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Gateway to American Government


This school year, give your seventh grade students what they really need to ace Florida’s Civics EOC test!  We truly believe this book can have a revolutionary impact on your Grade 7 classroom and EOC scores at the end of the year.

Our highly anticipated, revised color edition of Gateway to American Government: The Bridge to Success on Florida’s EOC Test will be available this June.  This edition is forty pages longer than the original black-and-white edition, and includes new charts and other visual aids. It is in full color, appealing to middle school students.

The new edition covers all of the names and terms found in the "Content Focus" section of the EOC Item Specifications guide.  Based on the released content focus reports for past EOC tests, teachers should concentrate on these terms. This shifts the emphasis slightly from the Benchmarks to the specific terms used in the Benchmarks, "Benchmark Clarifications" and "Content Focus" sections.

Special Learning Features

In addition to being 100% aligned to Florida’s learning standards, Gateway to American Government contains special features, based on the latest research, to maximize student learning. These include advance organizers, concept maps, graphic organizers, vocabulary activities, and post-reading exercises.

Each chapter begins with title page listing the relevant benchmarks and providing a word wall of important names and terms. This is followed by a one-page advance organizer entitled Florida “Keys” to Learning.  The chapter text is then divided into several easy-to-read sections. Some of these sections contain specially designed cartoons to help students comprehend and master difficult concepts, such as constitutional principles and types of government.  Each major section is followed by The Active Citizen, which asks students to conduct various activities to reinforce and enrich their understanding of each benchmark. Finally, each chapter concludes with: (1) a vocabulary activity, such as concept ladders or concept circles, based on the pioneering research of Janet Allen; (2) a concept map; (3) a series of review cards; and (4) practice test questions.

With these features, this book can be used for a variety of student learners. With struggling learners, teachers may want to focus on the vocabulary activities, concept map and review cards, and only deal with selected topics in greater depth. For more advanced students, teachers may want to use the entire text as well as pursue many of the recommended activities in The Active Citizen.


  • $165.00 for a set of 10 black-and-white books (includes shipping)
  • $179.50 for a set of 10 books of the revised color edition (includes shipping)
  • $6.50 per student for a one-year license to the black-and-white edition, on a district-wide or school-wide basis
  • $10.00 per student for a one-year license to the revised color edition, on a district-wide or school-wide basis

Because of changes in the revised color edition, we recommend you order the online edition that matches your printed books.

* Both the black-and-white and color editions can also be purchased from the Florida School Book Depository as well as directly from us.

Summary of the Book

There is no right or wrong way for organizing the many topics in this book, but we take the approach described below. In fact, however, these chapters can be used in almost any order a teacher wishes to take in order to conform to his or her district’s syllabus.

Chapter 1. Origins of American Government 
(SS.7.C.1.1 & SS.7.C.1.2)
The book begins by examining the roots of our sys­tem of democratic government in England and colonial times. Students learn how English traditions and new ideas in Europe in the 17th and 18th cen­turies led people to develop more democratic forms of government. The English colonies, far from Euro­pean rulers, provided fertile ground for these new ideas to take shape.

Chapter 2. Americans Declare Their Independence
(SS.7.C.1.3 & SS.7.C.1.4)
In this chapter, students learn about the American Revolution and the Declaration of Independence. Students examine the disagreements between the American colonists and the British government, the outbreak of armed conflict, and the decision to become independent. Then they analyze the ideas of the Declaration itself.

Chapter 3. The Story of Our Constitution
(SS.7.C.1.5, SS.7.C.1.7, & SS.7.C.3.3)
After achieving independence, each colony became a new state. Americans also faced the problem of designing a national sys­tem of government that would be effective but that would still respect individual rights. Our first national government, created by the Articles of Confederation, proved to be too weak. In this chapter, students learn how the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation led delegates from 12 states to draft the U.S. Constitution.  They learn what was discussed at the Constitutional Convention, what the delegates agreed upon, how they compromised on the issue of representation in Congress.

Chapter 4. A Quick Tour of the Constitution
(SS.7.C.1.6, SS.7.C.1.7, SS.7.C.1.8, & SS.7.C.3.3)
In this chapter, students are provided with an overview of the basic structure of the Constitution and our federal government. They analyze the Preamble and look at summaries of the other articles. They learn that the authors of the U.S. Constitution intro­duced several constitutional principles to make sure our national government was strong enough but not oppressive: popular sovereignty, limited government, the separation of powers, checks and balances, limited powers and federalism. The result was the system of government we still have today—with its separate legislative, executive and judicial branches, and its division of power between our federal government and the state governments.  Students also look at the ratification debates between Federalists and Anti-Federalists and how these led the later addition of  the Bill of Rights.

Chapter 5. Congress: Our Legislative Branch
(SS.7.C.3.3, SS.7.C.3.8, SS.7.C.3.9)
After learning how our system of government came into being, students explore how it works today. In this chapter, they look at Congress, our national law-making body. What are its “enumerated” and “implied” powers? What is the significance of the “Necessary and Proper” Clause? What are the non-legislative powers of Congress? How many members are in each house of Congress? How are their members selected? How is Congress organized? What is the committee system? What are its steps for passing a new law?

Chapter 6. The Presidency: Our Executive Branch
(SS.7.C.3.3, SS.7.C.3.8, SS.7.C.3.9 & SS.7.C.4.1)
In this chapter, students look at the Presidency. What are the President’s expressed” powers under the Constitution? What are the President’s “implied” and other powers? What different roles does the Presi­dent play today? How is the President of the United States elected?  How does the Electoral College work?

Chapter 7. The Federal Courts: Our Judicial Branch
(SS.7.C.3.8 & SS.7.C.3.11)
In this chapter, students consider the judicial branch of our federal government—the U.S. Supreme Court and other federal courts. They learn how Supreme Court Justices are chosen, how they decide what cases to review, and how they go about deciding cases. They also learn about the original and appellate jurisdiction of the Court, and how the Court itself established power of “judicial review”—the ability to declare a state or federal law “unconstitutional” if the Court determines it conflicts with the U.S. Constitution. Students also learn about the lower federal courts—U.S. District Courts and U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals.

Chapter 7. The Federal Courts: Our Judicial Branch
(SS.7.C.3.8 & SS.7.C.3.11)
In this chapter, students consider the judicial branch of our federal government—the U.S. Supreme Court and other federal courts. They learn how Supreme Court Justices are chosen, how they decide what cases to review, and how they go about deciding cases. They also learn about the original and appellate jurisdiction of the Court, and how the Court itself established power of “judicial review”—the ability to declare a state or federal law “unconstitutional” if the Court determines it conflicts with the U.S. Constitution. Students also learn about the lower federal courts—U.S. District Courts and U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals.

Chapter 8. The Rule of Law
(SS.7.C.1.9, SS.7.C.2.6, SS.7.C.3.8, SS.7.C.3.10 & SS.7.C.3.11)
In this chapter, students learn what laws are, what courts do, and the differences between state and federal laws, civil and criminal laws, and statutory and common law. They also look at excerpts from historic law codes, see how Florida’s court system is organized, and look at the steps of both the civil and criminal law process. The chapter includes material for classes to conduct a mock civil trial.

Chapter 9. The Bill of Rights and Later Amendments
(SS.7.C.3.8 & SS.7.C.3.11)
Students learn how the Constitution can be amended and then examine the first set of amendments, known as the Bill of Rights. They also learn about several later amendments to the U.S. Constitution—the 13th, 14th, 15th, 19th, 24th and 26th—which ended slavery, protected individual rights from actions by state governments, and expanded American democracy by guaranteeing the right to vote to new groups.

Chapter 10. “May It Please the Court”: The Supreme Court in Action
Students learn about the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions listed in the Florida civics standards and their significance: Marbury v. Madison, Tinker v. Des Moines, Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier, District of Columbia v. Heller, Gideon v. Wainwright, Miranda v. Arizona, In re Gault, Plessy v. Ferguson, Brown v. Board of Education, United States v. Nixon, and Bush v. Gore.

Chapter 11. Federalism: Federal, State and Local Governments Working Together
(SS.7.C.2.3, SS.7.C.3.4, SS.7.C.3.9, SS.7.C.3.13 & SS.7.C.3.14)
In this chapter, students learn about Florida’s state and local governments in the context of the complex relationship between our federal and state governments known as “federalism.” First, students compare the “enumerated,” “reserved” and “concurrent” powers. They also analyze the effects of the Supremacy Clause. Then students look at the similarities and differences between the Florida Constitution and the U.S. Constitution.  They learn that the Florida Constitution addresses concerns specific to Florida, such as state finances, voting, public education, and local government. They compare the Governor of Florida with the President of the United States, and the Florida State Legislature with the U.S. Congress. Florida’s Constitution also has several unique requirements, such as a ban on state personal income tax and the requirement of English as the official language.  In addition, the Florida Constitution is easier to amend than the U.S. Constitution. Students also learn about the three types of local government: county, municipal and special district, and consider the obligations and services of different levels of government.

Chapter 12. The Obligations, Responsibilities and Rights of Citizens
(SS.7.C.2.1, SS.7.C.2.2, SS.7.C.2.3, SS.7.C.2.4, SS.7.C.2.5 & SS.7.C.2.14)
Students learn what citizenship is and how many people become U.S. citizens at birth. They also learn how foreign nationals living in the United States are able to become “naturalized” American citizens. Then students look at the obli­gations, responsibilities and rights of American citizens. They learn that “citizenship obligations” are things that citizens must do—such as to obey the law, pay taxes, register with Selective Service (if male), and to serve on juries—and that “citizenship responsibilities” are things that citizens should do to make our democracy effective—such as being informed about public issues, voting, serving on local committees, and running for public office. Then they learn about the rights of both residents and citizens—including individual rights guaranteed in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. They also learn about the rights that belong to citizens alone, such as the right to vote.  Finally, students are given an opportunity to conduct a community service project.

Chapter 13. Political Parties and Elections
(SS.7.C.2.7, SS.7.C.2.8, SS.7.C.2.9)
Students see how citizens participate in political decision-making by joining political par­ties, by participating in election campaigns, and by voting in elections. They learn about the major beliefs of the Democratic, Republican, Socialist, Communist, Libertarian and Green political parties. They consider the impact of political parties on American society and government, look at the requirements for voting in Florida, and consider the nomination process, political campaigns, and campaign finance. They also look at factors for evaluating candidates, such as qualifications, experience, positions on issues, performance in public debates, and the content of political advertisements. Finally, students have an opportunity to conduct a classroom mock election.

Chapter 14. Interest Groups and the Media
(SS.7.C.2.10 &  SS.7.C.2.11)
Students see how public policy is influenced by interest groups, paid lobbyists and the “media”—newspapers, magazines, television, radio and the Internet. They also see how private individuals can sometimes influence government decision-making. They learn the different ways that interest groups act to further their goals, such as monitoring government actions, lobbying, electioneering, litigation, and publicity.  They consider how both interest groups and the media provide information to the public and act as “watchdogs” over our legislators and government officials. Finally, they learn how to analyze political communications and how to identify bias, symbolism, and propaganda.

Chapter 15. Public Policy
(SS.7.C.2.11, SS.7.C.2.13 & SS.7.C.2.14)
In this chapter, students learn about public policy and develop their own plans to resolve a state or local problem. They identify the problem, conduct research, identify the appropriate level of government and best agency to address the problem, develop different public policy alternatives, evaluate the pros and cons of each alternative, consider multiple perspectives, select the best policy alternative, and finally attempt to implement their plan or decision. They also learn about public issues and the value of considering multiple perspectives.

Chapter 16. Types of Governments
(SS.7.C.3.1 &  SS.7.C.3.2)
In this chapter, students look at the different types of gov­ernments around the world and classify them based on who holds power (democracy, monarchy, autocracy, or oligarchy), the relationship of the central and local governments (unitary, federal or confederal), or the relationship between the legislative and executive branches (presidential or parliamentary). Students also look at two special forms of government that arose in reaction to the Industrial Revolution: socialism and communism.

Chapter 17. American Foreign Policy
(SS.7.C.4.1, SS.7.C.4.2 & SS.7.C.4.3)
Students consider how the United States relates to the rest of the international community through its foreign policy. They learn the differences between domestic policy and foreign policy. Then they look at how the President, Congress, the U.S. Secretary of State, and the State Department share in the conduct of American foreign policy. Next, they learn the goals of U.S. foreign policy and explore the instruments that policy-makers have at their disposal to achieve those goals, including the use of military force, deterrence and coercive diplomacy, economic sanctions and assistance, negotiations, treaties, alliances, and membership in international organizations. This is followed by a brief history of U.S. foreign policy and involvement in international conflicts from independence to the present—including the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, the Cold War, the Korean War, the Bay of Pigs invasion, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the War in Vietnam, the Iran Hostage Crisis, the attacks of September 11, 2001, the “War on Terror,” and the two Gulf Wars. The chapter concludes by reviewing U.S. and private participation in a number of international organizations.

Chapter 18. A Final Practice Test
The book ends with a final practice test of 56 questions, modeled on the released items in the Florida Department of Education’s Civics End-of-Course Assessment Test Item Specifications. These questions are distributed equally among the four Reporting Categories as stated on page D-2 of that guide.


To see an introductory chapter explaining the main features of the book, click below:

To see a chapter on the U.S. Constitution, click below and use the password getsmart to open the file:

To see a chapter on the Federal Courts, click below and use the password getsmart to open the file:

To see a chapter on Interest Groups and the Media, click below and use the password getsmart to open the file:

Professional Development

We provide professional development for districts adopting our materials without charge. For additional workshops with innovative instructional strategies for using this resource, please contact our authorized providers of professional development, Steve Beasley or Sherry Owens of s3strategies, at (806) 407-5354.