Separation of Powers

Instead of placing authority in the hands of one person, like a king, or even a small group of people, the U.S. Constitution divides power. Power is first divided between the national, or federal government, and the state and local government under a system known as Federalism. At the federal level, the Constitution again divides power between the three major branches of our federal government: the legislative, the executive, and the judicial. Discover the battles of the branches in the National Constitution Center’s learning module.

Federalism

“Federalism” is the word used to describe the Constitution’s system of dividing political power between the national government and the states. What is federalism and how does it work? Why did the founders build federalism into our constitutional system and what are the modern debates over federalism today? Explore the National Constitution Center’s Federalism learning module to learn more!

Article I: The Legislative Branch

The power to make laws in our country falls in the hands of the Legislative Branch. The branch is outlined in Article I of the Constitution. The Legislative Branch is divided into two houses of Congress. The House of Representatives is made up of representatives proportionate to their state’s population while each state maintains equal representation in the Senate. Learn all about Article I in the National Constitution Center’s learning module.

Impeachment Proceedings

The process of impeachment was outlined in the Constitution when it was drafted in 1787. To date, 19 officials, including judges, cabinet members, senators, and presidents, have been impeached and stood trial. The crimes these individuals have been charged with range from perjury to conspiracy to intoxication on the bench. It is important to note that impeachment is not the actual removal from office, but merely the process to remove an official.

Grades 9-12
Executive Branch/Presidency
Lesson Plans

‘The Man On The Street’

“The Man on the Street” is Constituting America’s Best High School Short Film by Dakare Chatman. Peer-to-peer teaching is what students want and learn from effectively. Dakare interviews people on the street and teaches about the Constitution in the process. Dakare was a 2017 winner in the We the Future contest. At the end of the video, students will learn how they can enter the contest.

Grades 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
Foundations of Democracy
Interactives

Checks and Balances

This lesson explore the principle of checks and balances by providing video clips with examples and explanations. As they view these real-world examples, students will complete a graphic organizer and use it to evaluate how effective our system of checks and balances is at limiting government.

Grades 7-12
Executive Branch/Presidency
Media

The Powers of Congress

In this lesson, students will learn about the powers of Congress, how they have evolved throughout history, and their impact on public policy. Students will view C-SPAN video clips to learn about the types of congressional power and apply that knowledge by developing strategies to improve the effectiveness of Congress.

Grades 7-12
Federal Government
Media