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Social Studies | Grade 8, 9, 10 | Lesson Plans

Federalism, Separation of Powers, and Checks and Balances

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About This Product

This is lesson 7 from my unit, "Our Living Constitution." The purpose of this lesson is for students to explore the concepts of federalism, separation of powers, and checks and balances.  I have included detailed lesson plans for each part of this lesson. Students will read an article, complete a vocabulary worksheet, read a flowchart of checks and balances, and interpret it by completing several worksheets, including one that places our system of checks and balances in the real world with real-world and contemporary examples that they have to then analyze. Students will write a paragraph showing their understanding.  There is a template to help students format this paragraph, if necessary.  I have added 3 student examples for you to use as you teach them how to write the paragraph. This is particularly helpful for ELL students and Resource students. I have also included both a hard-copy test and a google form test, both with keys.

My unit: “Our Living Constitution” is designed using the Into, Through, and Beyond model of lesson planning. This lesson can be taught independently, but it does set the foundation for future lessons in the unit. All of the lessons in my "Our Living Constitution" unit can be purchased independently or as a bundled product


Here is a summary of what is in the unit:


Into Lessons: Creating Schema

Lesson 1: Overview of the Constitution of the United States of America Slideshow and Notetaker

Lesson 2: Origins of the Constitution Essential Terms and Notetaker 

Lesson 3: The Seven Principles of the Constitution


Through Lessons: Learning the Content

Lesson 4: Preamble and Preamble Project

Lesson 5: The Three Branches of  Government: Articles 1, 2, and 3

Lesson 6: How a Bill Becomes a Law and Project

Lesson 7: Federalism and the System of Checks and Balances

Lesson 8: Articles 4-7

Lesson 9: The Bill of Rights Unit (and a LIttle About Amendments 11-27)


Extras (from the Unit: Every Four Years… The Presidential Election)

Lesson 10: What Are Your Political Viewpoints?

Lesson 11: Major and Minor Political Parties

Lesson 12: A Brief History of Who Can Vote

Lesson 13: Nuts and Bolts of the Presidential Election


Beyond Lessons: Summative Assessments

Study Guides and Tests are included with many of the lessons

Two Comprehensive Projects to Assess Knowledge and Understanding

  • The Constitution is a Living Document Project

  • The Bill of Rights Explained Project 

The lessons can be used independently as a supplement to what you already teach or as a whole. Every lesson includes the following: an Introduction or Purpose of the Lesson, Objectives, Learning Targets, Standards (California Common Core Standards), detailed Directions, and when applicable, charts, readings, questions, answer keys. Some lessons include summative assessments and rubrics. Opportunities for students to reflect on what they know are built into this unit and those can be used as formative and/or summative assessments.


What's Included

--detailed lesson plans for each part of this lesson.

--an Introduction or Purpose of the Lesson, Objectives, Learning Targets, Standards (California Common Core Standards), detailed Directions,

-- single-column and two-column reading depending on whether you are having students use reading strategies while they're reading

--critical thinking questions and answer keys.

--flow chart on the checks and balances, separation of powers, and the three branches of government: teacher and student copies

--real-world scenarios for students to show their understanding of checks and balances

-- summative assessments

--an short essay to show their understanding, a scaffolded handout for writing, and a rubric

--Opportunities for students to reflect on what they know are built into this unit and those can be used as formative and/or summative assessments.

Resource Tags

Civics Governmentfederalismseparation of powerschecks and balances

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