Grade 12: Principles of American Democracy


Civics Grade 12

12.4 Students analyze the unique roles and responsibilities of the three branches of government as established by the U.S. Constitution.


12.3 Students analyze the influence of the federal government on the American economy.

Historical and Social Science Skills

Historical Research, Evidence, and Point of View

Historical Interpretation

English/Language Arts Standards


2.0 Reading Comprehension (Focus on Informational Materials)
Students read and understand grade-level-appropriate material. They analyze the organizational patterns, arguments, and positions advanced. The selections in Recommended Readings in Literature, Grades Nine Through Twelve illustrate the quality and complexity of the materials to be read by students. In addition, by grade twelve, students read two million words annually on their own, including a wide variety of classic and contemporary literature, magazines, newspapers, and online information.


1.0 Writing Strategies
Students write coherent and focused texts that convey a well-defined perspective and tightly reasoned argument. The writing demonstrates students' awareness of the audience and purpose and progression through the stages of the writing process.

2.0 Writing Applications (Genres and Their Characteristics)
Students combine the rhetorical strategies of narration, exposition, persuasion, and description to produce texts of at least 1,500 words each. Student writing demonstrates a command of standard American English and the research, organizational, and drafting strategies outlined in Writing Standard 1.0.

Listening and Speaking

1.0 Listening and Speaking Strategies
Students formulate adroit judgments about oral communication. They deliver focused and coherent presentations that convey clear and distinct perspectives and demonstrate solid reasoning. They use gestures, tone, and vocabulary tailored to the audience and purpose.

2.0 Speaking Applications (Genres and Their Characteristics)
Students deliver polished formal and extemporaneous presentations that combine traditional rhetorical strategies of narration, exposition, persuasion, and description. Student speaking demonstrates a command of standard American English and the organizational and delivery strategies outlined in Listening and Speaking Standard 1.0.

Lesson Purpose/Objective:

History Social Science Framework
The purpose/objective of this executive branch lesson is to reinforce the following Framework Skills: Characteristic 11 by "developing civic and democratic values"; Characteristic 13 by introducing the students to "controversial issues honestly and accurately"; and Characteristic 16 by "engaging students activity in the learning process".

Lesson Length/Customizing:

This simulation works well as the culminating activity of lessons on the executive branch. The preparation time could be included as part of the overall assignment for the executive branch. It could involve class, library and home assignment components. Class time will be needed for the organizational parts of setting up a cabinet meeting. Current issues may be taken from the cabinet's homepage or recent stories in the media.

The cabinet meeting phase of the lesson would take a minimum of two days to conduct. The critique and debriefing of the outcomes will conclude the simulation with an optional essay to follow.

Additional roles may be added to increase the number of students involved in the simulation i.e. under secretaries, vice president, white house advisors. The format can also be changed to a press conference simulation, where the class and teacher assume the role of the press and the cabinet members take questions on their proposed programs etc.


The textbook, a computer with an Internet connection, and other resources on the executive departments from supplementary print and audio-visual sources are essential resources. Teacher prepared instruction and sign up sheets are also needed.

Possible Adaptations for Special Needs Students:

The teacher can script and simplify the simulation to accommodate the needs of resource and English Learners.

Bob O'Connor
Gahr High School

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