LEARNING OBJECTIVE

Students will be able to identify the three branches of government and explain the responsibilities of each one.

KEY STANDARDS

RH.6-8.1, RH.6-8.2, RH.6-8.3, RH.6-8.7, RI.6-8.1, RI.6-8.2, SL.6-8.1, SL.6-8.4, WHST.6-8.1, WHST.6-8.7

Enjoy this free article courtesy of Junior Scholastic, the Social Studies classroom magazine for grades 6–8.

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS

· Incorporate this article into a unit on how the U.S. government works.

· Use this article to show how infographics can help convey information.

· Pair this piece with a study of political parties.

Before Reading

1. STUDENT ENGAGEMENT
(5 MINUTES)

Write the phrase three branches of government on the board. Then explain to students that the nation’s founders created three separate branches of the federal government to prevent any one part of the government from becoming too powerful. Ask: How might our government be different without this system in place?

Read & Analyze

2. INDEPENDENT READING
(10 MINUTES)

Have students read the article on their own, writing down any comments or questions.
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3. CLOSE-READING QUESTIONS
(10 MINUTES)

Have students write their answers to each question, or use these prompts to guide a discussion.

• SUMMARIZING: How does a law make its way through the three branches of government?
First, Congress—the legislative branch—writes, debates, and passes a bill, which is a proposal for a new law. That bill then makes its way to the president, who leads the executive branch. The president has the power to sign (pass into law) or veto (reject) the bill. The judicial branch, headed by the U.S. Supreme Court, evaluates laws. It determines whether laws created by Congress (or the states) violate the Constitution, and they can overturn laws that do.

• EXPLICIT INFORMATION: What are two key responsibilities of the vice president?
Possible answers include: The vice president presides over the Senate and casts a deciding vote in the event of a tie. He or she also takes over the top spot if the president dies or leaves office.

• COMPARE AND CONTRAST: How do the terms of Senate members and House of Representative members compare?
Senators are elected to six-year terms. Representatives are elected to two-year terms.

• MAKING INFERENCES: Why do you think Supreme Court justices are appointed for life?
Possible answers include: Supreme Court justices are appointed for life so that their decisions will not be influenced by the president or legislators.

Extend & Assess

4. READING A DIAGRAM
Reinforce students’ knowledge about the three branches of government by assigning the skills sheet Reading a Diagram: Checks and Balances found at junior.scholastic.com.​

5. ARGUMENT WRITING
Ask students: Which issue should members of Congress fight for? Have students research their answer, then write a persuasive letter to a legislator from their state using the skills sheet Argument Writing: Make Your Voice Heard found at junior.scholastic.com.

DIFFERENTIATING

Lower Level Have students pause after reading about each branch of government to discuss what they learned with a partner.

Higher Level Have students research how another country’s government operates. How is their system similar to that of the United States? How is it different? Then have students write a short essay about what they learned.

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