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.
This lesson examines the process of local decision making and its need for citizen input and compromise. Students simulate a local city/county council session and advise the council on public policy. Students are asked to consider the viewpoints of different citizen groups in order to reach a compromise that will benefit the entire community. This lesson can be used with a unit on local politics and can be adapted to reflect issues of compromise in your school or community.
A tug of war, a balancing act, two dancers dragging each other across the floor. This is the perpetual ebb and flow of power between the states and the federal government. How can things be legal in a state but illegal nationally? Are states obstinate barricades to federal legislation? Or are they laboratories of democracy?
This short episode includes a one-page Graphic Organizer for students to take notes on while listening, as well as discussion questions on the back side.
Civics 360 is a comprehensive guide to middle school civics. Civics is all around us. Being informed about civics takes work. There is a lot to know about the government and how “We the People” interact with the government and each other. Use the resources in the modules to enhance your civic knowledge and skills.
“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!
In this lesson, students learn about how state and local governments have passed various resolutions or made declarations that racism is a public health crisis — made even more urgent by the coronavirus pandemic. Then, students discuss and prioritize policy proposals to address the crisis.
This lesson examines the varied structures and functions of tribal government as well as the relationship these nations have with the United States.
A set of government and politics infographics that teachers can print out for their students, use for their exams, or use to create posters for their classroom.
In Counties Work, students learn about local government by playing a county official responding to citizen requests. They must keep citizens happy and manage county resources responsibly. Are citizens making sensible requests? Which department of local government has the solution? Do taxes need to be raised or lowered to keep a balanced budget? How will citizens react—and what’s the best action when crisis strikes? Challenges come from all directions in this fast-paced game!
This free curriculum guide from the New-York Historical Society explores the contested efforts toward full citizenship and racial equality for African Americans that transpired in the fifty years after the Civil War. Examining both the activism for and opposition to Black citizenship rights, the materials in this curriculum underscore how ideas of freedom and citizenship were redefined by government and citizen action, and challenged by legal discrimination and violence.