here’s how they work, Here’s how they work
The legislative branch makes all the laws,
The judicial branch makes sure they’re obeyed,
The executive branch carries them out,
Three branches.

Sing song with students. Highlight the branches on Word Map.

Graphic Organizer

  • How will students store and organize information as they learn during this lesson?
  • Base the organizer on the Higher Order Thinking or Reading Comprehension in the Will Be Able To… (Do) Learning Goals.
  • Determine how the organizer will be previewed for struggling students.
  • Determine how the organizer will be scaffolded for struggling students.

Analyzing Relationships Graphic Organizer

Previewing (what, who, when):
Model and think aloud how to analyze relationships using the Graphic Organizer by using the Anchor Chart and demonstrating the process step by step.

Scaffolding (what, who, when):
Provide guided notes for graphic organizer and word map with fill-in-the-blanks.

Learning Activity 1

The Learning Goal(s) for this Learning Activity and Assessment Prompt:

Consider:

  • Explicitly teach Higher Order Thinking and/or Reading Comprehension Strategy (if didn’t in a previous Learning Activity)
  • Content students need to learn
  • Chunk activity:
    • Several opportunities for thinking, talking, writing to learn
    • Distributed summarizing and/or practice
    • Questions to ask
    • Higher Order Thinking and/or Reading Comprehension Questions to ask
  • Active engagement:
    • Collaborative Pairs, Numbered Heads, Think-Pair-Share, etc.
    • Variety
    • Movement
  • Previewing prerequisite knowledge/skills
  • Scaffolding content and process

Interactive PowerPoint – Introduce the executive branch:
President, Vice President, and the President’s Cabinet
The executive branch does its work in a building called the White House (show picture on screen)
The main job of the executive branch is to carry out laws and let the American people know about them.
Read the section on the executive branch from “How the US Government Works” by Syl Sobel. During reading, students will write key information on an index card. Do a Whip Around to share information, which is documented on a chart paper to be transferred to graphic organizers.

As a whole group, teacher will have pairs talk about which leaves belong on the executive branch of the tree on the poster. Then the teacher will draw a name from the popsicle stick cup, and have that student share what was discussed in their partnership and explain why the leaf belongs there. Leaves are added to the executive branch.

Previewing (what, who, when):

Scaffolding (what, who, when):
During reading, provide words on index cards to listen for and check off.

Assessment Prompt for Learning Activity 1

  • Formative assessment of the Learning Goal(s).
  • Ensure the task meets the expectation of the Higher Order Thinking and/or Reading Comprehension Learning Goal.
  • Remediate: What is an additional learning opportunity for students who did not master the Learning Goal(s) before proceeding?

Students complete a 3-2-1: 3 important things the executive branch does, 2 key people belonging to the executive branch, and 1 question about the executive branch.

Learning Activity 2

The Learning Goal(s) for this Learning Activity and Assessment Prompt:

Consider:

  • Explicitly teach Higher Order Thinking and/or Reading Comprehension Strategy (if didn’t in a previous Learning Activity)
  • Content students need to learn
  • Chunk activity:
    • Several opportunities for thinking, talking, writing to learn
    • Distributed summarizing and/or practice
    • Questions to ask
    • Higher Order Thinking and/or Reading Comprehension Questions to ask
  • Active engagement:
    • Collaborative Pairs, Numbered Heads, Think-Pair-Share, etc.
    • Variety
    • Movement
  • Previewing prerequisite knowledge/skills
  • Scaffolding content and process

Introduce the legislative branch with a visual of Congress and the breakdown into the Senate and House of Representatives. Read the section on the legislative branch from “How the US Government Works” by Syl Sobel. Students document key points on graphic organizer.

Show the video “I’m Just a Bill” (School House Rock). Stop the video when key information is given, and have partners talk to each other about what key information we just heard, and add to the graphic organizer in the appropriate place. Using the graphic organizer, students complete a RAFT writing:
R: Bill
A: Family members back home (ideas)
F: Postcard
T: Journey from bill to law

As a whole group, teacher will have pairs talk about which leaves belong on the legislative branch of the tree on the poster. Then the teacher will draw a name from the popsicle stick cup, and have that student share what was discussed in their partnership. Leaves are added to the legislative branch.

Previewing (what, who, when):

Scaffolding (what, who, when):
Provide choice of audience and format for RAFT activity.

Assessment Prompt for Learning Activity 2

  • Formative assessment of the Learning Goal(s).
  • Ensure the task meets the expectation of the Higher Order Thinking and/or Reading Comprehension Learning Goal.
  • Remediate: What is an additional learning opportunity for students who did not master the Learning Goal(s) before proceeding?

Collaborative Pairs partners work together to complete a card sort for key people, functions, and buildings for the executive branch and legislative branch.

Learning Activity 3

The Learning Goal(s) for this Learning Activity and Assessment Prompt:

Consider:

  • Explicitly teach Higher Order Thinking and/or Reading Comprehension Strategy (if didn’t in a previous Learning Activity)
  • Content students need to learn
  • Chunk activity:
    • Several opportunities for thinking, talking, writing to learn
    • Distributed summarizing and/or practice
    • Questions to ask
    • Higher Order Thinking and/or Reading Comprehension Questions to ask
  • Active engagement:
    • Collaborative Pairs, Numbered Heads, Think-Pair-Share, etc.
    • Variety
    • Movement
  • Previewing prerequisite knowledge/skills
  • Scaffolding content and process

Introduce the judicial branch: The third branch of the federal government is the judicial branch. This branch makes sure that the laws are fair. The judicial branch is made of the judges, and they do their work in a building called the Supreme Court.

Read the section on the judicial branch from “How the US Government Works” by Syl Sobel. As the teacher reads, stop when key information is given and add to the graphic organizer in the appropriate places.

Do a double check with students to make sure that the remaining leaves belong on the judicial branch of the tree.

Students create a “Three Truths and a Fib” board on cardstock with sticky notes, giving three truths and one fib about any of the branches of government. For the fib, students must correct the fib on the back of the sticky note. With their “Three Truths and a Fib” boards students will use Settlers and Explorers to quiz three other partners on which is the fib, and challenge their partner to correct the statement. (Both partners in each partnership do this.)

Previewing (what, who, when):

Scaffolding (what, who, when):
Provide a bank of answer options, including both truths and fibs. Student must determine which ones to use.

Assessment Prompt for Learning Activity 3

  • Formative assessment of the Learning Goal(s).
  • Ensure the task meets the expectation of the Higher Order Thinking and/or Reading Comprehension Learning Goal.
  • Remediate: What is an additional learning opportunity for students who did not master the Learning Goal(s) before proceeding?

Collaborative Pairs partners revisit the card sort from Assessment Prompt 2, this time with cards added for the judicial branch. Partners complete the card sort.

Learning Activity 4

The Learning Goal(s) for this Learning Activity and Assessment Prompt:

Consider:

  • Explicitly teach Higher Order Thinking and/or Reading Comprehension Strategy (if didn’t in a previous Learning Activity)
  • Content students need to learn
  • Chunk activity:
    • Several opportunities for thinking, talking, writing to learn
    • Distributed summarizing and/or practice
    • Questions to ask
    • Higher Order Thinking and/or Reading Comprehension Questions to ask
  • Active engagement:
    • Collaborative Pairs, Numbered Heads, Think-Pair-Share, etc.
    • Variety
    • Movement
  • Previewing prerequisite knowledge/skills
  • Scaffolding content and process

Introduce the term “checks and balances,” and explain that the three branches of government have checks and balances in place to make sure that one branch doesn’t get more powerful than the others.

Revisit the School House Rock video “Three Ring Government,” this time focusing on responsibilities of the three branches in regards to checks and balances. Add examples to the tree anchor chart on orange leaves.

Who’s Got the Power? Form three groups of students, and name the groups President, Congress, and Supreme Court. Groups have two minutes to create a name tent for their group with a visual and the name of their branch. Share out name tents with whole group. Groups each have a chart of responsibilities, and work together to fill in the branch that matches each responsibility. Groups highlight all responsibilities for their specific branch. Teacher then calls out a responsibility, groups respond if it is their responsibility, and then explain one checks and balances practice their branch is responsible for regarding the two other branches

Previewing (what, who, when):
Introduce the term “checks and balances.” Use scenario cards to help students make connections between branches.

Scaffolding (what, who, when):
Provide scenario cards at varying levels to help make “checks and balances” more explicit

Assessment Prompt for Learning Activity 4

  • Formative assessment of the Learning Goal(s).
  • Ensure the task meets the expectation of the Higher Order Thinking and/or Reading Comprehension Learning Goal.
  • Remediate: What is an additional learning opportunity for students who did not master the Learning Goal(s) before proceeding?

Letter to an Absent Student: Analyze the relationship among the three branches of government by telling an absent student at least one connection among the branches.

Planning Step 2: Lesson Assessment: How will students demonstrate understanding of the Learning Goals for this lesson?

Assignment

  • Plan this before planning Lesson Instruction.
  • How will students demonstrate their knowledge of the Will Know Learning Goals and the skills in the Will Be Able To… (Do) Learning Goals (especially the Higher Order Thinking and/or Reading Comprehension)?
  • How will the Assignment be differentiated for support and challenge?
  • Which students receive differentiation?
  • For students who struggle with the Assignment, how will you remediate this lesson?

Students will construct an argument for their opinion about which branch of the government is the most important in making sure our country runs smoothly. The argument must be backed up by facts gathered on the Analyzing Relationships graphic organizer, the checks and balances chart, and/or the Three Branches of the Government tree and leaves poster. Students will use the opinion writing rubric after they write to make appropriate revisions.

Differentiated Assignment for Struggling Students:
Provide sentence starters for constructing arguments.

Differentiated Assignment with More Challenge:
Instead of writing about which branch is most important, students will create an argument why all three branches are necessary.

Remediation: Students will use a Reader’s Theater script to role play about how checks and balances work among the three branches of government. They will create a cartoon strip that illustrates what they read in 4 boxes. Finally, they will write about which branch of government they think is most important.

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