9th Grade Civics
Course Syllabus/Cover Sheet
Your glossary defines civics as “what it means to be a U. S. citizen.” In this course you will hopefully develop a better understanding for the foundations of government, its frameworks and institutions, and how that all affects you. Government is a necessary part of life (unless, of course, you’re a fan of anarchy)-- the question is— how much and where do you draw the line? The size, shape and role of government provides the fundamental difference between the two major political parties in our country and colors their respective view on many an issue. I hope you recognize that individually and collectively, you will have the ability to shape and influence public policy. I look forward to some spirited debate as you consider “the way things ought to be.”
In this class, you will do more than read the book, take some notes and spit it all back on test day. You will be asked to think, be creative and evaluate issues and topics at hand. One of the main goals of the class is to equip you with the skills necessary to be successful in future Social Studies courses. Reading, note-taking, and essay construction will all be areas of focus. We will also be sharing thematic strategies, test-prep ideas, and you'll be hard-sold the advantage of study groups.
I want this to be your class, get involved!! Whether you realize it or not, you will all contribute and shape society to some degree. You will (and already do) have a circle of influence; and that will continue to extend outward like ripples on a pond. This class should, if we can work well together, allow you to think critically and develop your skills as a student. If the course is to be ultimately successful, you should find yourself more interested in developing and exploring questions than with memorizing answers. The idea is not necessarily more work (quantity of), but rather greater depth and academic efficiency (quality of). Enjoy!Rules:
I assume all of you are familiar with the various do’s and don’ts of classroom behavior. I’ll expect the same. Remember, it’s your ability to speak freely and listen to one another that will greatly determine the effectiveness of the class. A few expectations:
**If I have a problem with something, expect a warning of some sort. If things continue, your daily grade will be reduced and your guardian/parent(s) will be called.
“Discipline yourself and others won’t have to.” -- John Wooden
How the Course will be Taught:
The course will include the following: class discussion/debate, notes, simulations, individual readings, individual and group projects, collaboration work and analysis, and a variety of assessments. Hopefully, it will provide enough of a blend that we can stay fresh and accomplish a lot.Subject Matter and Outline
Your grade will be based on a percentage generated from a total number of points.
-- points will be allocated in the following manner:
Assessments/Tests – You will be given assessments in conjunction with each unit. The format will vary—but tests will always have you tackling some multiple choice and free response questions. Whatever the case, you will be given plenty of notice in advance.
Writing Assignments – You will be expected to write in conjunction with this class—welcome and enjoy it. You will be asked to hand in a paper each quarter and we will be doing some reflective work here and there. Don’t be taken aback— you’re in this class to prepare for things to come. I want you to write as freely as you speak (it’s really the same thing); open up and enjoy it—there’s a certain immortality to written expression—think about it.
Special Projects – You will be completing a few projects—individually and/or in groups, and perhaps as a class. Hopefully, these things will be enjoyable and won’t cause too much pain. In any case, they will be best explained when the time comes.
Daily Work - Anything that’s completed in class or for class will factor into this grade. Don’t expect too much in the way of worksheets (you won’t be busy-worked)-- everything else, should keep you plenty busy.
** The Reader – You will be compiling a “reader.” The Reader will be a collection of articles that speak to, relate to our units and topics.
Participation – This is the purely subjective portion of your grade. Much of what we do will involve dialogue and discussion, and I would like to see you all involved. Your contributions, effort and involvement relative to your personality are what I will attempt to measure.
LATE WORK/EXTRA CREDIT – No late work SHOULD be accepted, unless it’s an excused absence. When given an assignment, complete it-- that’s the expectation in the real world (however, we will work within the parameters of RTI).
**Also, no extra credit (again, RTI might come into play), which is simply a clever way of saying “instead of credit.”
Have fun with this class and good luck!!
4th Period Civics...
(Civic Virtue - 8/30/13):
- Civic Knowledge: awareness and connection to issues/society
- Self-Restraint: self-discipline and maturity (delayed gratification)
- Self-Assertion: confident, strong, purposeful
- Self-Reliance: independent, competent, provide for self
- synthesis ('bring together')
Policy and Problem-Solving (in the classroom):
1 - How do we get more people engaged (participating) in class?
2 - What can we do, individually and collectively, to commit to reading discipline/reading fitness?
3 - How enjoyable and/or fun should class be? How much focus, content, learning can we sacrifice to create more of that?
4 - Does it really matter how much we learn or what we learn? Should we measure it? If so, how?
5 - Is there anything we could create in the next two months might have lasting value?
6 - Work ethic, discipline-- how can we strengthen these things?
7 - Maturity (as defined as long-term thinking replacing, or at least competing with, 'immediate gratification'-- do you feel society is selling you superficiality (things that lack meaning/depth)/irreverence (a 'don't care' attitude)? Can/should this be fixed? - how?
8 - Where do you find your motivation as a student? If you want to step harder on the gas pedal, what gets in the way?
9 - What do you like about our test design? What could be improved?
10 - How could we do more to better challenge some of you and better support others?
11 - Our female students are outperforming our male students-- is that a problem that can/should be addressed or fixed?
12 - It's been said that true intelligence is realizing how little one knows-- do you agree? how hungry are you to stretch your mind? should all classes attempt that?
Governments and Citizenship - Unit I
Democracy Government Republic
Naturalization Natural Rights Constitution
Demographics Dictatorship Monarchy
Rule of Law Communism Alien
Racial Profiling Affirmative Action Immigrant
Be Able To
1. Discuss American citizens in relationship to the terms duties and responsibilities.
2. Explain the process by which an immigrant becomes a U.S. Citizen.
3. Distinguish between the various types of government by explaining who holds power and what rights the average citizen has.
4. Discuss two demographic trends given by the Census Department and their potential
impact on policy and society. (think economic, social and political)
5. Discuss the current and historical reasons for immigration and the +/- ramifications
for the United States.
American Revolution and Constitution - Unit II
Magna Carta Natural Rights Articles of Confederation
Social Contract Constitution The Federalist Papers
Higher Law Bicameral Declaration of Independence
Anti-Federalist Bill of Rights Checks and Balances
Delegate Federalism Elastic Clause
Enumerated Due Process
Be Able To
1. Explain the opinions of John Locke and Thomas Hobbes on the role of government.
2. Describe the critical events which led to the American Revolution.
3. Why did the founding fathers write a Declaration of Independence and explain the 4 parts of it.
4. Discuss the differences between the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution and the
reasons for these discrepancies.
5. Explain how the Constitution is organized and why?
Political Parties and Elections - Unit III
Public Policy Public Opinion Split Ticket
Political Action Committees Interest Groups Lobbyists
Political Platform Approval Rating Propaganda
Nonpartisan Registration Spin
Mass Media Opinion Poll Campaign Finance
Be Able To
1. Discuss the characteristics, functions, and organization of political parties (including third
2. Discuss how public opinion is used by politicians in electioneering and the formation of public policy.
3. Discuss media accuracy and the roles it plays in public policy, public opinion and elections.
4. Trace the path of a presidential candidate from announcement to the White House.
5. Discuss voting patterns and turnout in the U.S and how this affects public policy.
-- Discuss the Electoral College's winner-take-all system and explain why it is still around today.
The Legislative Branch - Unit IV
Riders Bill 'Pork Barrel' (earmarks)
Conference Committee Congressional District Floor Leader
Joint Committee Legislation Filibuster
President Pro Tempore Select Committee Speaker of the House
Standing Committee Empty Legislation Interest Groups
Gridlock Seniority Lobbyists 8
Be Able To
1. Discuss party leadership/discipline (partisanship) and its role in Congress..
2. Trace the path of a bill from introduction to presidential signing.
3. Discuss the requirements for and term length of the House of Reps. and the Senate and how these differences shape each house.
4. Explain 3 or 4 things that stop Congress from “fixing” our problems.
5. Explain the oversight function of Congress.
The Executive Branch - Unit V
Bureaucracy Cabinet Diplomacy/Diplomat
Electoral College Budget Deficit Executive Agreement
Executive Privilege Foreign Policy PardonPresidential Succession (22A) Imperial Presidency Honeymoon
Be Able To
1. Discuss the characteristics, functions, and organization of the Cabinet.
2. Discuss the Powers and Roles of the President.
3. Discuss the relationship between public opinion, the media, and presidential power.
4. Describe the size, scope and purpose of the Bureaucracy in the United States.
5. Describe the roles of the major players in the formation of Foreign Policy.
--Discuss the role and function of the various tools used to carry out foreign policy.
The Judicial Branch - Unit VI
Probable Cause Common Law (v code) Suffrage
Concurring Opinion Dissenting Opinion Civil Courts
Court of Appeals 'Judicial Review' Precedent
Civil Rights Civil Liberties Due Process
Trial Courts Civil v Criminal Law LRE
recidivism original jurisdiction burden of proof
Be Able To
1. Discuss the role of 'politics' within the Supreme Court.
2. Discuss the characteristics, functions, and organization of criminal, civil and appellate courts.
3. Explain how the Supreme Court selects which cases to hear, how it reaches a decision and
the affect that process has on history here in the United States.
4. Understand the rights you are guaranteed under the Bill of Rights.
5. Understand how the Supreme Court “changes” the meaning of the Bill of Rights.
State and Local Government – Unit VII
term limits school vouchers the line item veto
TABOR Amendment mandates council-manager
zoning ordinances assessor
transparency fees and fines accountability/transparency
grants-in-aid excise taxes the 10th Amendment
health and human services...
Be Able To
1. Discuss the principle difference between income and sales tax as a source of state revenue.
2. Explain the meaning of the acronym, ‘NIMBY,’ and provide a couple examples and/or concerns.
3. Describe why licensing represents a ‘regulatory function.’
4. Contrast the role of superintendent vs. that of school board within a school district.
5. Discuss some advantages and disadvantages associated with ballot initiatives.
USEFUL LINKS: see above...
Answering Writing Prompts: