Social Media

  Youtube Logo   

Government (P)


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.


McClenaghan, William A. Magruder's American Government. Needham, MA: Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2013. Print.

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 Principals – This unit will cover the underlying principles and ideals that led to the creation of our system of government.
  • Unit II The Political Process – This unit will examine the various factors and influences on the political process to include public opinion, political parties, campaigns, and the media.
  • Unit III Legislative Branch – This unit will cover the function and structure of the Legislative Branch, with a focus on the process of making laws.
  • Unit IV Executive Branch– This unit will cover the function and structure of the Executive Branch, with a focus on its role in shaping and implementing policy.
  • Unit V Judicial Branch– This unit will cover the function and structure of the Judicial Branch, with a focus on the role of the Supreme Court in shaping interpretations of the Constitution and the evolution of due process and individual rights.

Website Access: 

Unit Plans will be posted on my website 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 classroom. Hence, excuse of not knowing about assignments or due dates will not be accepted.

Citizenship Project:

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 that will earn them a total of 120 points. The points possible will be divided equally between the first and second quarter. As part of those points, students must attend one public meeting per quarter and submit a research paper on an aspect of public policy in the second quarter. The remaining points will be earned through electives that may be a combination of different activities. Please click on the menu item on the left for full details.

Public Policy Research Paper:

The objective of this paper is to give you an in-depth understanding of one of the major public policy issues facing our country today. You will be given the opportunity to select an issue from topics provided or choose one of your own that relates to federal domestic policy. You will then be assigned a current member of the House of Representatives for whom you will write this paper. You will then research this issue from the perspective of one of their staff persons.  This is not an opinion piece or an analysis of the politician's personal views, but a thorough analysis of the issue at hand with an exploration of the pros and cons of the options available. Additional details are available on my website.

Constitution Outline

You will be memorizing an outline of the constitution with periodic quizzes used to promote a gradual approach to memorization. Not only will you be able to do well on the AP test, but you can win a lot of arguments about the U.S. Constitution when you can actually cite it correctly. The quizzes and study guides are available by clicking the menu item on the left.

Online Forum:

            I use an online forum for further discussion of classroom topics and current events. Students must sign up for the forum linked on the website during the first week of class. Students must make at least 20 posts per quarter with at least 2 per week. These posts can be in the form of questions, answers to questions and at least the posting of or commenting on 1 current event per week. The current event should include a weblink to the news article and a short synopsis of it. Posts will be totaled and points assigned one week before the end of the grading period. A maximum of 2 posts will be counted in the week prior to grading. The purpose of the forum is for ongoing relevant discussion throughout the semester.

User Account Format: First Name Last Name  Example: Joe Smith

Email Account: The supplied email account must be a Gmail account, either the one issued by the school or a privately created one.

Forum Verification Code: see syllabus for code

Recommended Materials:

 These materials are recommended for participation in this course, but not required:

  • 1 three-ring binder with paper (Spiral type notebooks are strictly prohibited)
  • Pencils and pens (standard blue or black ink only)


Grading will be based upon an objective point system using a running total as assignments are added to calculate the grade. The percentage of points earned based upon the total points possible will determine the letter grade. The semester grade is an average of the grade from both quarters. 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.

Semester Grade Calculation

Tests   30%
Con Quizzes  10%
Con Final 10%
Participation/Classwork/Homework:  30%
Citizenship Project 20%


Grading Scale

A= 100-90%

B=  89-80%

C=  79-70%

D=  69-60%

F=   59% 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 IlluminateEd. 


Late Assignments:

Late assignments will NOT be accepted, unless due to absence. If a student misses an assignment due to absence, they will have the time allowed for the assignment starting from the day they receive it, after that it will not be accepted. It is the responsibility of the student to get the work missed on the next day of attendance. Make up work at the end of the grading period for missed assignments will not be allowed.

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 expulsion proceedings.

Extra Credit:

I allow an opportunity for students to earn a maximum of 50 points of extra credit. To be eligible for this they must first complete any missing assignments for which they will receive no credit. The students then must fill out an extra credit work submission form (see website for form) and submit it to me for approval prior to beginning the project. I will assign it a possible point value based upon its level of difficulty. It is the responsibility of the student to decide upon a project, the more challenging the project, the more credit they can receive. Projects must be received two weeks prior to the end of the next grading period.

 Extra Credit Form

Behavior Standards: 

  1. Be respectful to everyone.
  2. No swearing or put downs
  3. Non academic electronic devices are forbidden during class time. I see it I take it.
  4. No grooming is allowed.
  5. The teacher’s desk is off limits.
  6. The teacher, not the bell, will dismiss students at the end of class.
  7. No one leaves until the classroom is clean and orderly.
  8. No food, drink, or gum allowed in class. (Except water)
  9. No hats, bandanas, etc. are to be worn in class.
  10. You make a mess, you clean it up.

Computer Lab rules:

My classroom is equipped with a computer lab for student research and projects. The lab is intended to enhance students’ abilities in technology and is incorporated into the various classroom projects that I utilize. Since I built the lab myself and am therefore responsible for all maintenance, it is important to maintain its abilities and make the lab available for all students use. The following rules are designed to promote this goal.

  1. The Internet is for school related research and projects only.
  2. Each student must use their log on account and log off when finished.
  3. No abuse of the computers (hacking, cracking, slapping, etc.)
  4. You may not print more than 4 pages per person without permission.
  5. Printing of pictures is done with permission only. (It costs me personally $70 for each ink cartridge.)