U.S. Government

  • Course Description

    This course introduces students to various concepts of the study of American government and democracy that will ultimately enable them to participate effectively in civic life in America. Students will analyze the history and changing interpretations of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, examine the evolution of the legislative, executive, and judiciary branches of government, and analyze the relationships among federal, state, and local governments. Students will also evaluate the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, the policy-making process, political parties and elections, foreign policy, and a sampling of historical and current sources of political news.

    Essential Concepts/Skills:

    Interpret and summarize the ideal of the Declaration of Independence.
    Examine, identify and dissect the structure and application of the U.S. Constitution.
    Summarize and discuss the functions of the three branches of government.
    Evaluate authors’ differing points of view on the same historical event or issue by assessing the author’s claims, reasoning, and evidence.
    Learn to differentiate between credible sources of information and then accurately and appropriately formatting those sources for a research paper.
    Justify and defend a current political issue by writing a formal research paper utilizing strong and valid supporting documents.

    Units of Study:

    Foundations of American Government: Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution
    The Legislative Branch
    The Executive Branch
    The Judicial Branch
    Civil Liberties and Civil Rights
    Political Culture
    Nominations and Elections

    Pre-Assessment: Abridged version of the current U.S. Citizenship Test

    Common Assessment: Declaration of Independence DBQ-
    "Consider the four key ideals expressed in the Declaration of Independence- equality, unalienable rights, consent of the governed, and the right to alter or abolish government. Then write an essay which explain in your opinion were these the guiding ideals for the founding fathers."

    Grading: based on a cumulative points system and a Standard Grading Scale.
    100-90% - A
    89-80% - B
    79-70% - C
    69-60% - D
    59% or below - F

    AP U.S. Government

    Course Description:

    AP United States Government is a challenging course that is equivalent of a freshman college course and can earn students college credit. This year long course will give students an analytical perspective on government and politics in the United States. Solid reading and writing skills, along with a willingness to devote considerable time to homework and study, are necessary to succeed. Emphasis is placed on critical and evaluative thinking skills, essay writing, and interpretation of original documents. A college textbook is used in the course. Students will also be expected to take extensive note-taking as most of the classes are lectures. Throughout the year, students will be introduced to typical questions used on the AP Exam, which is administered in May. All students enrolled in the course are required to take the AP Exam.

    Essential Concepts/Skills

    Students will describe and compare important facts, concepts and theories pertaining to U.S. government and politics.
    Students will explain typical patterns of political processes and behavior, including their consequences.
    Students will explain components of political behavior, principles used to explain or justify various government structures and procedures, and political effects of those structures and procedures.
    Students will interpret basic data relevant to U.S. government and politics in multiple formats.
    Students will critically analyze relevant theories and concepts, apply them appropriately, and develop their connections across the curriculum.
    Students will analyze political relationships and policy changes.

    Major Units:

    Constitutional Underpinnings (chapters 1-3)
    Political Beliefs and Behaviors (chapters 6, 9 and 10)
    Political Parties, Interest Groups, and Mass Media (chapters 7, 8 and 11)

    Institutions of National Government: The Congress, the bureaucracy and the Federal Courts (Chapters 12-16)
    Public Policy (Chapters 17-20)
    Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (Chapters 4 & 5)