Overview

Government at QHS is a survey of the purposes and applications - historical and contemporary - of various attempts to organize, maintain, and (sometimes) control human societies. While there will be an emphasis on the organization, establishment, evolution, and struggles in American Government, the intended outcome is to develop a broad and varied set of perspectives toward various approaches to government. This requires an examination into monarchy, democracy, socialism, communism, and the nuanced versions therein. Additionally, this course has an intended outcome of generating prepared citizens of the outgoing participants, informed and ready to bear the responsibility of being one of "We the People".

The three basic goals for this class are:
  • to become a responsible, actively involved citizen
  • to understand the basic structure of the U.S. governmental system
  • to understand the U.S. economic system (to be built upon in S2)

Textbook

For this course we will use the Magruder's American Government 2007 Edition. You all will have checked one out (this will a class field trip on the second day of school). You will be responsible for having your textbook available every day in class.

However, the textbook is available in PDF format. If you have a mobile device (iPad/Android tablet or a laptop) with solid access, you can use that instead of your hardcover textbook. I will not post these PDFs. Instead they are available as a shared folder for you in Google Docs. This way we can have continuous access to the chapter and section PDFs in one secure place without violating textbook copyright.

Classroom Expectations

Students will:
  • Value themselves.
  • Value their classmates.
  • Value the educational setting and equipment.
  • Strive to never compromise the above.
Sounds simple, but each of you are preparing to become a full-fledged member of society and engage in our civic responsibilities. This includes the various interactions we have with family, friends, colleagues, and beyond as you leave the classroom. We will talk about what these look like a few times during the year to review our expectations.

Cell Phone Policy

As the Board of Education has extended their permission for student mobile devices, classroom teachers must define what is "acceptable". My standards are as follows:
  • mobile devices are an extraordinary tool
  • mobile devices provide opportunity when leveraged correctly
  • mobile devices can cripple and disengage students when used inappropriately
  • students can and should assist in creation and enforcement of classroom policies
  • policies must be posted as expectations

Discipline

Students will be held according to the expectations above in and out of the room. Any incident where a student violates these terms, a disciplinary action will be taken based on the severity of the offense ranging from a simple conversation to actions take by the office due to a referral.

Procedures and Protocols

Daily Warm-Up

Class will begin with a required "warm-up" activity posted prior to the beginning of class for completion. This will be the activity AS THE BELL RINGS - it is not intended to be started after. This will count for a portion of the semester grade (2-5 points per day). I will keep an archive of warm-ups for students that have been absent.

Google Drive, Wikispaces, and Remind

Every assignment will be available through Google Drive and cross-posted on the class website (mrbrucesgovernment.wikispaces.com). When students access their Google Drive, they will see an item in the left panel called "Shared with me". I have shared a folder with students titled "Government". Within this folder is the entire textbook and all course documents organized by unit.

Our class website (mrbrucesgovernment.wikispaces.com) will serve as our digital link between students and teacher and class. I will post some assignments and provide course organization here through the home page. As we progress through the school year, we may venture into the class website for projects and online activities. This website is a user-based, interactive site, allowing members to participate in the creation and maintenance of pages within. More information will be provided later. This use is dependent upon student access to a computer or other web-enabled device.

Knowing teens still rely upon text messaging, I plan on using a service called Remind to send text messages on assignments and events related to the course. No one is required to use this service at all. As a way of maintaining security, this service is "one-way" (you cannot reply or send messages to me) and can only broadcast messages to the whole class or to groups of students three or more at a time. Also, I never am able to access your mobile numbers. Visit https://www.remind.com/join/qhsgovt to sign up.

Grading, Scale, and Policy

Grades are based on a point system. Students' total grade will be calculated by points earned divided by points possible based upon various projects, quizzes, assignments, papers, and tests. Each assignment is just as important as the next. Participation in class discussions is strongly recommended as this may help raise/lower a grade. Attendance, then, is a necessity. I do not assign grades, they are earned and are a direct result of efforts made.

Assessments

Students can expect to have regular tests and quizzes over regular learning. These will take a variety of formats: multiple choice, short answer, and/or essay. There will also be regular 9 week assessments. These will be multiple choice and be based on class content and skills. Additionally, the semester grade will include a Semester Exam which will be worth 20 percent of the final grade.

Late Work

An assignment is considered late if it is not submitted by the end of the class period the date on which it was due. Students will be allowed to turn in late work for no more than 75% credit up to one week after the original due date. It is the student’s responsibility to know what they have missed and discuss their missing work with the teacher. Beyond one week the assignment will be considered a 0. There will be opportunities for extra credit throughout the semester.

Hallway Passes

In accordance with the school-wide hallway pass system, each student will be allowed bathroom passes as needed. The term "needed" can have a different meaning between student and teacher. Time in class cannot be replicated. "Teacher discretion" requires that the student and the teacher come to terms on when a student may leave the classroom. Students must sign out next to the door and take the hallway pass that corresponds with their destination - students must also sign in upon return.

Major Assignments

Letter to Representative and Senator
Students will be provided an opportunity to address local issues directly to their U.S. Representative according to residency and District. Students are expected to use appropriate voice, speak persuasively, respectfully, and be succinct while covering their entire argument. Students will have a chance to practice and revise letters through an iterative process to ensure the letter sent is the absolute best representation of student ability and understanding.
Local Government in Action
Students must attend one public, governmental meeting over the course of the semester. Attending a Quincy Board of Education meeting is strongly suggested as the decisions they make have a direct impact on students and community. Students may attend a different type of meeting as long as it is run by me for approval beforehand. Examples include:
  • Village Council
  • Township or County Commissioners
  • Church Council or Board of Director
  • Town Hall Meeting (visit from Michigan Legislator or U.S. Congressman)
  • Attend a session of the MI Legislature or U.S. Congress (these would require traveling to Lansing or Washington, D.C.)
After attending the meeting students must hand in a 1-2 page report and the local government meeting worksheet. The report should be a reflective summary of the worksheet.

Regular Assignments

This course covers material that demands a variety of activities and engagement techniques. Below are some things to expect.
  • Debates
  • Guest Speakers
  • Mock Trials
  • Mock Elections
  • Role Playing
  • Creating Videos
  • Field Trips
  • Creating Posters/Signs
  • Group Projects
  • Surveys
  • Research

Extra Credit

Because this course is defined by its objective of creating an active, engaged citizen, students are encouraged (strongly) to undertake tasks and activities that promote personal growth. See Extra Credit opportunities page for details.


Mr. Bruce reserves the right to modify the above as necessary for the success of the students and benefit of the class.