Connecting the Separate Powers

In this lesson, students will gain an understanding of the separation of powers using role playing and discussion. Students will identify which parts of the Constitution provide for the branches of our government, and will categorize public officials into one of these three branches.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Federal Government
  • Grades: K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

The 14th Amendment and the Evolution of Title IX

Congress and the courts have applied the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause to many aspects of public life over the past 150 years. In this activity, students will explore the evolution of the 14th Amendment through the lens of Title IX, which prohibits institutions that receive federal funding from excluding students from participating in educational and athletic programs on the basis of sex. The Supreme Court’s first Title IX case, Grove City College v. Bell, also demonstrates how each of the three branches exercises its authority.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Actions That Changed the Law

In 1998, when Lilly Ledbetter filed her complaint of wage discrimination against the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, her goal was to get equal pay for equal work because that was the law. She had no idea that her decision would eventually involve all three branches of government and result in a law with her name on it – the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Federal Government
  • Grades: 10, 11, 12

Policymaking in the Three Branches of Government

This lesson introduces students to executive, legislative, and judicial policymaking and to policy evaluation. First, students discuss how policy can be made by each of the branches. Then they read about and discuss how the Chicago City Council passed a controversial ordinance to suppress gang activity and how each branch of government was involved in the policy. Finally, students are introduced to a policy-analysis rubric. Lesson 5 in Civic Action Project.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: State/Local Government
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Branches of Power

This game immerses students in the workings of our three branches of government. Players take on the roles of legislator, president and Supreme Court justice to get constitutional laws enacted. Players juggle several bills at once while holding press conferences and town hall meetings.

  • Resource Type: Games
  • Subject: Federal Government
  • Grades: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Court Shorts: Separation of Powers

In a five-minute video, federal judges offer insights into their thinking about the separation of powers and describe how healthy tensions among the branches have a stabilizing effect on democracy. The judges also share their respect for and commitment to this founding principle, which has an impact on everyday American life.

  • Resource Type: Video
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Why Do People Form Governments?

This short lesson, targeting early elementary, is intended to introduce students to the concept of government and how one of the most important purposes of government is to keep us safe. Students will also be introduced to the Constitution and the three branches of government.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Federal Government
  • Grades: 1, 2, 3

The Fourth Branch: YOU! (Lesson Plan)

Students learn how citizens can influence the government. They measure the impact of their “citizen power” on each of the three branches and learn how to target the right government official with their concerns. (Note: This lesson will be most effective if students have some background knowledge of the three branches of government.)

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Citizenship
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8

A Call to Act: Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co.

This documentary tells the story of Lilly Ledbetter, whose fight for equal pay for equal work eventually involved all three branches of government and resulted in a law with her name on it — the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. A PDF lesson plan accompanies this video.

  • Resource Type: Closed Captions, Special Needs/Language Focus, Translated Materials, Video
  • Subject: Federal Government
  • Grades: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12