Education Standards

The State We're In: Washington - Teacher Guide Ch. 5: Governing Washington

The State We're In: Washington - Teacher Guide Ch. 5: Governing Washington


This is a Teacher's Guide for The State We're In Washington: Your guide to state, tribal and local government. These quides are developed by members of the Washington State Social Studies Cadre.

This chapter focuses on the concept that when governing Washington today there is a need for a complex understanding of the cultural, economical, political, environmental, and ecological needs of our state.

Governing Washington Today

General Overview

Enduring Understanding

When governing Washington today there is a need for a complex understanding of the cultural, economical, political, environmental, and ecological needs of our state.

Supporting Questions

Students consider these questions - finding and using evidence to support the Enduring Understanding.

  • What are the roles of the three branches of government?
  • How are laws made in Washington?
  • How are the state budget and taxes decided?
  • How does the state spend its money?
  • What are the ways that people get elected in Washington?
  • Why are there so many elected officials in Washington?

Learning Targets

Students will be able to…

  • Explain what the roles are for each branch of government. 
  • Explain how laws are made in Washington.
  • Discuss how the state budget and taxes are decided.
  • Critique the different ways and reasons that Washington spends money.  
  • List the different strategies that people use to get elected.
  • Analyze the need for Washington to have a variety of elected officials.


  1. Launch
  2. Focused Notes
  3. Text-Dependent Questions
  4. Focused Inquiry


Attribution and License


This Teacher’s Guide for Chapter 5: The State We’re In Washington was developed by Callie Birklid, North Thurston Public Schools.

The downloadable digital version of The State We're In: Washington. Your guide to state, tribal and local government by the League of Women Voters of Washington Education Fund is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 International License. Print copies of The State We’re In: Washington, may be purchased from the League of Women Voters of Washington website.

Cover image by David Mark from Pixabay 


Except where otherwise noted, this Teacher Guide for The State We’re In Washington Chapter 5, copyright Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, is available under a Creative Commons Attribution License. All logos and trademarks are property of their respective owners. Sections used under fair use doctrine (17 U.S.C. § 107) are marked



Hooking students into the content of the chapter.

Distribute the Student handout: Launch to students.

  • Teachers may need to define some words for students. Teachers may choose to have students circle the words that they know and underline the words that they need to have defined. Teachers could then have the class work together to come up with definitions. 
  • Teachers should make adjustments to this activity based on student needs by reducing the number of words, sentences, allowing students to work in groups, etc. 
  • Students should revisit this activity at the end of the chapter to see how accurate their predictions were.
  • Extension activity: have students share their predictions in small or large group discussions. As a class, students could come up with the best or most common prediction. Students could display their predictions for the duration of this chapter study.

Focused Notes

Activating student thinking about the content of the entire chapter.

Distribute the Student handout: Focused Notes to students.

  • As students read, they will record their understanding, thinking, and questions about the content using the handout. This can be done individually or collaboratively in pairs or small groups. Because of the size of this chapter the Focused Notes have been divided into three sections (The Legislator, The Executive Branch, and The Judiciary)

Text Dependent Questions

Engaging students in a close reading activity about specific content in the chapter.

Distribute the Student handout: Text Dependent Questions document to students.

First Read

Have the students read the section and answer the First read questions on the Text Dependent Questions document.


Second Read

Use the Second read questions below to facilitate a small or whole group discussion about the reading section. When they are done have them use the Text Dependent Questions handout to record their notes.

  • What does the term “strings attached” mean?
  • What does the term “match” mean in this text?
  • Looking at the pie chart on the right, what do you think “community development” means?
  • Why does the state spend almost 20% of the budget on public schools?
  • Why did the author include the top text on page 75? How did it help your understanding of the pie charts on the bottom?

Post read

After students have done a first and second read of the page, use the following questions to facilitate a class discussion. Have students capture their notes on the student handout:

  • Look at the two pie charts, why do you think the author chose to include the categories that they did?
  • This book was published in 2018. Use the link A Citizen’s Guide to Washington State K-12 Finance (PDF Page 19). What is different and similar about the two charts? Why do you think this is?

Teacher note: You may want to use some or all the Second read or Post read questions. The purpose of the Text Dependent Question activity is to have students do multiple close reads of the text leading to discussion that engages all students. Therefore, you may need to add reading strategies that meet the needs of your students.

Focused Inquiry

A focused inquiry is a one to two day lesson that will have students engaging in the C3 Framework’s Inquiry Arc. The link below includes both teacher and student documents.

Compelling Question

Can you LIVE with restrictions?

Teacher's Guide Menu

Download the all the guides in one document or click on an individual chapter below.

Washington tribe members fishing.  Today's Democracy.  Creating Government.  Century of Change

Governing Today.  Tribal Governments.  Local Government .  Civics and Nature

What's Next.  Good Citizen