9th Grade Civics

Course Syllabus/Cover Sheet

Mr. Klagge


     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!


     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:

  1. Be on time (tardies will eat your daily work and participation grade). --   the cottage is no excuse-- it's only 20-some yards...
  2. Be prepared-- you will be required to have a notebook for this class.  The notebook will house “Cornell” notes and daily questions.  Those things will explained and practiced as we go.  The notebook may be collected and checked sometime during the semester.
  3. Don’t talk when someone else has the floor—it’s rude!!
  4. Be reasonable and use common sense-- a) we will not tolerate any degrading comments regarding a person’s race, gender, religion, or political views.  b) Limit use of the bathroom (you can have a couple “emergency trips” per semester—don’t abuse the privilege).  c) And, no food or drink (except water) in class—thank you (we need to keep this carpet beautiful).
  5. No cellphones/smartphones, or headphones— keep them in your backpack!  ...(unless we are using them in class).
  6. The "CHAMPS" spindle will guide expectations for different types of classroom activity.


**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
  1. Government, Citizenship and Immigration
  2. The Founding of a Nation
  3. Parties, Elections and Campaigns
  4. Congress and Public Policy               --------------------------------------------
  5. The Presidency and the Executive Branch
  6. The Courts, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
  7. State and Local Government 


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

Bloom's taxonomy:

- evaluation-to-creativity

- synthesis ('bring together')


- application


- remembering/knowledge

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?










Civics Essentials: What Everyone Should Know... and Review:
It all starts with the CONSTITUTION, 'the supreme law of the land...'
federalism[national v                                                            state]
-- the CONSTITUTION sets up the blueprint, the framework for gov't, the three branches, federalism and the ideas of representative and limited gov't.
  ** 'the Framers' were influenced by the              (the social contract/natural law                        writings of Locke, Rousseau, and Montesquieu -                 'government should benefit'...)                  Enlightenment thinkers/writers...

  * It enshrines democracy-- the first three words say it all, "We the People."

...there have been 27 Amendments (changes, updates, alterations), the first 10 came immediately and were called the 'Bill of Rights.'
   i.e. - 1st Amendment = freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly and petition
                                       -- the famed 'March on Washington' in August, 1963 is an example,
                                                 so is 'separation of church and state' (the Establishment Clause).
              2nd Amendment = right to bear arms
                 4th through 8th Amendments = protect citizens, the accused and provide due process
                     10th Amendment = power reserved to (the people) the States
  Federalists (pro-Constitution) v Anti-Federalists (states' rightists; feared central power/tyranny) * under the Articles of Confederation (pre-Constitution) states were sovereign (answered only to themselves)
                   ... and the arrangement proved weak (see a poor economy, tariff wars and Shay's Rebellion)
   The first three Articles of the Constitution set up the THREE BRANCHES OF GOV'T: the Legislative (Congress), the Executive (the President and the executive branch), and the Judicial (the Supreme and other federal courts).  The Supreme Court is the 'highest court in the land.'
      judicial review (the power to strike down laws as 'unconstitutional') was not mentioned in the Constitution and was established with the Marbury v Madison (1803) decision.
            -- there are nine justices on the Supreme Court and there is no appeal... the buck stops there.
   The Legislative branch 'makes the law,' the executive branch 'carries out' the law, while the judicial 'interprets the law.'  
   **A system of 'checks and balances' prevents one branch from becoming too powerful...
   Congress is made up of the House of Representatives (number of state membership determined by the population of that state: i.e. - CA = 53, WY = 1) and the Senate (equal membership, each state gets 2).
  the President serves a 4-year term and is limited to two terms.
the Speaker of the House is three in line for the presidency...
The President signs bills into law (or can veto them), he/she is Commander-in-Chief of the military (powerful position), and appoints Supreme Court justices (a lifetime position...); he/she also oversees the federal bureaucracy and crafts foreign policy, serving as 'chief diplomat.'
               One must be 18 years-old to vote (26th Amendment - passed during Vietnam Era...).
Thomas Jefferson (historian Ken Burns' 'Man of the Millennium') wrote the Declaration of Independence-- "all men are created equal, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."  -- it was adopted July 4, 1776 (actually the 2nd...) and has been called 'pure Locke.' [social contract-- gov't should benefit...]
  key principles -- ** consent of the governed and natural rights (liberty; things gov't can't take away...)
  * another part of the Declaration of Independence contains grievances against the King (the 'justification of rebellion' in the Lockean sense).
 -- Lincoln famously said ours is 'the government of the people, by the people, and for the people' in his Gettysburg Address.
Great Compromise (at Constitutional Convention) = two chambered Congress, solving the representation debate (one equal, one based on population)...
the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, passed after the Civil War, ended slavery, sought equal protection/equal justice, and allowed African Americans/blacks to vote... 'Jim Crow' interfered.
-- over time, Federal power grows at the expense of states: the Elastic Clause (Congress can do what's 'necessary and proper') and the Commerce Clause (Congress can 'regulate interstate commerce') allowed for that...
   -- Brown v Board of Education (1954), which ended school segregation, helped spark the Civil Rights Era...

Tentative Lesson Plans:
* Independence, help, and fairness?  (for you? from gov't)?website/syllabus, notecards, Political Quiz (discuss)...
* How did Monday work for you-- enough structure/too much?  Explain. Will this class benefit you, have value-- why or why not?  government v anarchy (how much is necessary?); liberty and the Social Contract-- striking a balance (looking at superquiz questions)... to-reading of the Declaration of Independence (video)
* How would you define the words maturity and character?  List two key components of each.  Reading: Madison and Civic Virtue; Cornell Notes/Bloom's taxonomy-- KBAT prep; again, why any of this matters ($$/priority, balance/a 'workable' consensus, etc)...; Read Chapter I (w/ eye on civic duties)/listening exercise (current events)-- demographic trends (Census)
* Excellence and habit...Aristotle quote; Read a review of "The Book Thief..."; Types of Gov't (examples, etc- w/ maps and terms); government gone bad, global hot spots (field trip, etc)... notes/review for quiz-- 'be able to' themes...
* Citizenship Quiz-to-Immigration - readings/questions/history; video clip... Ellis Island; who/what is an American? (homework)
*OPTIC-- immigration, liberty v security; notes II; review (model test prep) and answering test questions...
Test I: Gov't, Citizenship, Immigration; reading-- "What the Founders Intended"
* Reflections on a Friday (rules, disputes, compromise); Q: 'how should [men] live?'; 'Forging a Nation' (video glance); reading/terms-- KBAT
* Reflections on a Friday Afternoon; Debates... (reading about the Founders); political roots (scorecard)--cartoon assignment--; the Revolution (an English perspective); computer lab or ipads for research...
* process exam; Franklin's virtues, Washington's courage/creativity, Jefferson's intelligence and industry; A of C v C; federalism; political roots (scorecard); the Constitution and the Bill of Rights ("power grab"/scavenger hunt); Bill of Rights and fault lines that exist for the Courts
* "Power Grab"; First Amendment (look at case studies); 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th, 9th (privacy), and 10th (assign/find case studies...
* Federalism - Elastic and Commerce Clauses and the growth of government; fiscal federalism ($$$)
Test II
*test II discussion; eight topics (cartoon/interview question)
* parties v interest groups-- 'Journeys w/ George'
* political socialization, public opinion, and the media-- debt ceiling, poll graphing, LDC paper-- thesis development, chapters 10 and 11
* election law and turnout; demographics and trends-- KBAT work (at tables...); debt ceiling debate, cont..., politics in the books/movies (trailers, reviews, etc)
* campaigns and campaigning-- strategies, differences, MONEY; SNL glimpses-- fun!;KBAT/test walk through... (readiness!)
Test III: Parties, Elections, and Campaigns; reading-- "One Nation Subsidized"
* peer review papers; discuss the 'political spectrum' and partisan ideology
* Parties and elections, the electoral process (strategies, law, etc), turnout (or lack thereof...)
* Parties v interest groups, polling and public opinion, 'the campaign' (video clip - 'running for president')
* Congress (why so unpopular?); lab day -- policy w/ classroom questions
* Congress (House v Senate), video clip, lawmaking (explain simulation); bill assignment
* 'State of the Union'; working day... paper outline; Dirksen Center/IU's Center on Congress
* video clip (lobbyists); Committee Day: school, local, state, national (-to-letter...)
* In Session; vote on 'best' law; review
Quiz V: Congress and Public Policy; reading-- "Presidential Greatness"
* video kickoff-- from PBS's The American President-- exploring the notion of 'Presidential Greatness'
* "a place of splendid misery"; the many 'hats' of the president; Mount Rushmore v ...demands of the job (and aging that appears in photos); public opinion and impact on power: 'honeymoon' v 'lame duck'
* power, the Constitution, and growth of 'the Imperial' presidency
* foreign policy
* the federal bureaucracy and budget
* fiscal policy and economic calculus
* Quiz IV: "USS Kagan Prepares to Set Sail"
* the Judicial system & Street Law-- highlighting ideals in a day "Cliff Notes" :)
* revisiting LRE-- ...the essentials.
* demographics and budgetary/recidivism debates surrounding prison
* education and earning potential, life/longevity enhancers-- the pursuit of 'generativity'
* Justices Breyer and Scalia on the Courts - understanding appellate court and oral argument; video/audio clip(s) - the sound of oral argument 
* Marbury v Madison and the creation of 'judicial review'; Landmark Cases (the gist, plug importance); looking at resources/links...
* The Top Twenty... (class rankings); lifetime appointment and function/politics
* Civil Rights v Civil Liberties-- understanding the differences w/ artistic glances... (photos, etc)
Quiz VI: The Courts, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties; " (**BACKWARDS DESIGN analysis)
* reading 'local government' and initiatives/successes... (guest speaker?? - K. Solt)
* State Government - the budget and essentials
* Local Government - graphs and numbers (math ties, etc)
* State and Local Government Quiz (VIII)-- done through collaberation... 
* "I Have a Dream Speach" to kickoff the Social Movements and Social Change; a checklist of sorts (scale and scope differences - local, national, global); paper assignment - "The Interview"
* the methodology spectrum Gandhi (civil disobedience)-to-bin Laden (9/11 and terrorism)... 
* working with a DBQ (document-based question); protest music (PBS special, today??)

* Review (notecard preparation)
* Final Exam!

Semester KBATs (Know and Be Able To...)--

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

Census                                Anarchy


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                          Pardon

Presidential Succession (22A)       Imperial Presidency                  Honeymoon
Lame Duck                                  Veto                                        Bully Pulpit

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: