This is a one-semester course. Two sections will be offered the first semester, Tuesdays 1–2 p.m. or Fridays 12–1 p.m. ET. One section will be offered in the second semester, Thursday, 2:00–3:00 p.m. ET.
Why should a high school student study US government? First, everyone in The United States will be thrust into the position of voter at the age of 18. Second, the growth of our national government has meant that the federal government reaches into more and more of our everyday decisions. Third, there are a variety of issues emanating from Washington, DC, and the state capitals every day. In order to not be swayed by every passing fad, it is crucial that students understand why our political institutions exist. Lastly, an educated citizenry is necessary to carry on good public discourse and maintain our republic.
The course objective is to introduce students to the principles behind the United States government and political institutions and to enable students to interact with various viewpoints. Students will understand the historical development of our current political situation, analyze the political process, and describe how various political groups function today. The goal is for students to become familiar with public policies, our Constitutional underpinnings, and political behavior in our society. Each student should then be able to appropriately apply their understanding to evaluate how just and appropriate various political actions are. The course will include engaging group discussions in the weekly live session.
Some weekly course concepts include:
- What is a legitimate government, and how did the Founders envision it?
- What different types of federalism have been debated and utilized in American government?
- The three branches of national government (their functions, original design, and current practices)
- Political parties and their role in American government
- How does policymaking occur?
- What is the role of the bureaucracy?
- The Constitution and the limits it places on government activities
- How does the media shape perceptions?
- America’s role in the world (past and present)
The honors level is designed for students that are advanced and would like to explored the topic in more depth. The honors section will have one extra assignment per week. It may require more difficult reading and writing elements. Everything else (including quizzes) will remain the same.
Students will have weekly homework assignments, which will reinforce and expand upon the classroom discussions. Regular assignments may include watching a video online, reading an article, or completing worksheets. Some examples of assignments include the following: playing a simulation game about the tasks of the president, writing an essay about the life of a founding father, comparing viewpoints about US foreign policy before WWII, evaluating media sources and their coverage of current events, and contrasting the platforms of various political parties. There is an estimated 3-4 hours of work per week outside of the live class. Every class is recorded and I post the recording for viewing after each class. Therefore, students can catch up if they happen to miss the live session. There is one quiz and assignment to be completed after the final live class session.
This course can be used to satisfy the prerequisite for my AP US Government and Politics course.
Who should enroll?
This course is for students in grades 9-12 and is designed to fulfill the typical requirements of a high school government course. The maximum class size is 16 students to encourage student engagement.
- High speed, broadband Internet
- Web cam, sound card, and microphone (for live sessions)
- Streaming video capabilities to watch recorded lectures
Evaluation and Feedback
Students will receive comments and individualized feedback on their assignments via Canvas. Work will be graded, and student questions will be addressed in a timely manner.
Parents do not need to contact me before registering for this class. I will confirm registration and provide a welcome email to students. All parents should join Canvas as observers, and I will respond to all parental questions.