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Course: Government of the United States

V Government of the United States • Offering for 2019 • Grade 11 or above • Government Sequence
* Primary Instructor
Holli Manzo
* Sections
[Enrolled students will be notified if teacher schedules change between course posting at the time enrollment opens and the scheduled start of classes. Please see Tuition and Fees for refund policy.]
Section dates, meeting times, and tuition are still being determined.
* Website
Please review more extensive materials at the teacher's Government of the United States website.
* Description
This course explores what it means for a government action, policy, or bill to follow the guidelines and strictures of the United States’ Constitution. Beginning with a study of the philosophies and documents that influenced the creation of the Constitution, we then compare different methods of Constitutional interpretation and how they affect action and policy development. This introductory unit lays a foundation for our explorations of the three branches of government, the Bill of Rights and subsequent amendments, the interactions between federal and state governments, and the role the public plays in our democratic republic; in each, we return to our inciting question and assess how these features of modern government fit -- or do not fit -- with the vision of the Constitution. As we progress, we highlight the interactions between branches and how the system of checks and balances works in practice. We also apply our growing knowledge to a weekly discussion of current events (focusing on federal activities, foreign affairs, policy in action, and prominent public debates) and how they reflect the purpose and workings of the government. This is not a course designed to instruct students in one single political mindset; instead, it is intended to encourage the students to develop their political understanding and better be able to discuss, analyze, and argue their personal opinions.
* Meetings
This course meets 2 times per week for discussion and review of assigned homework.
* Homework
Weekly homework will consist of assigned limited reading paired with reflected journal entries, submitted via the Moodle. Each unit, students will be expected to complete a Unit Project; project research and planning will be spread out over the whole unit. Finally, students will be asked to regularly read a news source of their choice and submit brief responses.
* Prerequisites
A good working knowledge of the history of the United States is required. This could be fulfilled through US AP History or through some other US History course. If a student has taken neither of these courses, other arrangements might be possible, depending on the student's level of study in the field.
* Recommended background
See prerequisites.
* Instructor's Notes
A Note on the AP Government and Politics Exam: This is not an AP certified course, and we are not specifically preparing for the AP Government and Politics Exam. However, we will cover a great majority of the information on that test, and will practice analysing and synthesizing that information -- two key skills tested on AP exams. Students who plan on taking the AP test should supplement with an AP preparation book, course, or set of videos to make sure they have sufficient exposure to the variety of questions that could be asked. I have found many free online supplements for the AP Government and Politics course that could fit this role, including materials from College Board, the National Constitution Center, Khan Academy, and several YouTube playlists (such as CrashCourse - Government and Politics). I am certain there are many more out there. I am also available for AP Gov-focused tutorials. As this course continues into early June, AP students may wish to “look ahead” at information covered in the last two units, so that they are fully prepared for the exam.
V Textbooks and Materials
* Constitution of the United States of America. (Edition: 1)
James Madison et al.
This text is required.
ISBN: None
Publisher's website: Constitution of the United States of America.
Best sources: Online
Other information: Obviously this text is widely available, including many full-text online versions, one of which is linked here. Any version will serve, so long as the student can refer to it easily. Annotated versions, in any form, are welcome but not required. See course description for further details on course materials.


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