Politics and People: U.S. Government

Students explore the structure of the American government, the three branches of government, the history of women's suffrage, and read biographies about famous Americans who fought for change.

Unit Summary

This unit serves as a foundation for understanding the way in which the American government was formed and the way it is structured. The unit has three main sections. In the first section, students learn about the functions of government, the three main branches of government, and how the branches work together to meet the ever-changing needs of our country. In this section, students will be challenged to think about how government is useful to its citizens and about the key powers of each branch. In the second section, students explore elections and how people become elected officials. Students also explore the women's suffrage movement, why women couldn't vote before 1920, and what changes brought about women's suffrage in the United States. Finally, in the third section, students read biographies of a few courageous individuals who overcame racism, sexism, and hardships to prove that they deserved a spot in government and that they would do whatever it takes to fight for and push for change. During this final section, students will be challenged to think about how the actions of others can inspire us to drive for change.

This unit expands on the work done in units 1 and 2 to build reading skills. Students will continue to develop their skills as critical consumers of a text by annotating for main idea and details that support the main idea of a text, summarizing sections of a text, explaining the connection between ideas and concepts, interpreting information presented through different text features, and describing the structure of different paragraphs. In this unit students will also be challenged to think about how an author uses evidence and reasoning to support particular points or ideas in a text. They will also be challenged to integrate information from one text with information they learn in another text about the same topic.

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Texts and Materials

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Core Materials

Supporting Materials

Assessment

These assessments accompany this unit to help gauge student understanding of key unit content and skills. Additional progress monitoring suggestions are included throughout the unit.

Unit Prep

Essential Questions

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  • What is the Constitution of the United States? Why is it important? 
  • What are the main functions of each branch of the United States government? 
  • Why couldn't women vote before 1920? What changes brought about women's suffrage in the United States? 
  • How can courageous individuals create and drive change? 

Vocabulary

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Text-based

abolitionist advise adjourn amendment articulate authority branch cabinet candidates campaign contradict constitution compromise consultation desegregation debates democracy deliberate debate economic enforce evoke executive exposure federal freedoms humiliated interpretation inferior justice majority mockery nominee optimism passive pessimism pivotal plea president publicity ratify radical revelation representatives ridicule sacrifice separation secretary segregation strategically sympathetic taunt unanimous vision

Root/Affix

-ism -ist -ment -tion de- en-

To see all the vocabulary for this course, view our 4th Grade Vocabulary Glossary.

Content Knowledge and Connections

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Lesson Map

1

  • Building a Nation pp. 1 – 9

    RI.4.2

    RI.4.3

Explain the fatal flaws of the Articles of Confederation.

8

  • Ntl. Gov't p. 30

    RI.4.3

Explain how laws are made and why there are so many steps.

17

  • Roses and Radicals pp. 129 – 146

    RI.4.2

    RI.4.3

Summarize the final battle for the right to vote.

26

Discussion & Writing

  • All unit texts

    SL.4.1

Debate and analyze unit-essential questions. 

27

Assessment

Common Core Standards

Core Standards

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RI.4.2

RI.4.3

RI.4.5

RI.4.7

RI.4.8

RI.4.9

SL.4.1

SL.4.2

W.4.1

W.4.1.a

W.4.1.b

W.4.2

W.4.2.a

W.4.2.b

W.4.2.c

W.4.2.e

W.4.7

W.4.8

Supporting Standards

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L.4.1

L.4.1.b

L.4.1.f

L.4.2

L.4.2.c

L.4.3

L.4.4

L.4.4.b

L.4.6

RF.4.3

RF.4.4

RI.4.1

RI.4.10

RI.4.4

W.4.10

W.4.4

W.4.5

W.4.6

W.4.9.b