Lesson Plan: U.S. Government


Objectives: The students will

I. Become familiar with the course requirements and class procedures for US Government and relate this process to the development of the US Constitution.

II. Receive instructional materials and be instructed on how to use them.

III. Identify areas of American life that are influenced by and have an influence on American Government.

Curriculum Connections: The objectives above relate to these objectives in our US Government Curriculum:

8.22 Work cooperatively with others in a variety of situations. (SFS 5.2)

1.01 Analyze the documentary and conceptual evolution of the U.S. government to determine its basic development. (Goal I PS I A 1 a) (SFS 3.2)

1.02 Define the purposes of government. (Goal I PS I A 1) (SFS 2.2)

Teambuilding Activity: Forming Groups by Silent Classification

The goal is to have students get into groups with cards that have something in common. These groups can then be used for subsequent activities.

A) Develop five or six sets of cards with four cards in each set (the number of sets of cards is determined by the number of students in the class divided by four. 25 students would require 6 sets of cards, leaving one student to work with another set of four students).

B) Here are some suggested card groups:

Mercury Venus Earth Mars
Washington Lincoln Roosevelt Kennedy
New York Chicago Los Angeles Houston
Car Computer Television Telephone
Pearl Jam Smash Mouth Dave Matthews The Beatles
Israel Iraq Egypt Saudi Arabia

These cards can be viewed in larger form by clicking on this link. Then print the page and cut them up for easy distribution, or save the page and edit it yourself in a web page editor.

C) Distribute the cards randomly. Have students place the card they receive on the back of their neighbor using a small piece of tape.

D) Students must classify themselves without talking. The trick is to have the students guide each other into their appropriate groups.

Classbuilding Activity: What do You Want To Accomplish This School Year?

A) Have students create a personal list of five goals they hope to achieve during this school year.

B) Have students list three additional goals they want to achieve in your class. Suggest these goals might include the following topics:

1) Topics to learn about.
2) Activities in which to engage.
3) Skills which they would like to gain.

C) Tell the students that you (the teacher) will develop your own list of personal and class goals for the year (or semester).

Have the goals ready for display on an overhead or on the board. Here are some suggested professional and classroom goals:

Class Goals:

1) Have 80% or more of the students in the class pass the final exam and state exit exam.
2) Have 90% or more of the students in the class pass the class for the year (receiving a passing credit)
3) Develop at least one web project that can be placed on the school's web site as an example of student learning using computers and the Internet.

Personal/Professional Goals

1) Treat each student with respect, as though each student were my own child.
2) Work out conflicts with students by talking with them, arriving at mutually acceptable solutions, thereby avoiding the need to refer the student to the administration.
3) Call the parents of individual students when the student has achieved high perfomance on class assignments or activities, and if needed, to call parents before problems become serious.
4) To provide a variety of learning activities while stressing skills called for by the county and state course outlines.
5) To arrange for one major class field trip, possibly to (enter your suggestion) the Holocaust Museum, the Capitol, and/or the White House.

D) Combining Student and Teacher Goals

I. Have students form goups of four.
II. Instruct students to share their class goals with each other in groups and have them develop a goal that the group agrees is the most important.
III. Have each group share their goal with the class. Each group should explain why they feel their goal is important.
IV. List all group goals and discuss their importance. Post the final list with a poster that can be displayed on the wall.

Warm Up Activity: Why Study Government?

A) Have students list orally all of the services government provides. Place student responses on the board.

B) Ask the students what society might be like if there were no form of government. Discuss the roles that government plays in our society.

C) Place the following three terms on the board:

FEDERAL                                 STATE                                LOCAL

Have students place their previous responses under what they believe is the correct column. Then carry out the process as a class and allow the students to correct their own papers and keep for further reference.

Main Activity:  Establishing a Class Constitution
Click on image at right to see a clearer version. Use your
browser's back button to return to this page.

A) After students have received the teacher's grading policy, students will help establish classroom procedures by creating a  Class Constitution.

B) Have students brainstorm all the issues that effect learning in a classroom. List issues and rules on the board.

C) Divide the class into groups of four students. Have student-groups develop a written rule for the five most important classroom issues according to the wishes of their group. This means each group must first prioritize their agenda, and then they must develop a rule that is realistic and that has a suggested set of consequences. Inform them that they will vote on competing bills, and that like the President, the teacher has veto power (and can also reject part of a bill as in a "line item" veto).

D) Collect suggested rules. Debate them in class. Allow students to discuss the votes for 5 minutes privately in order to "trade votes" and lobby each other. Have students vote on the bills. Amend them to fit school policies and procedures. Develop them into a class constitution.

Note: the process must be repeated for each class you have. As Chief Executive, you can integrate the best of each classes' bills into one document, and then present the final document for "ratification" to the individual classes later. The teacher must have final approval over all bills.

Another note: If you have a Class Constitution in place, the same process can be done to "amend" the existing constitution. Have each class become a "state" holding a constitutional convention. When 3/4 of all the classes vote in favor of a constitution, it is ratified. Keep the teacher's veto power, but indicate that this is a major difference between the simulation and reality because the President has no place n the amendment process.


Wrap-Up Activity: Government In The News

A) Present today's newspaper to the students. Read aloud several headlines or place them on an overhead.

B) Have students discuss how the government is involved in the headlines you selected.  Choose several that do not have a governmental application. See if students can make a connection where none existed, or if they can recognize that there may not be a governmental connection to everything.

C) Encourage students to watch the national and local news broadcasts and to read the local newspapers. Their chances of success in the course will be greatly improved if they are attentive to the news.
Enrichment: The American Citizenship Test

Have your students try their hand at the test that immigrants must take to become American citizens. A sample of the test can be found on the web site of the Immigration and Naturalization Service at http://www.ins.gov/graphics/exec/natz/natztest.asp

Evaluation: The lesson will be evaluated by:

I. the accuracy of student's written responses;

II. student's scores on future tests and quizzes.


Teachers: Visit our sponsor for Social Studies Materials

Ordering teaching materials through
this website will help keep it alive.

George Cassutto's Cyberlearning World

     [Lesson Plan of the Day]     [Cassutto Memorial]    [About the Author]    [Search]    [Civics Lesson Plans]