Course Overview: American Government

This Transition Phase (grade 12) course offers a survey of the main documents, political structures, ideas, and institutions that form and shape the American government. Students engage actively with the US Constitution, landmark Supreme Court rulings, and other foundational documents that comprise the basis for informed citizenship. 

At the beginning of the course, students choose one of four thematic paths through the course based on their own interests. Whichever path they choose, students come away with a basic understanding of how government works and of the civic rights and responsibilities of informed citizens.

Journey 1: Civic Foundations

Students explore the foundations of American government and civic life, and choose a thematic path for the rest of the course. These include: 

  • Local Civic Engagement: an emphasis on community involvement
  • The Pursuit of Happiness: navigating civic life to enhance their lives
  • Being the Boss: connections between entrepreneurship and government 
  • Nine to Five: how working Americans’ lives influence and are influenced by government

Select Activities and Artifacts:

  • Drafting and presenting an amendment to the US Constitution to demonstrate that they understand the living nature of the nation’s governing document
  • Developing and outlining a doctrine of foreign policy modeled on one of several major international policies, showing their grasp of both the history of US foreign policy and the structures of international relations
  • Writing a script and recording a podcast that makes an argument about the “right” size of government in order to express their understanding of the ongoing debate about this critical issue, and to make their own well-reasoned argument

Journey 2: Outside Influences on Government

Two squares filled up with yellow and blue dots. The first square is split up into four equal squares that show an even distribution of the colored dots. The second square is split into irregular squares that groups same colored dots together.
In the second journey, students can learn about gerrymandering.

Students engage with political culture to consider how political parties, ideologies, special interest groups, average citizens, and the media influence political decisions and policies in the US.

Select Activities and Artifacts:

  • Writing a letter to their congressional representative where students argue their opinion about the issue of gerrymandering
  • Creating a Pinterest board focused on a local issue of civic concern as a way to explore methods of local organization and community activism
  • Drafting their own treaty with an imaginary foreign power in order to demonstrate their understanding of international alliances

Journey 3: What’s Your Take?

In this final part, students undertake a substantial project, such as completing an internship, as a means of participating in civil life or further developing their interest in government. 

Select Activities and Artifacts:

  • Designing and conducting a major community service project, then reporting on their process and major findings
  • Writing and presenting a report that details the student’s individual experience with their summer internship or comparable project
  • Completing an independent project of their choice that demonstrates their understanding of the major concepts explored in the course

At the conclusion of American Government, students will emerge as informed and engaged participants in US civic life, and hold an understanding of their civic responsibilities. The course allows students to discover how government impacts their lives now and how their relationship with government will figure in roles they choose for the future.

Browse more posts about curriculum here.

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