• CC Basics Social Studies, pages 38 - 43



  • Explain the ways in which national and state governments are alike and different

  • Identify the different levels and forms of local government

  • Distinguish between the various forms of city government

Key Concept

  • State and local governments have powers and duties not granted to the federal government.


Tier 2 contradict
Tier 3 direct initiative
referendum information
Test Words relevant

Evidence-Based Reading

  • Comprehension: Ask Questions: As students read this section on state governments, have them identify the main idea of each paragraph. Tell students to ask questions as they read, such as Who? What? Why? When? Tell them to look for the answers to their questions as they read the paragraph. They will find these answers in the supporting facts and details.

Research It

  • Extend Your Knowledge: Tell students to be careful when doing online research. Explain that not all websites are reliable or factual. Students should focus on official websites that end in .gov, .org, or .edu. Some local governments’ websites may not have these URL endings, but most towns and cities do have an official website. When students have completed their research, invite them to share their findings with the class. Then ask students if they know anyone who is active in local government. If they do, ask them to describe for the class the political activities in which that person is involved.

Writing Practice

  • Students’ summaries should clearly state the main ideas of the section in a logical order but should not include the supporting details.

Before Lesson

Students have learned how the national government is structured. Ask students to describe what they know about the structure of their state and local government. If they struggle, give suggestions: the executive head of the state government is the governor, the executive head of a town or city is a mayor, and so on. Tell students that across most of the country, the state legislative body is called either the State Legislature or the General Assembly. Explain that in this lesson, students will learn more about state and local governments.


Explain that under the Constitution, all powers not given to the federal government are given to the states and to local governments. Have students suggest some powers their state or local governments have, such as taxation, maintaining roads, and establishing schools.

Guided Practice

  • Who Has Power?
    • State Governments
    • Local Governments

Core Skill

Judge the Relevance of Information: Tell students that when they write, they should think about which details are important to their main point and which are not. They should include only those that are important. Make sure students recognize that President Obama’s adoption of Bo, the Obama’s family dog, is not relevant to his goals and achievements as president. Ask students when this detail would be relevant. They might suggest that this detail would be more appropriate in an article about his family life as president.

Identify Facts and Details: Point out that graphic organizers like a Venn diagram are another useful way of taking notes. When students have completed their Venn diagrams, invite two or three volunteers to recreate their diagrams on the board. Use these as the basis for a class review of the lesson content.


Compare Governments: Explain to students that the United States has three basic levels of government: local, state, and federal. Use a table to break down each level, listing its powers and duties. Assess student understanding by having them create a Venn diagram based on the table, showing which powers and duties are distinct to two levels and which ones overlap. Allow students to use their notes on the lesson for this Activity

Collect and Display: Information Have students’ research information about the history of their local government, focusing on important issues, challenges, and people. Then have students form groups and combine their findings to create a group time line showing the history of the local government. If possible, students’ research should cover at least the past hundred years. Encourage each group to determine cause and effect in events that occurred within their government. For example: a change in zoning laws (laws that separate residential neighborhoods from commercial areas) may have inspired a growth in the community’s businesses. Invite the groups to display their time lines and compare the information contained in them.

Lesson Review