G Unit 2 – Three Branches of Government

Unit Title

Structure and Function of the Federal Government

Content Statements Addressed

  • G 14, G 15, G 4, G 5, G 21, G 22

Essential Questions

  • How do the principles of checks and balances and separation of powers help define the government of the United States?
  • What factors impact the interactions among the three branches of government?

Learning Targets

  • Identify the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government
  • Define the roles, powers, and responsibilities for each of the three branches of government
  • Define persuasion, compromise, consensus building, and negotiation.
  • Define civic issue
  • Define public policy
  • Analyze a public policy issue in terms of collaboration or conflict among the levels of government involved and the branches of government involved.
  • Analyze the political dynamics involved through a historical or contemporary example of an interaction among two or three branches of the federal government.
  • Take different positions on public policy issues and determine an approach for providing effective input to the appropriate level and branch (agency) of the government.
  • Compare the powers and responsibilities of each branch of government as they pertain to law and public policy.


  • Public Policy
  • Persuasion, compromise, consensus building, negotiation
  • Bicameral legislative, reapportionment, redistrict, gerrymander, at-large, incumbent, constituents, caucus, quorum, filibuster, cloture, legislative veto, impoundment, appropriation, lobbyist, congressional override
  • Presidential succession, cabinet, mandate, executive order, reprieve, pardon, amnesty, treaty, executive agreement, bureaucrats, civil service system, Pendleton Act, iron triangle, 22nd amendment, 12th amendment, Executive Office of the President (EOP)
  • Jurisdiction, original jurisdiction, appellate jurisdiction, due process clause, litigant, Marbury v. Madison, judicial review, judicial circuit, writ of certiorari, per curiam opinion, brief, amicus curaie, majority opinon, dissenting opinion, stare decisis, precedent

Learning Strategies

  • Using the excerpts of Articles I, II, and III identify the checks and balances between the legislative, executive, and judicial branch.
  • Students will recognize each of the seven roles of the president as displayed in news articles and media photos.
  • Students will identify the congressional qualifications and rewrite what they believe are the most important qualifications for a member of Congress
  • Using Federalist No. 78 in the Will of the People book, students will examine how the Founders viewed the judicial branch
  • Using Federalist No. 57 and 62 students will examine how the Founders viewed the role of the legislative branch.
  • Gerrymandering activity
  • Chart of the federal court system: create a visual that shows the structure of the federal court system, including names of courts and functions of each level.
  • Class discussion: “What do judges use to make their decisions, or what do they base their decisions on?”. Students write down ideas and they circle laws and precedents.
  • You Be the Judge: students read through a case and write an explanation, three opinions (majority, concurring, and dissenting),  on their decision of the issue.

Diverse Learners Strategies

  • Find a news article that describes an interaction between two of the three branches of government
  • Create a political cartoon that displays the interactions among the branches of government
  • Design an app for Apple related to the government. Students will explain what the app does as well as what someone will learn from using the app.
  • Create a Prezi that shows a historical or contemporary example of interactions among two or three of the branches of the federal government.

Assessment Evidence

  • Legislative Quiz
  • President and Congress Quiz
  • Three Branches Quiz
  • Three Branches Layered Curriculum


  • Will of the People book
  • Mr. Smith Goes to Washington