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AP Government Course Description and Syllabus


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									                                AP Government - Course Description and Syllabus

This course is about the American political system. We will discuss the role of political parties, the development of
political ideology, and the role of our national government. Students will be expected to learn about the role of special
interest groups, voting patterns and elections, as well as both domestic and foreign policy in its current application. A
major part of this class will be centered on these ideas combined with current situations and events.

The major areas that will be covered in class: 1) the constitutional underpinnings of the American government, 2) political
beliefs and behavior, 3) political parties and special interest groups, 4) institutions, 5) public policy development, and 6)
civil liberties. These 6 areas correspond directly to the AP Test for American Government.

General Expectations
This is a college level class. I will conduct the class in this manner. Therefore, students are expected act appropriately
and to learn both in and out of the classroom. Missing class and late work will not be tolerated and it will fall upon the
students to keep updated with the class and the material. It is expected for students to read material to keep up with
current events so that they can apply what they have learned in class. NOTE – You will need to understand all the
reading material whether or not it is discussed in class and you will be tested on this as well. Also, ALL students are
expected to take the AP American Government Exam in May. You cannot pass the class without taking the exam.

Text and Readings
The texts for this class will be Government in America by Edwards, Wattenberg, and Lineberry and American Government
Readings and Cases by Peter Woll. This textbook is written to the level of a junior in college. The assignments for the
readings must be done prior to class and will be used in discussion. Since this is a college level class, students are
expected to take notes from reading and my lectures. Supplemental readings will be assigned to each chapter and will be
determined at that time. On average, students will have approximately 40 pages of readings a week.
Grading - The Grading Scale is: 90% and above = A ; 80% and above = B; 70% and above = C; 60% and above = D;
59% and below = not passing. Grades are based upon the following: Formative Work, Summative Work, and Summer
        Formative Work (30%)- Any work that is forming knowledge about the subject such as homework, classwork,
        projects, and PMAs (Progress Monitoring Assessments). There will also be several current events assignments
        throughout the semester. Homework will generally be collected on a weekly basis. The majority of students who
        do not do well in this class do not do homework on a regular basis. Quizzes will be given on material that has
        been assigned or on current event articles. Generally, there will be one “reading quiz” a week. Students will also
        be expected to ask questions, give feedback, give solid opinions on topics that are being discussed. These are a
        form of assessment and I will closely monitor these grades everyday. You can also expect to have group projects
        on a regular basis.

        Summative Work (60%)- Any items displaying the mastery of the subject such as exams, quizzes and
        discussions. Exams will be given after breaks in the curriculum as I have tried to link together different chapters.
        They will consist of multiple choice as well as essay questions. Generally, there will be four exams spaced evenly
        through the curriculum designed to closely match the AP Exam model, though this will be subject to change. We
        will occasionally have formal graded discussions for you to display your knowledge of the subject. Finally, there
        will be a full AP Government Exam as a final (60 multiple choice questions in 45 minutes, and 4 free
        response/essay questions in 110 minutes).

        Summer Work (10%) – Due the first week of class in the fall no matter which semester you are enrolled. If you
        have added the class, or did not receive the assignment, you must fulfill the following requirements during the
        semester you take the course to receive credit for summer work. All work is to be typed and placed into a
        folder with your name.

NOTE – This syllabus is subject to change at any time.                                                          Revised 5/08
                                                      SUMMER WORK

The major assignment for summer is based on a novel most of you are already reading for AP lit, 1984. The assignment
is in this packet, but it can also be found online on the blog (see below).

                                     1984: An AP Government Perspective
1984 is an excellent way to think about government, power, and the role of the individual.
    1.     First, create a cheat-sheet of rights found within the Bill of Rights. Include the Amendment and the right/rights
          that are protected. You need this sheet for #2.
    2.    1984 is broken down into 3 parts. Each part has chapters with Roman numerals (Part 1 has 8 chapters, Part 2
          has 10 chapters, and Part 3 has 6 chapters). Keep a log of Bill of Rights violations as you read 1984; for each
          chapter, find 2-3 violations. You must tell which Amendment was violated, and how. Include the page number
          and a brief description. Your log should look something like this:
               a. Part 1, ch. 1, pg. 24-25: Wilson explained how children were used as spies and could report anything
                    their parents said to the Thought Police. This is a violation of the 1st Amendment. If you have to watch
                    everything you say for fear of being arrested, you don’t truly have freedom of speech.
          **Important: pages 184-217 are like a book within a book. Be sure you read it, but for this section you do not
          need to find violations.
    3.    Compare the basic system of government in Oceania to the United States. (Hint: think ministries and branches)
    4.    What is the difference between the “Proles” and the Party members in Oceania?
    5.    Explain Enlightenment philosophy and its influence on the Declaration of Independence and United States
    6.    Explain how the government portrayed in 1984 could not exist in the United States. Use the ideas you explored
          in #1 and #5.
    7.    Explain Oceania’s methods to restrict freedom of speech and expression. In your opinion, why is speech and
          language such a focus of government control?
    8.    In addition to language, Oceania controls information. Why does the government change history, news reports,
    9.    Find a definition of political socialization and write a definition in your own words. Explain the government’s
          method of socialization in Oceania.
    10.    “Big Brother is watching you.” In a 3-5 page essay, answer the following questions:
               a. Summarize your understanding of 1984.
               b. In your opinion, what are the 3 most important lessons about government and power from the book?
                    Use specific examples to support your ideas. HINT: questions 1-9 should help you make choices and
                    explain your reasoning.

If you have questions about the novel, come to one of several meeting sessions over summer. I’ll post the dates in the
GOVAP blog. Also, you do NOT need to read the appendix unless you really want to do so.

In Addition—keeping up with current events
Blog postings: This year there is a new blog for AP Gov. The website, Viking AP Govblog, can be found at
http://romzilla.edublogs.org/. Edublogs is a trusted site, approved by EGUSD. The only thing you will need to do is create
a password/name to add to your posts; do not use your real name for security. Your password is very simple: use your
initials and the first 4 numbers of your ID number. I will show you how to reply during the AP meeting, but if you have a
question, you can always e-mail me. You will need to post at least 3 substantive responses on the site; the directions
are found at Viking AP Govblog. Substantive responses are meaningful, insightful, and show me you are thinking about
the topic. “I agree with George” is not a substantive response. Most posts will be in response to current events.

NOTE – This syllabus is subject to change at any time.                                                        Revised 5/08
Follow the news: Notice the title of the course? It involves Government and politics. If you can relate the theoretical
concepts of the course to actual events, you are much more likely to understand and retain the material…and the class
will be much more interesting. You will also do much better on the Free Response section of the exams if you can cite
current examples. There are many ways of keeping up with current events:
 Check the following news websites frequently and add them to your “Favorites” (i.e., www.cnn.com/politics,
     news.bbc.co.uk, today.reuters.com, www.foxnews.com/politics, www.nytimes.com, etc…). You can subscribe to
     some of the site’s free service for automatic e-mail updates.
 Read the Sacramento Bee and look for key stories on the front page that relate to national and international news.
     Check out the editorials, letters to the editor, and “op-ed” pieces.
 Watch network (not local) news broadcasts that concentrate on national news.
 Read the weekly magazines (i.e., Time, Newsweek, The Economist, U.S. News and World Report, etc.)
 Listen to National Public Radio (NPR) on 88.9 and/or 90.9 FM

Contact and questions – Email me at any time at vikingapgov@hotmail.com, jbuckmas@egusd.net, or through Loop
Mail if it’s up this summer. If I do not have your email address, please email me as soon as possible with the
subject line “AP Government.” If you do not have an email address, get one now! I welcome any questions,
comments, or suggestions you may have.

Summer meetings: I will be at Valley from time to time, and will setup at least 2 meetings. They are completely optional,
but may help you with summer material. Look for details at Viking AP Govblog.

NOTE – This syllabus is subject to change at any time.                                                      Revised 5/08

I accept the terms for AP Government summer work. I understand that summer work constitutes 10% of the grade in AP
Government. I also understand that this contract includes parental permission to use http://romzilla.edublogs.org/. I
encourage parents to view the site before signing, if desired. I have 2 children myself, and would not use this site if I
didn’t feel it was trustworthy. I also encourage students and parents to sign up for School Loop for grades,
communication, etc.

PRINT STUDENT NAME: _______________________________________________

Student Signature:___________________________

Student e-mail: ____________________________             Student using School Loop? Y      N

Parent/Guardian Signature:_______________________

Parent/Guardian e-mail: ________________________________ parent/guardian using School Loop? Y               N


NOTE – This syllabus is subject to change at any time.                                                      Revised 5/08

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