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Teacher/Staff Contact:

Laura D. Flinchum

Social Studies Department Chair
AP / Dual Credit U. S. Government & Politics teacher
American Government teacher
TCHS Academic Team coach
Freshman Class advisor

Planning Period:  9:55-10:45 am
Contact:  465-4431 x-3220

AMERICAN GOVERNMENT (AP) SYLLABUS

                                                                                      E-mail:  laura.flinchum@taylor.kyschools.us

Course Objective:                                                        KY Academic Expectations:  2.14, 2.15

Students will understand the nature of U. S. government and the unique characteristics of American democracy, including its fundamental principles and structure and the role of its citizens. Students will develop the facility to analyze and interpret government data and think critically about American politics.

This course is designed to meet the state's Core Content and Program of Studies requirements, and to prepare students to successfully complete the AP United States Government and Politics exam.


Course Requirements/Assessments:

Testing (60% of grade): Students will take examinations at the end of each unit (3-4 per grading quarter,) quizzes over assigned readings, and comprehensive semester finals which comprise 20% of total course grade. Tests will include multiple choice and free response questions that will prepare students for the AP U.S Government and Politics exam.

Composition (20%): Each semester, students will research and compose one 3-4 page analytical essay relevant to a topic of unit study, and one 3-page review of a current or classic book on the subject of politics or government that has been approved by the instructor for appropriate reading level. Other writings such as editorials, reports, letters to public officials, and abstracts of articles from current news sources will be assigned throughout the grading periods.

Role-play (10%): Students will research, compose, and perform roles in simulations, debates, and mock trials where these activities will enrich learning in each unit. Grades will be based on level of preparation, creativity, and understanding of key concepts.

Participation (10%): Students will receive weekly participation grades based upon attendance, the thoroughness, thoughtfulness, and organization of their notes and written or oral responses, and their level of engagement in class activities.


Grading Procedures:

Assignments are weighted: longer, more complex tasks are worth more points. Grades for the quarter will be determined by taking the student's total points earned divided by the total points possible. Grades for the first and second quarters are averaged to obtain the semester grade, which is final.

Scale: A 90-100; B 80-89; C 70-79; D 60-69; F 0-59


Unit Information                                                                 KY Core Content 

Unit Name or Timeframe:
Unit 1: Foundations of the United States Government                      

Content and/or Skills Taught:
Wk 1: Principles of Government                                              SS-HS-1.1.1, 2.2.1         
- Characteristics and Origins of a State
- Forms and Purposes of Government
- America's Core Political Ideals: liberty, equality, self-
government, individualism, diversity
- Theories of Power: majoritarianism, pluralism, elitism,
bureaucratic rule


Wk 2-3: Origins of American Government                                SS-HS-1.1.1
- Philosophical and Historical Foundations (English law,
Locke, Rousseau, Montesquieu)
- Character of Colonial Government
- Coming of Independence
- Articles of Confederation
- Creating and Ratifying the Constitution
(Federalists v.Anti-federalists)

Wk 4-5: The Constitution                                                         SS-HS-1.1.2, 1.2.1,1.2.2,
- Six Basic Principles: popular sovereignty, limited                                   1.3.1, 1.3.2
government, separation of powers, checks and balances,
judicial review, federalism
- Amending the Constitution (formally and informally)

Major Assignments and/or Assessments:
In addition to readings from Patterson and Remy textbooks, students will examine the following primary sources: Declaration of Independence; U.S. Constitution; Federalist Papers #10 and #51; and excerpts from the Magna Carta and English Bill of Rights.

 

Unit Name or Timeframe:
Unit 2: Mass Politics

Content and/or Skills Taught:
Wk 6: Political Parties                                                              SS-HS-1.1.3, 1.3.3
- Functions and Organization
- The Two-party System
- Minor Parties

Wk 7: Voting                                                                             SS-HS-1.1.3, 1.3.3
- Voter Qualifications
- Political Socialization
- Voter Behavior and non-voting

Wk 8-9: Electoral Process                                                        SS-HS-1.1.3, 1.3.3
- Nominating Procedures
- Elections
- Money and the Election Process

Wk 10 (3 days): Mass Media                                                      SS-HS-1.1.3
- Formation and Measurement of Public Opinion
- Functions and Political Impact of Mass Media: Newspapers,
  Internet, Broadcast News and Cable TV

Wk 10 (2 days): Interest Groups                                               SS-HS-1.1.3, 1.3.3
- Nature of Interest Groups
- Types of Interest Groups, including PACs
- Effects of Interest Groups on the Political Process

Major Assignments and/or Assessments:
Students will work in groups to develop political campaigns and stage a mock election, taking into account what they have learned about voter behavior and the influence of mass media and interest groups on the political process.

Students will research party histories and platforms to write a 3-4 page essay comparing the Democratic and Republican Parties in the context of at least six national issues of priority to them.

 

Unit Name or Timeframe:
Unit 3: The Presidency: Leading the Nation

Content and/or Skills Taught:
Wk 11-12: Presidency                                                               SS-HS-1.2.1,1.2.2
- Job description (Presidential roles)
- Presidential Succession and the Vice Presidency
- Elections (electoral college)

Wk 13-14: Presidential Powers                                     SS-HS-1.2.1, 1.2.2, 1.1.3
- Changing Views of Presidential Power
- Executive Powers
- Diplomatic and Military Powers
- Legislative and Judicial Powers
- Relations with Congress

Major Assignments and/or Assessments:
Students will work in pairs to research and prepare a class presentation on a modern president that analyzes how effectively that President performed in 7 of the 8 presidential roles discussed in class.

 

Unit Name or Timeframe:
Unit 4: Administering the Government

Content and/or Skills Taught:
Wk 15-17: The Bureaucracy                                                      SS-HS-1.2.1,1.2.2
- E.O.P and the Cabinet
- Executive Departments and Independent Agencies
- "Iron Triangle"
- Civil Service

Wk 17-18: Financing Government                                             SS-HS-3.4.1,3.4.3
- Taxes
- Borrowing and the National Debt
- Spending and the Federal Budget

Major Assignments and/or Assessments:
Students will work in pairs to research a department of the Cabinet or an Independent Agency, then prepare and teach a mini-lesson on their topic that includes leading the class in a discussion of current issues of concern to that department or agency.

 

Unit Name or Timeframe:
Unit 5: The National Legislature

Content and/or Skills Taught:
Wk 19: Organization of Congress                                             SS-HS-1.2.1,1.2.2
- House of Representatives
- Senate
- Members of Congress

Wk 20: Congressional Powers                                                  SS-HS-1.2.1, 1.2.2
- Scope of Congressional Powers (Lawmaking, Representative,
  Oversight)
- Expressed Powers
- Implied Powers
- Non-legislative Powers

Wk 21-22: Congress in Action                                                  SS-HS-1.1.3, 1.2.1, 1.2.2
- Committee System and Congressional Leadership
- How a Bill Becomes Law: House, Senate and Final Stages
- The Politics of Legislation

 

Major Assignments and/or Assessments:
The culminating activity of this unit will be a mock Congress in which students will compose bills, evaluate those bills in committee, debate the surviving bills on the "House floor", and vote for or against passage into law.

 

Unit Name or Timeframe:
Unit 6: The Judicial System: Applying the Law

Content and/or Skills Taught:
Wk 23-25: Federal Court System                                              SS-HS-1.2.2,1.3.1,1.3.2
- The Supreme Court
- Inferior Courts
- State Courts
- Debate over the Proper Role of the Judiciary
- Political Influences on Judicial Decisions

Major Assignments and/or Assessments:
The culminating unit activity will be mock trials of both civil and criminal cases.
Landmark Supreme Court cases will be examined to support key concepts.

 

Unit Name or Timeframe:
Unit 7: Civil Rights And Civil Liberties

Content and/or Skills Taught:
Wk 26-28: Civil Liberties                                                           SS-HS-1.2.2, 1.3.1,1.3.2
- Freedom of Religion
- Freedom of Speech and Press
- Freedom of Petition and Assembly
- Freedom of Expression and National Security
- Rights of Persons Accused of Crimes
- The Right to Privacy

Wk 29 : Equal Rights                                                                SS-HS-1.1.2, 1.2.2
- The Struggle for Fairness: African Americans, Women, Native
Americans, Other Minority Groups
- Equality Under the Law ( Fourteenth Amendment, Civil
Rights Acts, Voting Rights Act)
- Persistent Discrimination and Affirmative Action

Major Assignments and/or Assessments:
Lessons will be enriched with the study of relevant Supreme Court cases and a series of class debates.

 

Unit Name or Timeframe:
Unit 8: Public Policy

Content and/or Skills Taught:
Wk 30: Economic and Environmental Policy                            SS-HS-1.1.3, 1.2.1,1.3.2
- The Public Policy Process
- Government as Regulator and Manager of Economy
- Government as Protector of Environment
- Monetary Policy

Wk 31: Welfare and Education Policy                                       SS-HS-1.1.3, 1.2.1
- Poverty in America
- Social Welfare (Social Insurance, Public Assistance)
- Federal Role in Education and Equality of Opportunity

Wk 32: Foreign and Defense Policy                                          SS-HS-1.1.1, 1.2.1, 1.3.2        
- Roots of Foreign and Defense Policy: U.S. as Superpower;
Cold War; Vietnam; Fall of Soviet Union; Globalization;
War on Terrorism.
- Politics of National Defense

Major Assignments and/or Assessments:
A series of student debates on public policy issues will enhance understanding of unit concepts and encourage student attention to current events.

(Wk 33: KCCT)

Unit Name or Timeframe:
Unit 9: State and Local Politics

Content and/or Skills Taught:
Wk 34: Federalism
- Division of Power                                                                     SS-HS-1.2.1, 1.2.2
- Relationship between National Government and the States
- Interstate Relations

Wk 35-36: Structure of State and Local Governments              SS-HS-1.2.1
- State Constitutions
- Branches of Government
- Leadership and Elections
- Types of Local Government
- Sources of State and Local Finance
- State and Local Policy Priorities

Major Assignments and/or Assessments:
Classes will choose a local issue of concern, research the problem, propose possible solutions/actions, and contact appropriate local officials to get their concerns heard and, if possible, seek ways the students can work with local government to enact solutions.

Community and government leaders will be invited to speak about their job duties the functions of local government.

 

Textbooks

Author:Patterson, Thomas
Title:The American Democracy
Publisher:McGraw-Hill
Published Date:2008, Eight Edition

Author:Remy, Richard
Title:United States Government: Democracy in Action
Publisher:Glenco
Published Date:2008

 

Material Type: Newspaper/magazine
Description: Newspapers and the periodicals Time and U.S.News & N.Y. Times Upfront will be used regularly to provide a connection between concepts learned in the classroom and happenings of the broader world.

Websites

URL:www.usa.gov
Description: The U.S. government's official web portal for all government transactions, services, and information.

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