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American Government


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.


  • 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 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 physical classroom, as well as Google Classroom. Hence, the excuse of not knowing about assignments or due dates will not be accepted.



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


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


Assignments are turned into google classroom and will include:

  • Chapter notes
  • Article responses
  • Online chapter quizzes 

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 each quarter. You must attend one public meeting per quarter and and complete one elective per quarter.  In addition, you will be assigned to a current events group, which will follow a designated current event for the week and report on it as a group during the current events discussions on Fridays.

Public Policy 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 that relates to federal domestic policy. You will then be assigned a specific congressional district for whose current member of the House of Representatives 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.

This project is broken down into smaller research assignments that build upon each other and are tied to specific units with the goal of teaching the steps to creating a research paper. You must turn in this paper to earn a C or better in this class to achieve credit as an A-G class. 


Classroom Standards:

Required Materials:

These materials will be required for participation in this course and you will be required to bring them to class every day.

  • Personal Learning Device (Chromebook, laptop, or mobile tablet)
  • 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!

Late Assignments:

  • 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 full credit until the due date of the next policy paper assignment.
  • Tests must be made up by the end of the following week

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.

Behavior Standards: 

  • Be respectful to everyone.
  • Be on time
  • Respect everyone's personal space.
  • No eating in class.
  • No one leaves until the classroom is clean and orderly.