AP U.S. Government and Politics
On-Line for the 2020-2021 School Year
Teacher: Mr. Michael Munson
AP® United States Government and Politics
Instructor: Michael Munson
Academic year 2020-2021
Now accepting Applications for the 2020-21 School Year.
AP U.S. Government and Politics Course Description
AP U.S. Government and Politics is a college-level full-year course that prepares students for success on the AP Exam in May, 2021and to provide students with the political knowledge and reasoning processes to participate meaningfully and thoughtfully in the processes that shape American politics and society. It is important to note that this course is a political science course that studies the interconnectedness of the different parts of the American political system and the behaviors and attitudes that shape this system and are byproducts of this system. The AP U.S. Government and Politics course frames the acquisition of political knowledge around enduring understandings and big ideas regarding American government and politics. Through the development of political knowledge, disciplinary practices, and reasoning processes, by the end of the course, students will be able to analyze current and historical political events as political scientists do.
Course Content and Big Ideas
The course content consists of the essential political knowledge that will be synthesized in the construction of enduring understandings and big ideas about American government and politics. The big ideas that connect the content in the course units include:
- Constitutionalism (CON)
- Liberty and Order (LOR)
- Civic Participation in a Representative Democracy (PRD)
- Competing Policy-Making Interests (PMI)
- Methods of Political Analysis (MPA)
The reasoning processes are the thought processes that will facilitate connection-making and analysis in the pursuit of effectively executing the disciplinary practices in the course. In other words, the reasoning processes form the cognitive bridge between the course content/big ideas and the disciplinary practices. The reasoning processes in this course include:
- Definition/Classification: Demonstrating knowledge of course concepts
- Explain - Process: Explaining political processes
- Explain - Causation: Explaining causes and effects of political principles, institutions, processes, and behaviors
- Explain - Comparison: Explaining similarities and differences among political principles, institutions, processes, and behaviors
The disciplinary practices are the tasks students will apply to the course content using the reasoning processes. Becoming proficient in these disciplinary practices gives students the tools to analyze political information regardless of the format, and develop a factually accurate, thoughtful, and well-reasoned argument or opinion about an issue related to American government and politics. The disciplinary practices in this course include:
- Practice 1: Apply political concepts and processes to scenarios in context
- Practice 2: Apply Supreme Court decisions
- Practice 3: Analyze and interpret quantitative data represented in tables, charts, graphs, maps, and infographics
- Practice 4: Read, analyze, and interpret foundational documents and other text-based and visual sources
- Practice 5: Develop an argument in essay format
AP Exam questions fuse course content, reasoning processes, and disciplinary practices. Class assignments will focus on the acquisition of course content and the application of course content to disciplinary practices using reasoning skills.
Who should take this course? Academically motivated 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students who are interested in learning more about the functioning of American government, democracy, and the political processes that influence government actions and public policies. Students should be willing to accept a weekly workload of 10-12 hours that will include reading, assignments, quizzes, essays, periodic collaboration with classmates on various projects, and participation in online class discussion threads.
Course Text and Additional Resources
Required Text: The Challenge of Democracy: American Government in Global Politics 14th Edition by Kenneth Janda , Jeffrey M. Berry , Jerry Goldman , Deborah Deborah , Paul Manna
*AP United States Government and Politics reading skills lessons – This resource contains all of the required Supreme Court cases and foundational documents, along with close reading and discussion questions and activities. Provided by Mr. Munson in digital form
*Oyez – This online database provides succinct and accessible overviews for all Supreme Court cases.
*The National Constitution Center’s Interactive Constitution – This online resource is an annotated U.S.Constitution that includes essays from multiple perspectives that frame the debates underlying key clauses and provisions of the U.S. Constitution. The National Constitution Center also has a blog that applies constitutional principles to current events.AP U.S. Government and politics Tuition Options:
- computer with high-speed internet access
- a Google account for email and document sharing
- document scanning ability so that you can submit written work via email or Remind text (using a smartphone or digital camera to take a picture and email or text works fine)
- Remind (a free text communication app for schools, parents, and teachers) that will allow you to text me with questions, comments, and some assignment submissions.
- APClassroom (you will receive an enrollment number and instructions early in the course)
- Zoom video from https://zoom.us (for the live sessions--you only need the free version)
The Course begins Thursday August 27, 2020 and ends on Wednesday May 5, 2021 with a live session to discuss the AP Exam.
*August 27 & 28 are optional live video sessions to introduce AP Euro, Zoom video, and the Schoology class site. You can attend either day, or if you’re already familiar with these, you can watch a video I post on Schoology a few days before the live sessions.
AP U.S. Government and Politics Exam: Friday, May 3, 8:00 AM
Breaks during the school year:
Thanksgiving Break Saturday, Nov. 21 - Sunday, Nov. 30
Winter Break from Saturday, Dec. 19 - Sunday, Jan. 3
Spring Break Friday, April 2 - Sunday, April 12
Early enrollment rate: $600.00 for those who register before midnight July 1, 2020
Regular enrollment rate: $650.00 for those who register after midnight July 1, 2020
This course is limited to 40 students
This course will generally be asynchronous with assignments and assessments posted and completed on Schoology. By mid August the Schoology class site will have a course calendar with all textbook reading assignments, unit exam dates, and vacation breaks for the entire 20-21 school year. Students are expected to complete reading assignments by the day they are assigned and are allowed to read ahead and work on the associated assignments. At the start of each unit of study, the unit learning objectives will be posted on Schoology and shared via email. All assignments for each unit will be posted the day the unit begins. All assignments within each unit are to be completed and submitted by midnight the day before the unit exam. Students who
Live Video Sessions via Zoom: Each week there will be optional live meeting sessions for check-ins and discussion for students who feel the need. Time and day of these meetings will be determined by consensus during the first week of class. It is possible that there will be more than one weekly meeting time to accommodate time conflicts that may arise. If that’s the case, students will be able to choose a live session that best fits their schedule. At various times throughout the year there will be required live sessions. As with the optional meetings, time and day will be determined by consensus and I will try to keep this number at 4 or fewer.
Course and Unit Structure in brief:
This course follows the College Board’s Course and Exam Description of AP U.S. Government and Politics consists of 5 specific units shown below.
Unit 1: Founders’ Intent (4 weeks) Textbook Chapters 1-2-3-4
Students will evaluate the purpose and function of government in regard to the role of government in creating or protecting liberty, and to learn foundational concepts such as state, nation, politics, and sovereignty. Students will examine alternative ideas of democracy and the social and political conditions that support the development of democracy. Students will gain an understanding of the events and philosophical principles behind the U.S. Constitution. The unit will have students examine the economic, political, and social realities of the period during which the Constitution was framed and consider how these realities shaped important constitutional principles including limited government, judicial review, popular sovereignty, federalism, checks and balances, separations of powers, limited government and popular sovereignty. Students will develop a practical appreciation for the characteristics of contemporary federalism.
Unit 2: U.S. Elections (7 weeks) Textbook Chapters 5-6-7-8-9-10
Elections are the closest link between the citizens and government because people demonstrate their values through voting. In this unit students learn about party politics and public opinion, as well as the influence of media, interest groups, and social movements on voter participation. Students will also examine how legal and practical protections, barriers and demographics influence political participation.
Unit 3: Supreme Court of the United States (6 weeks) Textbook Chapters 14-15-16
The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) unit will have students understand the workings of the judicial process, the function and powers of the federal judiciary, and the relationship of the judiciary to the other branches of government. Students will understand the development and significance of the federal judiciary and its role in the American political system. Through the study of the Bill of Rights, the 14th and other amendments, and landmark Supreme Court cases, students will prepare for the civil rights and civil liberties portions of the AP Exam.
Unit 4: Congress and the Presidency (4 weeks) Textbook Chapter 11
In this unit students will come to understand the functions, organization, and powers of Congress as well as the workings of the legislative process, including comparison to those of a legislature in a parliamentary system of government. Students will consider how the role, organization, and function of Congress, including how the relationship between Congress and the president, have changed with events in American history. Students will understand domestic and foreign policy and policymaking in the federal system, the role of various government and non-governmental institutions on the formulation of the public policy agenda and public policy, the role of the bureaucracy and the courts interpreting and implementing public policy, and the means by which linkage institutions communicate public policy and provide feedback to policymakers.
Unit 5: Government in Action (6 weeks) Textbook Chapters 12-17-18
In unit 5, students will learn the functions, organization, powers, and workings of the executive branch and its bureaucracy, including comparison to those of a prime minister and supporting ministries in a parliamentary system. Students will evaluate the various roles of the president and the connection between those roles, public expectations, and the influence of public opinion (polling data) on presidential “success.” Students will consider how the relationship of the president to the other branches of government has changed, including in response to events in American history. Students also will examine the growth of the federal bureaucracy and chart significant aspects of the major departments and agencies and their responsibilities over time. Students will understand the roles of the specific elements of government, including the bureaucracy, and formulation of the federal budget.
Unit outlines with a list of learning objectives, assignments, and videos will be posted on schoology at the start of each unit. All student work including reading assignments are directly related to the AP learning objectives for this course and will appear in the student Schoology class space and on the course calendar. There will also be non-graded reading guides for each chapter to help students identify and understand important details and themes as they progress through textbook reading assignments.
Student progression through each unit will involve following the sequence of assignments and quizzes indicated by number and textbook sections.
Unit exams will consist of two parts. Part I is a multiple choice section. Part II is a free-response section involving between 1 and 4 questions requiring a written response.
Instructor Qualifications: I have taught multiple Advanced Placement courses since 1992. My syllabi are AP Audit approved by the College Board in AP European History, AP World History, AP United States History, AP Psychology, and AP United States Government and Politics. Since 2014 I have taught a rotating schedule of these courses online from my home in Pennsylvania. Over the years my AP students have performed remarkably well as indicated by a collective mean score of 4.07 on AP exams. I am a licensed 7-12 Social Studies teacher in Pennsylvania with BA degrees in history and secondary education-social studies from Bemidji State University and have accumulated over 70 graduate credits in teaching history and psychology. Outside of teaching I spend joyful time with my wife, our four daughters, and two granddaughters. I've spent much time traveling throughout the United States and Europe where I've taken groups students on trips through EF tours to Great Britain, Germany, Italy, the Czech Republic, and Ireland.
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