Materials

Standards

Objectives

  • Identify the factors that led to the Constitutional Convention

  • Describe some of the compromises in the Constitution

  • Identify the role and duties of the president

  • Compare and contrast the two houses of Congress

  • Explain how the federal judicial system functions

Key Concept

  • Changes and compromises were needed to create and pass the US Constitution.

Vocabulary

Tier 2 category
delegate
function
guarantee
imbalance
Tier 3 checks and balances
judicial review
separation of powers
veto
Test Words compare
contrast
paraphrase

21st Century Skill

  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving: Ask students to identify the problem that supporters of the Constitution faced in trying to get it passed. (Sample answer: pressure from the people to add measures protecting the people’s rights and freedoms) Ask students whether they believe the framers of the Constitution came up with an effective solution. If there is dissent, divide the class into two groups - one that approves of the framers’ solution and one that does not. Ask each group to discuss and list members’ arguments. Then moderate a debate between the two groups.

Before Lesson

Explain that countries usually describe and create rules for their governments in written documents. Write the Preamble to the US Constitution on the board:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Ask students to identify the goals of the Constitution’s authors as stated in the Preamble. List those goals on the board. (Sample answers: unify the country, maintain order, set up and maintain a military force, help people in need, safeguard citizens freedoms)

Background

Divide the class into two groups. Ask each group to plan a party. Tell them to decide on a theme, food, and activities; however, explain that all group members must agree. Give groups several minutes to plan. Then ask for a volunteer from each group to summarize what happened and whether it was possible to reach an agreement. Explain that after the American Revolution, states had to work together to form a unified government. Because each state had previously had its own form of government and laws, this was not an easy task. It involved changes and compromises.

Explain to students that prior to the American Revolution, each American colony had a unique relationship with Britain. After the Revolution, the new states had to learn to work together. Each state had its own form of government, economy, and laws. Have students discuss in groups how this is different from today. Invite groups to share their answers. Point out that differences among the states led to disagreements which required compromises in order to create a unified country with a strong central government.

Guided Practice

  • The US Constitution
  • Key Principles of the Constitution
  • Amendments to the Constitution

Extension

Have each student make a two-column chart on paper. One column should be labeled Roles, and the other column should be labeled Responsibilities. Ask students to list roles they have on their job or at home. Then ask ask each student to list responsibilities that go along with their roles. Have students form small groups to share their lists and to discuss how roles and responsibilities differ depending on the job. Point out that the roles and responsibilities of the federal and state governments differ, too.

Investigate Structure and Function: Divide students into small groups. Assign each group a specific branch of government. Have each group investigate its assigned branch and create a flow chart displaying the structure and functions of that branch of government. Remind students to use visual cues such as position, lines, and colors to illustrate patterns and relationships.

Items to include:

  • Constitutional Article (I, II, III)
  • Organizational chart (flow-chart)
  • Roles and responsibilities

Lesson Review

Structure of American Government: Common Core Exercise, Lesson 1.3