Lesson Plan

Lesson 4 James Madison: Internal Improvements Balancing Act—Federal/State and Executive/Legislative

Curated and Reviewed by Lesson Planet

Who has the power? The founding fathers asked the same question when the United States was formed. Learners explore issues that arose during Madison’s presidency that raised constitutional questions. Through discovery, discussion, and activities, they learn about Madison’s daunting task of balancing the roles and power of the newly formed federal government of the United States. Critical thinking, analyzing, and use of primary sources enables young historians to gain insight  into his dilemma and his beliefs, revealing some of the reasoning behind President Madison's actions. This is the fourth and final lesson plan in the unit.

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CCSS: Designed
Instructional Ideas
  • Great opportunity to branch into groups and discover the separation of powers and the creation of the Constitution
  • Divide the classroom into the legislative, executive, and judicial branches and dive into the constitutional meaning and definition of each
  • Mock a session of Congress where the students go through the motions of a bill becoming a law
Classroom Considerations
  • Limit group sizes to no more than three
  • Prior knowledge of the three branches of the federal government (legislative, executive, judicial) is needed prior to the lesson

    • Primary documents, Elliots's Debates and Articles of the Constitution, can lead to an extension lesson
    • Easy-to-follow and printable worksheets are great for classroom use