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Friday, March 16, 2012

Social Studies - Branches of Government

For our social studies unit on Branches of Government, I started by placing a blank tree with three branches on the dry erase board we used for displaying current classroom content. We added content to the branches as we learned it. It followed the same graphic organizer that would be on their post-assessment that had come from their textbook. I will upload the headers and leaf pictures to be borrowed later. Each day after school I would remove what we had placed on the tree. We reinforced this graphic organizer by adding the elements we knew so far at the start of each lesson. This was especially helpful to the visual learners. 

Once we discussed the community government and Federal Government, I asked the students to write one characteristic or responsibility of a good leader on a puzzle piece. They had some very creative ideas.

To reinforce true and false statements about the President of the United States, I gave the students the paper below. 

I then had the students participate in a Think - Pair - Share. As we read aloud the statements, I gave the students time to think about whether the statement was true or false. Next, they cut apart the strips and sorted with a partner into true and false piles. (We also had an interesting discussion about how to fairly cut these apart since there is an odd number!) Finally, we shared as a class which statements were true and false. 

At the end of the unit, we had a mock Supreme Court day in which the students had a chance to be Supreme Court Justices and law makers. The issues we voted on were whether the school should have a new school mascot and whether the school needed a new playground.

The groups of students each got a chance to write down their ideas and present  their side of the issue. This developed their critical thinking skills as they sometimes had to defend an issue they did not agree with. 

The students each had a chance to be a Supreme Court Justice and decide which group made the best arguments for or against an issue. I even wore an old graduation gown and brought a gavel to make the classroom court more realistic.