American Origins and Branches Standards Based Unit of Study

Published: 3/21/2014 10:45 AM
The unit contains 9 lessons and is organized around the question, "How do American origins and branches of government influence our democracy today”?
​Students explore why the U.S. Constitution is considered to be a social contract codified by laws between the people of the United States and the government and why the framers of the U.S. Constitution organized the government into three branches with powers that are separated, shared, checked, and balanced.
 

Students will gain a greater understanding of the Constitution by analyzing and comparing the Constitution to an existing organization’s governance document(s).
 

The end of unit assessment will ask students to explain how the selected organization’s governance document reflects: principles of democracy, influences of individuals, political theories, and political documents on the organization, structure and powers within the organization, and how and why the governance polices can/cannot change within the organization.


American Origins and Branches Unit Overvie

AOB Unit Template

American Origins and Branches End of Unit Assessmen

AOB End of Unit Assessment GRASPS

  Analyzing a Constitution/Social Contrac

AOB End of Unit Assessment Strategies for Implementation

  Strategies for Implementatio

AOB End of Assessment Rubric
  U.S. Constitution and Selected Organization Governance Document Written Analysis Rubric



Lesson 1
           “Protecting Our Natural Rights"                                             3 Days
Lesson Essential Question(s):
1.    Why do we have government?
2.    What are the “roots” of American government?
3.    Why does the U.S. government have a constitution?
Students will consider life in a state of nature to understand the need for and development of  government to protect natural rights.

Students will examine the differing views of John Locke and Thomas Hobbes concerning the role of government. Enlightenment thinkers will be studied to determine their influence on United States government and the importance of natural rights.

Students will examine a sample governance document to determine if it protects natural rights and if it contains the characteristics of a social contract.

This activity will help students prepare for the end of unit assessment in which they will either find or be assigned a governance document of their choice from an existing organization of interest and identify how well it protects natural rights as well as if it possesses constitutional principles.

Civic dispositions targeted in this lesson are reflected in the student friendly learning targets.
1.    I can demonstrate critical mindedness, persistence, open mindedness and civility to explain Locke’s natural rights philosophy in a state of nature in a group and individually.
2.    I can explain, with civility and critical mindedness, the need for governments to have a social contract and how this need contributed to the writing of the U.S. Constitution.
3.    I can describe, using critical mindedness, persistence and open mindedness, the Enlightenment thinkers’ (Locke, Hobbes, Rousseau, and Montesquieu) views on government and explain their influence on American government while working with a partner.
4.    I can analyze a school governance document using critical mindedness and persistence to evaluate influences of Enlightenment thinkers and social contract theory.
Lesson 1 Resources
1C        Think-Pair-Share
1E        Important Terms Power Point
1P        Declaration of Independence

Lesson 2
           “Classical Republicanism"                                                     2 Days

Lesson Essential Question(s):
1.    What are the “roots” of American constitutional government (democracy and republicanism)?
2.    How does the purpose of the U.S. government reflect representative democracy?
3.    How do current events and/or real life experiences require us to reflect on our position regarding issues of natural rights v. common good? This lesson will focus on the competing philosophies of natural rights and classical republicanism.
Students will learn about the Roman classical republicanism philosophy and compare it with the natural rights philosophy. After evaluating differences,

Students will apply their analysis to the formation of government in the U.S. This lesson will introduce the basic principles that shape the U.S. government as a representative democracy outlined in the Constitution and allow students to apply those principles to changes involving natural rights and the common good in recent events. Civic dispositions targeted in this lesson are reflected in the student friendly learning targets.
1.    I can explain demonstrating critical mindedness and civility how the theories of natural rights and classical republicanism are visible in American representative democracy.
2.    I can demonstrate tolerance of ambiguity and critical mindedness to distinguish between a democracy and republic.
3.    I can demonstrate and advocate civility, open mindedness and courage by participating in a Socratic seminar to apply my knowledge of natural rights and classical republicanism and defend my position on how current events affect natural rights and the common good.
Lesson 2 Resources

Lesson 3
           “Constitutionalism"                                                              2 Days

Lesson Essential Question(s):
1.    How did the British and American colonists influence the Founders to establish a government that is both constitutional and representative?
2.    How is the U.S. Constitution a social contract that reflects principles of representative democracy? This lesson will focus on the influence of the British and American colonies (events/acts) on the formation of the U.S. government as both constitutional and representative as articulated in the U.S. Constitution, which is a social contract.
Students will examine documents and events from the British and American colonies and explain how they reflected democratic principles and influenced the development of U.S. government.

Students will also evaluate the effectiveness of the U.S. government in fulfilling the purposes of government as stated in the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution. Civic dispositions targeted in this lesson are reflected in the student friendly learning targets.
1.    I can work in groups, demonstrating civility and open mindedness, to explain how British and American Colonial governments influenced America’s government being constitutional and representative.
2.    I can work with a group to evaluate, demonstrating civility and critical mindedness, the U.S. Government’s effectiveness in fulfilling the purposes of government as stated in the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution.
3.    I can demonstrate persistence and critical mindedness to identify and explain examples of constitutional principles being practiced in historical and current events.
Lesson 3 Resources
3A          The Dice Game
3B          Prior Knowledge Checklist
3D          Documents/Events Readings
3E          Constitutional Principles Chart

Lesson 4
           “Checksand Balances"                                                          2 Days

Lesson Essential Question(s):
1.    What influenced the Framers to organize the government into three branches with separate powers?
Students will determine the advantages and disadvantages of the Articles of Confederation to the states and the national government by completing a “choice journal prompt.”

Students will then examine and evaluate the Virginia Plan and New Jersey Plan.

Students will determine which plan is better for organizing the national government and how protecting/promoting the common good is addressed in both plans by completing a guided reading strategy or graphic organizer. Civic dispositions targeted in this lesson are reflected in the student friendly learning targets.
1.    I can be accountable to my learning community, to knowledge and to rigorous thinking, as I participate in group discussions.
2.    I can work with others, demonstrating negotiation and compromise, civility and critical mindedness, to determine the advantages and disadvantages of the Articles of Confederation to states and the national government.
3.    I can demonstrate critical mindedness and civility as I work with a group to analyze the differences between the Virginia and the New Jersey Plans as a means to organize the U.S. Government protect state interests and promote the common good.
4.    I can demonstrate courage, critical mindedness, open mindedness and civility as I evaluate the plans and defend my choice of the best plan for the organization of the United States Government.
Lesson 4 Resources
4B          Articles of Confederation
4C          Virginia Plan
4E          Accountable Talk Rubric
4G          The Great Compromise

Lesson 5
           “Three Branches of US Government"                                     2 Days

Lesson Essential Question(s):
1.    How does the U.S. Constitution reflect the principles of check and balances and separation of powers and how do the governance documents of other organizations reflect these principles?
2.    How do these principles of shared powers and checks and balances protect the common good?
3.    In this lesson,
4.    Students will review and develop a deeper understanding of why the Framers formed a government with three branches with separate powers, by creating a chart and/or doing a scavenger hunt. They will then look at why the Framers created checks and balances to protect the common good by participating in a class game in which
Students will analyze the powers and checks and balances of the national government to promote the common good.

Students will also identify and explain the powers given to governing bodies and their distribution from the students selected organization’s governance document(s) (social contract). Civic dispositions targeted in the lesson are reflected in the student friendly learning targets.
1.    I can demonstrate civility, open mindedness and critical mindedness when working in a group to discuss the principles of shared powers and checks and balances of the Constitution and how each protects individual rights and the common good.
2.    I can work with partners to analyze, with civility and persistence, the Constitution. (primary source document)
3.    I can demonstrate civility when working with a group to discuss the ways in which the branches interact with one another.
4.    I can analyze with persistence my organization’s governance document (social contract).
Lesson 5 Resources
5A         Constitution Scavenger Hunt
5D         Headlines Game

Lesson 6
           “Amending the Constitution: The Amendment Process"            1 Day

Lesson Essential Question(s):
1.    Why does the US Constitution, Article V, include a formal amendment process? Formally changing the US Constitution is specifically outlined in Article V of the U.S. Constitution.
Students will be able to identify the methods of proposal and ratification of formal amendments.

Students will recognize that amendments are ratified because of societal needs and their ability to address the common good. Understanding formal change and why it is necessary to protect the common good will enable the student to analyze his/her selected organization governance document to see how it can be changed/amended. Civic dispositions targeted in this lesson are reflected in the student friendly learning targets.
1.    I can analyze with persistence my organization’s governing document to determine the formal process for amending the document.
2.    I can identify the two methods of proposal and two methods of ratification of formal amendments to the US Constitution and demonstrate civility as I work with my partner to explain the formal amendment process using my graphic organizers.
3.    I can demonstrate critical mindedness as I categorize Amendments 11-27 according to societal needs (political, social/cultural, economic, suffrage) and explain how they protect/promote the common good.
Lesson 6 Resources
6A       Think-Pair-Share

Lesson 7
           “Amending the Constitution: Change Over Time"                   2 Days

Lesson Essential Question(s):
1.    In what ways do societal needs create formal changes to the U.S. Constitution? In small groups
Students will look at six proposed amendments to the U.S. Constitution that have been submitted to the states but have not been ratified.

Students will discuss what influenced the proposal and what prevented their ratification.

Students will also specifically discuss, with the denial of ratification, how the proposed amendments did or did not promote the common good. Finally,

Students will review amendments recently proposed in Congress and explain why the proposed amendment of his/her choice should be ratified and how the proposed amendment does or does not promote the common good by using their verbal linguistic or visual linguistic intelligences.

Students will also analyze their selected organization’s governance document and identify if there is a formal amendment process. Civic dispositions targeted in this lesson are reflected in the student friendly learning targets.
1.    I can demonstrate civility, open mindedness, and negotiation and compromise as I work with my group to describe how changes in societal needs impact formal changes to the U.S. Constitution and reach a group consensus as to how these changes promote the common good.
2.    I can demonstrate critical thinking to explain how a recently proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution did or did not promote the common good.
Lesson 7 Resources

Lesson 8
         “Amending the Constitution: Informal Amendments”                  1 Day

Lesson Essential Question(s):
1.    Why are the informal changes to the U.S. Constitution essential to meeting the needs of society?
Students will learn that informal amendments occur much more regularly than formal amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

Students will learn that informal amendments occur much more regularly than formal amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The teacher will lead students to discuss how the Constitution has been informally amended.

Students will work together to analyze historical situations in which change has occurred and decide if an informal or formal change would best promote the common good. At the end of the lesson,

Students will be asked to demonstrate their understanding of the informal changes made to the U.S. Constitution through a choice board activity.

Students will then see how informal amendments have/have not occurred within their organization’s governance document by conducting an interview (optional). Civic dispositions targeted in this lesson are reflected in the student friendly learning targets.
1.    I can identify and explain examples of informal amendments within the U.S. Constitution and how they meet the needs of society in order to promote the common good.
2.    I can demonstrate persistence and critical mindedness while I work with a partner to analyze effective ways to change the Constitution and explain how those changes promote the common good.
Lesson 8 Resources

Lesson 9
           “Amending the Constitution: Judicial Review"                        2 Days

Lesson Essential Question(s):
1.    Why do United States courts use judicial review?
Students will learn that in addition to the previously studied informal ways to change the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. Constitution can also be changed by a process called judicial review.

Students will create a Frayer model graphic organizer for the term judicial review.

Students will also learn about two specific Supreme Court decisions that have changed the meaning of the Constitution. At the end of this lesson,

Students will complete the end of unit assessment. Civic dispositions targeted in this lesson are reflected in the student friendly learning targets.
1.    I can use critical mindedness to interpret and explain historical examples of U.S. Supreme Court decisions that led to the informal amending of the U.S. Constitution to protect individual rights and to promote the common good.
2.    I can demonstrate persistence as I evaluate the importance of judicial review as it expands the meaning of the U.S. Constitution and promotes the common good.
3.    I can demonstrate courage and critical mindedness by ranking and justifying how Supreme Court cases have promoted the common good.
4.    I can demonstrate critical mindedness and persistence as I complete my analytical paper for the end of unit assessment.
Lesson 9 Resources
 
Lesson study is a professional development practice in which teachers collaborate to develop/refine a lesson plan, teach, observe the lesson to collect data on student learning and use the observations to refine the lesson. Leading Lesson Study, Stepaneck, Appel, Zleong, Mangan, & Mitchell (2007) The lesson study process allows teachers to reflect on how students learn content and what teachers can do to improve student content mastery and engagement. This 30 minute video introduces the lesson study process and shows the practices involved as Kentucky teachers take part in lesson study through the Kentucky Teacher Network for Excellence in Civic Education and Civic Engagement.
Jennifer Fraker
Office of Next-Generation Learners
Division of Program Standards
500 Mero Street, 18th Floor CPT
Frankfort, KY 40601
(502) 564-2106
Fax (502) 564-9848