Course Intro

This course is designed to give an in-depth introduction to students of the workings of American government. The purpose of the course is to prepare students to be active participants in our democratic system of government. Emphasis will be placed on the promotion of the responsibilities of civic duty and political participation. Students will become familiar with their rights as U.S. citizens and their responsibilities in preserving those rights. This course on the principals of American Government is based upon mandated standards by the State of California. This course is a graduation requirement and failure to pass this course will result in a failure to graduate on schedule.

    • Course Syllabus This is the first assignment and the acknowledgement page must be signed by both the student and guardian and uploaded to Google Classroom.
    • Course Syllabus Spanish


  • Sidlow, Edward, Beth Henschen. GOVT10, Principles of American Government. Boston: Cengage, 2019. Print.


In order to access the online textbook, google classroom, an other online resources, you must go through the Classlink web portal.

Classlink The following videos will walk you through using Classlink and making it your Google Homepage.

Course Objectives

  • Students will achieve proficiency in meeting the academic standards as outlined by both the district and state.
  • Students will demonstrate an understanding of their rights and civic responsibilities as citizens or future citizens of the United States.
  • Students will demonstrate an understanding of the institutions, processes, and influences that make up our political institutions.

Mandated Educational Standards

Course Overview

    • Unit I Basic Constitutional Principles – This unit will cover the underlying principles and ideals that led to the creation of our system of government.
    • Unit II Civil Rights & Liberties - This unit will cover the rights and responsibilities of citizens within our society.
    • Unit III The Politics of Democracy – This unit will examine the various factors and influences on the political process to include public opinion, political parties, campaigns, and the media.
    • Unit IV Institution of Government – This unit will cover the function and structure of the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branches, with a focus on the process of making laws, enforcing policy, and interpreting the U.S. Constitution.
    • Unit V Public Policy - This final unit will be the culmination of the semester long Public Policy Paper that ties all the units together.

Unit Plans: 

Unit Plans will be updated on my website and in Google Classroom for review before we begin each unit. The purpose of the website is for parents and students to be fully aware of the curriculum and due dates of all assignments. In addition, copies of each will be posted in the physical classroom, as well as Google Classroom. Hence, the excuse of not knowing about assignments or due dates will not be accepted.


Required Materials

These materials are required for participation in this course:

    • Personal Learning Device (Chromebook or laptop, phones do not count.) If you do not have one, please check with the main office to receive one.
    • Sense of humor
    • Ability to discuss topics in a civil and open-minded way *

*Agreeing with what you think I believe in gets you no brownie points, but articulating a well-reasoned argument from any political perspective based upon factual evidence does!



Grading will be based upon an objective point system within weighted categories to calculate the grade.  The semester grade is running total of the grade from both quarters and not an average of the two. Percentages are already rounded up to the next grade, so what is indicated on the progress report is the final grade. I do not give grades. You earn them.

Category Breakdown

Tests   35%
Classwork  35%
Policy Paper (A-G Requirement) 15%
Citizenship/Current Events  15%


Grading Scale

A= 100-90%

B=  89-80%

C=  79-70% (Minimum for A-G Credit)

D=  69-50%

F=   49% and below

Grades are rounded to the nearest percent.

i.e 89.5% = A 89.4% = B

Grades are posted regularly and displayed on the web through Aries



Tests (35%)

A multiple choice test will be given at the end of each unit and will be conducted in class.

Classwork (35%)

Classwork assignments are essential formative assignments to develop both content knowledge and skills. Time is given in class to complete all assignments and it is the student’s responsibility to finish assignments if not completed in class. These assignments are listed in and turned into google classroom and will include:

    • Chapter notes
    • Article responses
    • Online chapter quizzes 

Citizenship Project (15%)

This project will involve participating in various functions that relate to being an active citizen in our community. You will have choices in how to meet the following components, which will require participating in activities each quarter. In addition, you will be assigned to a current events group, which will follow a designated current event for the week and where a designated group member will orally present during the current events discussions on Fridays. Oral presentations are a requirement of A-G. 

You must complete each quarter:

  • Attend and report on one public meeting
  • Choose and complete one elective option 
  • One current event oral presentation


Public Policy Paper (15%)

A 10-page research paper is a specific requirement for A-G and an essential skill to do well in college. If you haven’t written one before, don’t feel overwhelmed, the project is structured into several smaller assignments along the way with the goal of teaching you how to do one.

The objective of this paper is to give you an in-depth understanding of one of the major public policy issues facing our community today. You will be given a topic within your current events group. You will then research this issue from the perspective of a staff person working for an elected politician who is presenting information to their boss. You will be individually assigned a congressional district for whose congressperson you will research the topic; i.e, Congressman Mike Thompson (D) of the 5th District of California. This is not an opinion piece, but a thorough analysis of the issue at hand with an exploration of the pros and cons of the options available and the factors that influence a congressperson’s decision, such as; public opinion of their district, the views of interest groups, political parties, and bureaucratic institutions. 


Conduct Standards:

Classroom Rules

    • Be respectful to everyone and their personal space.
    • Be on time.
    • No eating in class.
    • No one leaves until the classroom is clean and orderly.
    • Non-Educational electronic devices are to be put away unless specifically authorized.

Late Assignments

    • Chapter notes may be made up for half credit until the date of the unit test for that unit.
    • Quizzes may be made up for full credit until the unit test for that unit.
    • Current event assignments due on Wednesdays may be turned in for half credit until the period on Friday they are presented.
    • Late policy paper assignments can be made up for half credit until the due date of the next policy paper assignment.
    • Tests must be made up by the end of the following week. The grade on the final may be substituted for missing or low unit test scores.
    • All assignments missing past the late deadlines become permanent zeros. 

Cheating and Plagiarism

Plagiarism is defined as the use of someone else’s ideas or work without following fair use guidelines, proper citations, or obtaining permission. Plagiarism is a crime and any student caught plagiarizing material for any class project will receive an automatic F for the project. Repeat offenders will be referred to the administration for disciplinary proceedings. Blank pages, unfinished assignments, or copied assignments turned into Google Classroom will be marked as permanent zeros.