Wayne RESA
Unit Abstract

This unit provides students with an opportunity to review essential civics and government concepts learned in previous grades. It also establishes a common foundation that sets the stage for deeper discussions about government throughout the year as students explore the question: Why is the federal government organized to give and to limit power? Students begin by examining what life would be like in the absence of government and hypothesize about the reasons people form governments. Next, students review core democratic values and principles upon which our government is based and investigate how they are rooted in the organization of the federal government. In doing so, concepts such as limited government, popular sovereignty, rule of law, and individual rights are stressed. Students analyze and explain how the Preamble to the Constitution reflects the purposes of government and explore other parts of the Constitution for evidence of federalism, limited government, and individual rights. In learning about federalism, students compare the powers delegated to the federal government and those reserved to the states (or the people). Contemporary examples of government in action are used throughout the unit. Moreover, this unit provides teachers with the opportunity to connect classroom rules with ideas about government, including why people form governments, what happens without rules or laws, and the importance of the rule of law. Finally, this unit allows for a seamless connection to Constitution Day, which is required by federal law.


Stage One - Desired Results

Compelling Question

Why is the federal government organized to give and to limit power?

Supporting Questions
  1. Why do we have both state and federal governments?
  2. How are core democratic values and constitutional principles reflected in our government?
  3. How is our government organized to give and to limit power?
Content (Key Concepts)

checks and balances




individual rights

limited government

popular sovereignty

purposes of government

rule of law

separation of powers



Skills (Intellectual Processes)

Stage Two - Assessment Evidence

Unit Assessment Tasks

Stage Three - Learning Plan

Lesson Plan Sequence
  • Chart paper
  • Construction paper
  • Glue or Tape
  • Highlighters
  • Markers or crayons
  • Overhead projector or document camera and projector
  • Scissors, Spiral notebooks or a folder with paper, one per student
MI: ELA & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, & Technical Subjects K-5
MI: Grade 5
Reading: Informational Text
Key Ideas and Details
1. Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
RI.5.1. Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
3. Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.
RI.5.3. Explain the relationships or interactions between two or more individuals, events, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text based on specific information in the text.
Craft and Structure
4. Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.
RI.5.4. Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 5 topic or subject area.
2. Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
W.5.2. Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
Production and Distribution of Writing
4. Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
W.5.4. Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1–3 above.)
Speaking and Listening
Comprehension and Collaboration
1. Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
SL.5.1. Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 5 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
MI: Social Studies (2007)
4th Grade
Civics & Government
C1 Purposes of Government
Explain why people create governments.
4 – C1.0.2 Explain probable consequences of an absence of government and of rules and laws.
C2 Values and Principles of American Democracy
Understand values and principles of American constitutional democracy.
4 – C2.0.1 Explain how decisions can be made or how conflicts might be resolved in fair and just ways
(e.g., majority rules).
C3 Structure and Functions of Government
Describe the structure of government in the United States and how it functions to serve citizens.
4 – C3.0.2 Give examples of powers granted to the federal government (e.g., coining of money, declaring war) and those reserved for the states (e.g., driver’s license, marriage license).
4 – C3.0.3 Describe the organizational structure of the federal government in the United States (legislative, executive, and judicial branches).
4 – C3.0.4 Describe how the powers of the federal government are separated among the branches.
4 – C3.0.5 Give examples of how the system of checks and balances limits the power of the federal government (e.g., presidential veto of legislation, courts declaring a law unconstitutional, congressional approval of judicial appointments).
5th Grade
US History & Geography
U3.3 Creating New Government(s) and a New Constitution
Explain some of the challenges faced by the new nation under the Articles of Confederation, and analyze the development of the Constitution as a new plan for governing.
Hide details
Grades 5 & 8
5 – U3.3.6 Describe the principle of federalism and how it is expressed through the sharing and distribution of power as stated in the Constitution (e.g., enumerated and reserved powers).
© Copyright 2010. National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and Council of Chief State School Officers. All rights reserved.
Wayne RESA