“I’m the fourth branch!”

three branchesI’ve never felt like I did a great job teaching eighth graders about the government, so I’m trying to change that this year! I’m extending my unit to dive deeper into the anatomy of the constitution, federalism, the Bill of Rights, and citizenship. Most recently, students learned about the three branches of government, and I asked them to consider how they could act as “the fourth branch” of the U.S. government by getting involved with their representatives.

I wish I could claim the “fourth branch” idea, but it really came from iCivics, an awesome resource for engaging lessons and games. On the first day, students used the textbook to build background knowledge about the three branches. Students spent another day creating pictures notes (see photo) explaining the branches which they also presented to their peers. On the third day of the lesson, after a short quiz, students spent part of class using a graphic organizer to analyze what each branch does and noting how their voice could affect each branch. From there, we looked at some mock letters to representatives and students analyzed if the letter reflected an accurate knowledge of the jobs of each branch of government. Finally, students wrote an exit slip explaining how they could act as the fourth branch. Some examples:fourth branch

I can be the fourth branch of government by taking action in my government such a watching the news and writing letters to talk about the new things with the government.

“I could be a branch of government by paying taxes, voting, and calling my senator and giving ideas.”

“Vote for president and representatives and senators. State your beliefs. Understand the law.”

“You can ask to enforce laws or sign laws. You can have an opinion, except when it comes to the Supreme Court because they only care about the Constitution. You can also ask to make laws.”

“By writing letters and calling the three branches, we are influencing the government and fulfilling our jobsas the fourth branch of government.”

“I could be the fourth branch of government by writing the president and giving ideas to congress.”

“I could send my opinion to the senate, house, or maybe the president, but NOT the chief justices.”

“I think Americans can be the fourth branch by participating more. We can all vote, listen, and voice our opinions.”




About mealswithmargaret

I love everything about food---eating it, cooking it, writing about it, sharing it with friends. Check out my blog for easy at-home recipes and venues for nights on the town!


  1. I love this idea.. and I may re-broadcast this message (with your permission.)

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