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LINK: Social Studies in Action Home Image of an elementary school student.
LINK: State Government and the Role of the Citizen Home
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Classroom Profile | Lesson Background

Read this information to better understand the lesson shown in the video.

Content: Establishment and Organization of State Government

A student standing at the head of the class pointing at work attached to the chalk board.The Articles of Confederation, a document consisting of a preamble and 13 articles, is considered our country's first national constitution. It spelled out how the 13 colonies were to become a confederation or league of independent states, each with sovereign power but working together to meet common goals. This confederacy was proposed by the Second Continental Congress in 1776, (while the Declaration of Independence was being drafted), revised in 1777, and finally ratified by all 13 states in 1781.

While the Articles of Confederation created a model for independent state government, they gave so little power to the federal government that it couldn't operate effectively. In 1789, the Articles of Confederation were superseded by the U.S. Constitution. The Constitution introduced a federalist system to unify states under a centralized national government. The federal government retained power over national affairs, while leaving states with the power to enforce laws and govern local affairs. Any powers not specifically assigned to the federal government were assigned to the states.

Text from the chalk board which says: 'bill becomes law'The Constitution divided national government into three branches with a system of checks and balances and a process for making and amending laws. The structure of state government mirrors that of federal government with legislative, executive, and judicial branches for establishing, amending, and interpreting laws that are enforced at the state (as opposed to the federal) level.

The legislative branch of government refers to the House of Representatives and Senate, where bills are introduced. The executive branch of government refers to the chief executive -- the president at the federal level, the governor at the state level -- who has the power to sign bills into law or veto them. Finally, the judicial branch refers to the role of federal and state courts in interpreting law and determining what is constitutional.

Teaching Strategy: SQ3R (Survey, Question, Read, Recite, and Review)

Two students discussing their work.SQ3R is a teaching strategy Ms. Kerr uses to help her students comprehend text and build meaning. Before they read a section of text, students first survey the text; that is, they skim the headings in bold print, study pictures, maps, charts, and diagrams, and read captions. The purpose of surveying headings and visuals prior to reading is to gain an overview of the topic and understand how the information is organized. The survey process also activates students' background knowledge as they identify terms that are familiar and make a note of terms that are new. Students then move to the question phase of the strategy, in which they form questions based on the bold headings in the text. Developing these questions in advance helps students to focus on the most important information contained in the section. Students then read to find the answers to their questions, synthesize what they have read through reciting (sharing with a partner, general discussion), and summarize what is learned in the review. SQ3R encourages reader engagement and increases comprehension and retention.

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