Topic outline

  • Welcome to US Government!

    An enormous part of the responsibility of being an American citizen is understanding how our government works and being able to effectively participate in it, whether by keeping up with current events, voting in elections, or expressing our views in conversation with family and friends. Our coursework will give you the basic knowledge you need to take an active role in your government. Here, at our classroom webpage, you'll be able to access extra handouts, view course reminders and due dates, and find helpful resources. Please check back often! 

  • This topic

    The Legislative Branch

    Opener Prompts: 

    • Opener 26: 
      • Answer the following questions (if you do not know, make your best guess): What does the legislative branch do? What are the two houses of Congress? Which house is higher? Who is the presiding officer of that house? How does a bill become a law?

    • Opener #27: Where is the most likely place for a bill to “die?” Based on our simulation with your bills, why do you think that is? What kind of bills are more likely to be successful?
    • The Presidency

      Opener Prompts:

      • Opener #21, 11/14/13: As an American citizen, how much do you feel you have the right to know about your President? Why? Provide at least three specific examples of things you would want to know about your President.
      • Opener #22, 11/18/13: Did you find the situation in “The American President” plausible--in other words, could a President really do something like date and still maintain the integrity of his office? Why or why not?
      • Opener #23, 11/20/13: We listed several unofficial qualifications to be President yesterday. Choose the most important unofficial qualification to you (age, race, sex, experience, etc.) and explain why you believe that it is so significant. 
      • Opener #24: Do you think the Constitution leaves Presidential power open for interpretation, or does it clearly limit his power? Why? (You might cite an example from the primary source you used.)
      • Opener #25: Which executive department do you think is the most important? Please provide at least three reasons to support your answer.
    • Elections

      Opener Prompts: 

      • Opener #13, 10/8/13: Why is the right to vote mostly unique to democracy? What privileges does it afford you? What are the potential consequences?
      • Opener #14, 10/9/13: What are poll taxes and literacy tests, and why were they established? Can you think of any modern methods of suppressing voter turnout? Why would anyone want to suppress voter turnout?
      • Opener #15, 10/10/13: Record your score from the political ID test on the line on the board with a point and your initials. Keeping in mind that 0=more liberal, 20=more conservative, do your results reflect what you thought your party affiliation would be? Why or why not?
      • Opener #16, 10/15/13: Grab an article from the stool up front. Use the article to answer the following questions in your opener:

        1.) What, in your own words, is “demography?"

        2.) Why does something like race, age, or gender impact your vote? Give one example of this from the article.

        3.) What group of people would be most likely to vote, based on the text. Least likely? Use multiple demographic categories in your answer (i.e. middle class white women).

      • Opener #17, 10/17/13: As we've seen in our demographic study this week, our two major parties are often at war with one another. If you were a Washington insider, what would you do to help them work together?

      • Opener #18, 10/23/13: What tactics are used in political advertisements? Why? 
      • Opener #19, 10/30/13: Provide three reasons that candidate debates are important to elections. Be sure to explain why. Then, provide three assets that will help a candidate be successful during a debate. Explain how these assets contribute to success.
      • Opener #20, 10/31/13: What tactics did you see candidates use in yesterday’s debate? Who, objectively speaking, is more successful so far? Why?
    • The Constitution

      Opener Prompts:

      • Opener #8, 9/23/13: What are the first three words of the United States Constitution? How do they relate to our democratic government?
      • Opener #9, 9/24/13: Do you think the average American can understand the Constitution in its entirety? Why or why not? If they can’t, what makes that potentially hazardous?
      • Opener #10, 9/25/13: Name the 3 compromises we discussed yesterday and explain what they did (if you were absent, check with a friend). Then, select the one you think is most important and explain why.
      • Opener #11, 9/26/13: Name those rights in our Bill of Rights that are familiar to you (I am assuming you can think of at least two, if not more). Which is most important to you? Why? 
      • Opener #12, 9/27/13: Are there other rights that you wish would have been included in the Bill of Rights?  What are they?  Are there some rights included in the Bill of Rights that you wish would have been left out?
    • Intro & Foundational Documents

      Opener Prompts

      • Opener #1, 9/6/13: What do you think that the results of the Famous Faces activity say about your political awareness? Why is your level of awareness what it is? Do you think the results of other Americans would be similar? Why? 
      • Opener #2, 9/10/13: We are about halfway through the process of taking the citizenship exam. What do your results indicate about your political knowledge? Do you think it matters that you know these things? Why or why not?
      • Opener #3, 9/11/13: What is government? What obligations does it have?
      • Opener #4, 9/12/13: The US is popularly called a democracy. In your own words, explain what democracy means. Provide an example of how this might work.  Then, assess whether the US as it is today is truly a democracy.
      • Opener #5, 9/13/13: Obviously, a lot of our governmental ideas came from England. Name three things you have learned about England’s political history that have probably influenced American democracy. Be sure to point out how they influenced our government. 
      • Opener #6, 9/16/13: List at least 10 things that really annoy you and that you wish you could change. Put stars by those you believe you actually could change. Below your list, provide a very brief explanation of how you could change those things that you starred.
      • Opener #7, 9/17/13: Today, we’re going to learn about the Articles of Confederation, which tried to limit executive power in the new U.S. after the Revolution. What might have kept the new United States from emphasizing singular executive power? Why would they have given the states more rights than the federal government? What problems might that have caused?