U. S. Government Honors Instructor: Contact Information

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U.S. Government - Honors
Instructor: Contact Information:

Mr. Scott Meikle, Room 624 smeikle@interact.ccsd.net

Website: (702) 799 – 7870 ext. 3624


Course Scope

This one-year survey course is a study of federal, state, local, and tribal governments designed to give students a critical perspective on government and politics in the United States. This course will involve the study of general concepts and analyses of specific case studies as they pertain to the interpretation of American government and politics. Students will become familiar with the various institutions, groups, beliefs, and ideas that comprise the American political reality.

Course Goals

1. To understand the essentials of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the national, state, and local governments, as well as tribal governments.

2. To recognize the contributions made by the founding fathers toward developing the constitutional underpinnings of American democracy.

3. To understand the sources of public authority and political power.

4. To develop an understanding of the interrelationships between political beliefs and behaviors of individuals in a democratic society.

5. To observe the role of political parties and interest groups in the American political system.

6. To understand the growth and development of American bureaucracy.

7. To develop an awareness of law, civil liberties, and civil rights.

8. To relate the political process to economics and geography.

9. To appreciate the multicultural aspects of American society.

10. To develop critical thinking and writing skills which will aid in the process of analysis and interpretation of data relevant to American government and politics.

11. To explore career opportunities in the fields of political science and government service.

12. To understand the rights and responsibilities of a United States citizen.

13. To compare the major political systems of the world.

14. To understand the major economic systems of the world.

15. To understand the role of government as it applies to foreign policy and trade.

16. To develop skills necessary to use informational tools, including technology.

17. To examine the concepts of ethics, respect, empathy, honor, and courage as they apply to government and politics.

Please Note:

  • The order of the syllabus is to be taught at the discretion of the teacher.

  • This course will fulfill the one United States Government credit required for graduation.

A. Textbook:

McClenaghan, William A. Magruder’s American Government. New Jersey: Pearson, 2003.

B. Supplemental materials

Items, such as political and historical documents, writings, documentaries, bibliographies, etc., will also be used throughout the year. These will be supplied by the instructor, or directions will be given so the students can obtain such records.

C. Required items:

- Three-ring binder

- College-ruled notebook paper

- Pens (Black or Blue ink only) and #2 Pencils

D. Suggested items

- Whiteout

- Highlighter

- Stapler

- Three-hole punch

- Post-it notes

Course Outline

A. Chronological Order and Topics

1. Importance of government in society 11. Interest Groups

2. Philosophical and historical foundations 12. Legislative Branch

3. Drafting and writing the Constitution 13. Executive Branch

4. Ratifying the Constitution 14. Judicial Branch

5. The structure of the Constitution 15. Additional amendments

6. Bill of Rights related to individual

7. Election Process rights

8. Media and Public Opinion 16. Remaining amendments

8. Media and Public Opinion 17. Economic and Political

9. Citizenship Systems

10. Political Parties 18. International Relations

19. State Governments

20. Local Government

B. Methodologies and criteria for grading

This course will include varied techniques for instruction. These assignments will also be graded, with the total points available determining the weight for that particular assignment. These methods will include:

- Cooperative group work - Chart work - AV presentations

- In class assignments - Quizzes - Chapter Content Guides

- Lecture and discussion - Tests

Grading Policy
A. Grading Scale

A .......... 90 – 100 % B .......... 80 – 89 % C .......... 70 – 79 %

D .......... 60 – 69 % F .......... 0 – 59 %

Your nine-week grade will be based on a cumulative point system and the percentage of the total points earned. Total points available will vary each nine-week period. The instructor reserves the right to modify the grading scale, on an assignment or test, as needed. There is no curve for the class.

B. Quarter weights

Homework / Class Work = 15% Projects/Presentations = 35%

Quizzes = 15% Tests = 35%
C. Semester weights

Quarter Grade ………. ……….40 %

Semester Exam Grade ………. 20 %
D. Tests and Quizzes

An average of two oral quizzes will be given for each chapter covered in class.

Each chapter will include a test. The tests will generally include 25 – 40 multiple choice questions and an evaluation of primary source information.
E. Essay Prompts

Each unit will include an essay prompt. It is an outside, research-based prompt which will reinforce and explore the topic we are currently studying. This paper will be 4-5 pages in length. In addition, there will be a requirement in sources, citation, and format. The requirements for each response will be given with the prompt.

F. Projects

Each quarter, a project-based assignment will be given. These projects may include any of the following: simulations, student made videos, posters, brochures, sketches, etc.

G. Make-up Policy

The following is from CCSD policy 5113, regarding make-up work. This is the policy that I will follow:

“After any absence, a secondary student is required to initiate contact with the teacher(s) to obtain appropriate makeup work within three school days immediately following the absence. Once contact has been made with the teacher(s), specific makeup work must be completed and returned to the teacher(s) within a reasonable length of time, to be determined by the teacher and communicated to the student/parent or legal guardian. The makeup work must be returned to the teacher(s) by the specified due date if it is to be acknowledged. Students shall be allowed a minimum of three (3) days to complete makeup work.”

In addition to the above policy, the following policies will also be enforced:

  • Arrangements will be made using a log book located at my desk. All assignments and/or arrangements will be tracked; this is for your protection as well as mine.

  • If you miss a quiz or test you may NOT make this up during class. You will have to come in before or after school.

  • Any assignment given prior to an absence is due the first day of the student’s return. Special cases will be accepted, but this is at the teacher’s discretion.

H. Citizenship Grade

Each quarter, you will be assessed a citizenship grade. Essentially, I will determine your level of citizenship as it pertains to this class. Things I will look for, in terms of determining your grade, will be:

- Interest in current events.

- Ability to connect the past with the present.

- A genuine interest in the material, as it is presented.

- A positive and productive attitude towards this class and subject matter.

The grade given for this section will be as follows:

- O = Outstanding

- S = Satisfactory

- N = Needs improvement

- U = Unsatisfactory
I. Notebooks

It is not my intention to check notebooks on a regular basis. However, I will “spot-check” students from time-to-time to ensure compliance. How you construct and use the notebook is your own choice. I believe you will find an organized and up-to-date notebook to be a useful tool for achieving success in this course.

Cornell Notes will be required for all in-class notes that you will take.

J. Homework

Homework is considered late if it is not turned in at the time it is collected in class. Therefore, for full credit, work MUST be handed in on the due date. Any assignment turned in late will receive a 50% reduction in grade. Once the unit/chapter has been completed, no missing work may be handed in for that topic. Missing work will be entered as a 0 in the grade book.

If a student is absent the day an assignment is collected, it is expected that the assignment is turned in the next day the student has returned to school. Extended absences can be discussed with the teacher.
K. Expectations on assignments

Spelling, grammar, neatness, and following directions are required on ALL assignments. Failure to adhere to these standards will result in a loss of points.

L. Extra Credit

It is not my general policy to offer extra credit. However, extenuating circumstances in the news (events, special occasions, etc.) may offer an opportunity to extend an extra credit assignment. This is at my sole discretion. Information will be given when appropriate.

Classroom Behavior and Expectations

As all of you are experienced at being in the classroom, all of you should know what is expected of you. However, here are some of the general rules pertaining to this class:

1. Show respect to faculty, staff, and other students at all times.

- This includes raising your hand to be called upon and not interrupting while others are speaking.

2. No racial or ethnic slurs, nor sexually suggestive language, will be tolerated at any time.

3. Be prepared to start class at the appropriate time.

- This includes having all of the appropriate supplies and assignments.

4. No unauthorized work on computers.

- This includes visiting websites that are deemed inappropriate by the school.

5. No food or drink is allowed in the classroom.

6. Students can only leave the class with a corridor pass.

7. No use of personal electronic devices (Ipods, cell phones, etc).

- There is absolutely no need for these in class, and they will be confiscated if found. This process is explained in the Student Handbook.

8. All of the other school policies printed in the Parent/Student Handbook will be adhered to at all time.

*Please Note*:

1. A-TECH employs a progressive discipline policy which can be found in the Parent/Student handbook.

2. Students will be expected to follow these policies at all times.

3. I will notify students of any changes, if necessary, to the general classroom rules.


Each case is different, but here is a general list of consequences for breaking any of the classroom rules.

1. Verbal warning

2. Rearrangement of seats

3. Conference with the teacher

4. Loss of Participation Points

5. Notification call to parents

*In severe cases, students may be referred to the Dean of Students*

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