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American Government

Fall Semester 2009

Ms. Lussier,

Rooms 312 (1st hour), 316 (2nd hour)



Course Description

This course is an introduction to the basic concepts of American government, the American political process and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. It is a one semester course offered primarily to senior students.  The course is designed to meet the state standards in social studies in the area of government, is a required course for graduation from high schools within the Mpls. Public Schools, and will help prepare students for a college level government course.  Additionally, this course also serves to create more informed citizens who are prepared to experience the challenges and joys that come from being an actively involved citizen. The following are topics that will be addressed in this course:

  • Roots of democracy
  • Principles of U.S. government
  • Role and structure of government
  • Three Branches of Government: Executive, Legislative, Judicial
  • Forms of government
  • Political Parties
  • Local and state government structure and processes
  • Sovereign status of American Indian nations
  • Provisions of the U.S. Constitution, Amendments and Bill of Rights
  • Definition, rights and responsibilities of citizenship
  • Voting and Elections
  • Historic and current public policy issues
  • U.S. in world affairs


Course Objectives

At the end of the course student should be able to:

  • understand the forces that impacted the founding of the United States
  • demonstrate knowledge of the continuing impact of the Declaration of Independence in the U.S. and worldwide.
  • understand the process of creating the U.S. Constitution.
  • demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the principles upon which the U.S. government is based.
  • know sources of power and authority of the United States government.
  • know how the U.S. Constitution seeks to prevent the abuse of power.
  • understand tensions that exist between key principles of government in the United States.
  • demonstrate understanding of how the different forms of government impact the social, political, and economic aspects of people’s lives.
  • understand Minnesota state and local government structure and political processes.
  • understand the sovereign status of American Indian nations.
  • understand the scope and limits of rights, the relationship among them, and how they are secured.
  • know how citizenship is defined, established, and exercised and how it has changed over time.
  • understand how public policy is made, enforced, and interpreted by the legislative, executive, and judicial branches.
  • understand the role and influence of political processes and organizations.
  • know how constitutional amendments and Supreme Court interpretations of the Constitution have increased the impact of the Constitution on people's lives.
  • analyze the relationships and interactions between the United States and other nations and evaluate the role of the U.S. in world affairs.
  • analyze various methods of civic engagement needed to fulfill responsibilities of a citizen of a republic.

What you should bring to class everyday:

    • textbook
    • spiral bound notebook
    • pen, pencil, eraser
    • loose leaf paper
    • pocket folder


  • Assessments

?       Unit and/or end of chapter tests.

?       Announced or unannounced quizzes.

?       End of quarter exam.

?       Individual and group projects.

?       Presentation of student work

?       Journal writing.

?       Position paper

?       Research paper.

  • Classwork

?       There will be daily warm-ups at the start of every class.  Begin on them as soon as class starts and complete them in a timely manner.  All of the warm-ups must be kept together in a folder. You will have a quiz based on your warm-ups every two weeks

?       Daily assignments will consist of taking notes, chapter assignments, media research, power point presentations, written work, small group work, short answer essays, class discussions and individual and group projects.

?       Read assigned text and be prepared to actively participate in class discussions based on the reading.

  • Homework

?       Successfully complete all assigned work. 

?       Plan to spend several hours a week on homework and test preparation. 

?       Review and reflect upon notes and completed assignments.  This is a good study habit that will help you to retain information, prepare for tests and prepare you for college.


Ø      Follow all school-wide rules, including no cell phones, electronics, language, dress code, food and academic honesty will be enforced in this class.

Ø      Come to class on time everyday.  School attendance and tardy policies will be adhered to.

Ø      Late students must have a late pass in order to enter the classroom.

Ø      Bring all necessary materials to class every day:  Textbook, notebook, pen/pencil, warm-up folder.

Ø      Come to class prepared to learn and ready to work hard.   Be your best and always do your best.

Ø      Turn in assignments on time.

Ø      Your work should be your work and not copied or completed by someone else. Falsified work will not be accepted and result in zero points for all involved individuals for that assignment.

Ø      Students are not allowed to have food or drinks outside of the cafeteria.

Ø      Be respectful towards yourself, others and property.  Clean up after yourself.

Grading Policies 


Grading:  Grades are based on a point system.  All assignments will contribute to your overall grade.  Assignments will vary in point value.  Assignments include, but are not limited to, class work, warm-ups, homework assignments, projects, class participation, quizzes and tests.


Absences:       Eight absences from class will result in no credit for the course.

Tardies:          Excessive tardies will negatively impact your grade


Grade Categories:


Class work



Tests & Quizzes


Extra credit may be available and the amount of points is determined on an assignment by assignment basis.


The grading scale:
93- 100%            =       A        

90  -  93%           =       A-

87  -  90%           =       B+

83  -  87%           =       B         

80  -  83%           =       B-

77  -  80%           =       C+

73  -  77%           =       C        

70  -  73%           =       C-

67  -  70%           =       D+

63  -  67%           =       D        

60  -  63%           =       D-

0    -  60%           =       F


Missed Work Due to Absence:            

Make up work due to an absence is your responsibility as a student.  Please come to me to collect missed work.  I will not track you down to give you assignments. Assignments and assessments may be completed during my tutorial time. An assignment due on the day a student is absent will be due the day the student returns to school.

Ø      Eight absences from class will result in no credit. 

You must be here to learn from the classroom experience.



Late Homework:

Late homework will receive a grade reduction if turned in after the due date.  

Late assignments will not be accepted after 1 week from the due date. 

Late homework may not be corrected as promptly as homework turned in on time.

Late homework might be lost since it is not with the rest of the homework assignments.



Students must obtain permission from me prior to leaving the room and must have a pass with them at all times while in the hallways.


§         Parents may contact me via email or telephone, however, email is preferred.  I will get back to you in a day or so after receiving your message unless I am out of the building.  My email and voice mail number is indicated at the top of the page.

Academic Support

  • I will hold tutorials on Wednesdays.  I will make an announcement if for any reason I have to cancel a tutorial.


Course Calendar


Quarter I

Essential Questions:

·        How does the American form of government reflect and express the ideals of the worth and rights of individuals, the rule of the majority and the rights of the minority, equality and justice, and the common good?

·        How do the ideals of a nation shape its civil liberties and work to balance interests in a diverse nation?



1. Roots of Democracy, Role of Government, and Human Nature

2. Structure of U. S. Government

3. Forms of Government

4. State and Local Government

5. Sovereign Nations


Quarter II

Essential Question:

·        How have citizens worked both inside and outside of the current theories and the current practices of American Government to shape our society and the world?



6. Citizenship, Empowerment, Participation, and Civil Disobedience

7. Public Policy and Current Issues

8. Foreign Policy

Floating Unit: Social Studies Research and Communication Skills


American Government Fall 2009                  Please Return this Portion of your syllabus to Ms. Lussier                                                                        Keep the remainder of the syllabus for your use.                           

I have read and understand the above course syllabus, including expectations for student behavior and the grading and assignment policies.


___________________________________________________    Date___________________

Printed student name


___________________________________________________    Date___________________

Student signature


___________________________________________________    Date___________________

Printed Parent/Guardian Name


___________________________________________________    Date___________________

Printed Parent/Guardian Signature