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Samantha Szumigalski and John Yauger

Title of Lesson: Checks and Balances and Popular Sovereignty

Grade Level(s): 7th
Common Core State Standards, PA Academic Standards, and Assessment
Anchors (where applicable):
5.1.7.D: Summarize the basic principles and ideals within documents and the roles
played by the framers as found in significant documents:
--The United States Constitution
8.3.7.A: Classify the social, political, cultural, and economic contributions of
individuals and groups throughout United States history.
8.3.7.B: Examine the importance of significant historical documents, artifacts, and
places critical to United States history.

Enduring Understanding(s): Students will understand that the principles of the

Constitution were a reflection of the continuity and change of the nation.

Essential Question(s): How might we reach an understanding about the continuity

and change of the nation in relation to the principles of the Constitution?
Content (Code)

Objectives (Code)

Formative Assessments (Code)

Day Three
3. principles necessary for our
a. separation of powers
b. checks and balances
c. popular sovereignty

Day Three
3.a-b. Illustrate how separation of
powers and checks and balances
work cohesively
3.c. Define popular sovereignty

Day Three
3.a-b.Worksheet- separation
of powers and checks and
3.a-c.Questions- separation of
powers, checks and balances,
and popular sovereignty
3.c.Take out the door- popular

Procedures (Include and Label ALL Components: DETAILED:

Lesson Beginning (Motivation, Review, Overview)
Review: Q: Do you guys remember if the Articles of Confederation had a
strong state government or a strong national government?
Answer: strong state government

Q: Do you guys remember if the Constitution had a strong national

government or a strong state government?
Answer: strong national government
Overview: Today we will be continuing our discussion of the change that was
taking place during the time of the emergence of the Constitution. We will be
discussing certain principles that emerged due to the attitudes of the people of
the United States at this time. We will also be discussing popular sovereignty and
how it contributed to the emergence of the Constitution.
Motivation: PowerPoint: Picture of a seesaw projected on the board
Question: How does a seesaw work?
o Two children sit on each end and push each other up and down
Question: Can it only go up and down?
o The two kids can balance the seesaw to make it straight
Very good
As we discuss the way our government is set up, I want you to think how
this seesaw can relate to our government.
Lesson Development
We have brought to class our very own "power scale". This scale will show
us how power is distributed in our government.
Let's say that the right side of the scale are the powers of the federal
government and the left side represents the powers of the state
Question: What would the "power scale" look like based on the powers
designated by the Articles of Confederation?
The state government side, the left side, would be weighed down
Exactly, but in our government system today, our "power scale" is evenly
balanced, just like our example with the seesaw. So what has changed?
Question: Does anyone know any principles that made our government
this way?
(Possible responses) Checks and balances and separation of
***Possible teacher scaffolding, I'll give you a hint class, it was on the
first slide of our PowerPoint in the beginning of the lesson.**
Exactly, and we can understand how checks and balances work by
thinking of our seesaw example and using our power scale. Now, we have
already learned that one of the problems with the Articles of Confederation
was that the power scale was very unbalanced between the state and
federal governments. The founding fathers avoided this unevenness by
establishing the three separate branches that we have in our government
today, but we will talk more about the roles of these branches and who's in
charge of them tomorrow.

We will however, discuss the principle of checks and balances that the
founding fathers established so that one branch could not gain authority
over another branch. Each branch has different powers, but we are going
to see the each power weighs the same. I am going to give you a
worksheet to fill out as we discuss how checks and balances play a part in
every branch of our government.
Looking at the worksheet we are going to start in the top-left section which
describes the roles of the president
Question: What is the first blank in the top-left
Exactly, one of the roles of the president is to make treaties with other
countries. The president also carries out laws, which is the second blank
in the section.
Question: What power does the president have when a law comes to him
that he doesn't like?
Veto power
Correct, the president also has the power to write the budget as well
Now moving the right part of the worksheet which discussing some of
Congress's checks on the president's power
The first check on the president's power that we see is that Congress has
the right to modify any treaties or budget that the president designs.
Question: what portion of votes in congress is the minimum that can be
had to override a president's veto?
Question: What is it called when Congress "fires" the president if they
think he is not ruling in the best interest of the county?
Question: Why do you think the founding fathers added this check on the
president's power?
So the president could not become a tyrant in the government and
realizes that his power is in check
Question: Can anyone show me on our power scale how the check and
balance of veto power would look?
The student will show that the executive branch and the legislative
branch are balanced on the power scale.
Very good, we have now seen an example of how the executive branch's
power is checked by the legislative branch.
Moving down the worksheet we will examine how the judicial branch is
checked by the legislative branch.
Question: What does the judicial branch interpret?

Correct, it is their job to see if any laws go against the Constitution, which
we will talk about more in tomorrow's lesson.
Question: Which branch of government passes laws?
Exactly, the legislative branch also has the power to approve presidential
appointments for judges and justices and they can also remove judges
based on evidence of misconduct.
Question: So how is power checked between the judicial branch and the
legislative branch?
The legislative branch makes the laws, but the judicial branch
interprets the laws.
Question: Can anyone show me on the power scale?
Student will show how on the scale how the power of laws is evenly
balanced between the legislative and judicial branch?
Very good, so once again our power scale would be in perfect balance.
Finally, we the worksheet shows us how the executive and judicial
branches check and balance each other
The executive branch, or the president appoints judges for life-time term,
while the judicial branch can prove laws to be unconstitutional and can say
that the decisions that president makes go against the constitution.
So, our power scale would be evenly balanced between the executive
branch and the judicial branch because the president has the power to
make decisions for our nation, and the judicial branch can determine if
those decisions are unconstitutional.
Question: Why would the founding fathers establish a system of checks
and balances?
So one branch of government couldn't gain power over another
Lesson Ending (Review, Preview, Closure)
Closure: Please before you leave, take time to fill out the exit slip by answering
the following questions.
Put up PowerPoint on board with questions the students need to fill out.
Review: Today we have seen how the founding fathers avoided one branch
dominating the other branches of government through the principal of checks and
balances. This again was a reflection of the attitudes had by the founding fathers
after the failure of the Articles of Confederation. We also looked at the
importance of popular sovereignty and how it's influence on the Constitution.
Preview: Tomorrow we will be learning more about the three separate branches
of government and how they use these checks and balances we have discussed
today. We will also take a look at the different state and federal representation
propositions that were considered, and how we reached the representation
procedure we use today. We will also be looking at the attitudes of the different
political groups during this time in regards to the emergence of the Constitution
and how they contributed to the change and continuity of the nation.

Meaningful Student Involvement (Indicate how the students will be

meaningfully engaged in the lesson):
Students will be meaningfully involved in the beginning of the lesson by
visually seeing what it means to be balanced. They will use past experiences of
being on seesaw to relate to how are government is set up. Students will then be
involved as they fill out the worksheet of different checks and balances during the
lesson. They will have constant visual aids from the balance scale provided.
Students will also be engaged as they fill out their exits slips discussing things
that they have learned and things they are confused on.
Special Adaptations/Modifications: There are no required special adaptations
or modifications for this lesson. All students will have a enough background
knowledge from the previous lesson to successful throughout this lesson if the
students actively pay attention and participate.
Anticipated Difficulties AND Modifications:
Technology: If the PowerPoint or projector does not work, students will have to
use prior experience to visualize a seesaw in a playground.
Materials: If the school or teacher could not get a balance scale for the lesson
the teacher would either have to make a homemade one, or draw it for visual aid
on the board.
Reluctant students: Students who are not attentively listening throughout the
lesson could have trouble filling out the worksheet and aiding the class
discussion. More teacher scaffolding and direct instruction would help this
Physical Structure: Students will be in their assigned seats for the entire lesson
making sure that they can see the scale at the front of the classroom.
Materials: PowerPoint, balance scale, weights, worksheet, pencils, chalk, and
take out the door slip.
References (2)