United States Government and Citizenship

Last Updated May 2008

Course Description
The goal of this course is to foster informed, responsible participation in public life. Knowing how to be a good citizen is essential to the preservation and improvement of
United States democracy. Upon completion of this course the student will understand the major ideas, protections, privileges, structures, and economic systems that affect the life of a citizen in the United States political system. This course is recommended for seniors due to their proximity to voting and draft age.

“I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion.”
Thomas Jefferson (1820)

This is a one semester course




Possible Assessments

August September

(January  February)

August September

(January  February)

Standard 1   US Constitution and Government - Students will understand the significance and impact of the Constitution on everyday life.


Objective 1
Investigate the ideas and events that significantly influenced the creation of the United States Constitution.

Objective 1

Identify and summarize the philosophies that contributed to the Constitution; e.g., Machiavelli, Locke, Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton.

Six principles – popular sovereignty, limited government, separation of powers, checks and balances, federalism, judicial review

List the events from 1756-1787 that led to the creation of the Constitution

British domination of North America

British became more involved with colonies. Increased taxes and laws imposed on the colonies

Colonists reaction to British and steps toward unity

1st  Continental an

2nd Continental Congress

Declaration of Independence

Articles of Confederation

List the basic ideas in the Declaration of Independence

Primary Sources- The Enlightenment Thinkers

         Simulation:  The Constitutional Convention

         Compare/Contrast chart:  Major Ideas of the enlightenment.

        Quiz: 

Standard 1 Objective 2

Assess the essential ideas that led to the creation of United States constitutional government.

Objective 2

§           Identify and name the major documents that contributed ideas to our Constitutional Government

§           Identify the major ideas of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and other writings; e.g., Magna Carta, English Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, Iroquois Confederation.

Objective 2

Compare the Articles of Confederation to the United States Constitution.

Interpret life, liberty and

Interpret the Preamble   

 Evaluate current events in relationship to the purposes and roles of government



Standard 1 Objective 3   Determine the importance of popular sovereignty and limited government in a democratic society

Objective 3

a)       Limited Government

                                 I.      Explain how the separation of powers is maintained through checks and balances.

                               II.      Describe how the federal system of government creates a division of power.

                              III.      Determine how judicial review makes the Constitution a living document.

b)       Popular sovereignty

                                 I.      Examine how the rule of law affects everyday life.

                               II.      Identify the necessity for civic virtue

Objective 3

Create a diagram demonstrating how the separation of powers is maintained through checks and balances.

Illustrate the division of power in our federal system.



Standard 1 Objective  Investigate the organization and functions of the United States government

Objective 4


§                       Article I

§                       Describe how the United States Congress makes laws.


§                     Executive

§                       Article II

§                       Examine the ways in which the executive branch carries out laws.

Judiciary   - Article III     Investigate how laws are interpreted by courts through an adversarial process; i.e., plaintiff, defendant.

Objective 4

Illustrate the organization of the executive branch

Who Has the Power? Grid

Pro/Con Writing:  strict versus loose constructionism



Standard 2 Objective 1 –   Rights

Students will understand the protections and privileges of individuals and groups in the United States.

Standard 2 Objective 1 –  


A)       Describe how the Bill of Rights promotes civil rights and protects diversity.

Interpret the freedoms and rights guaranteed in the United States Constitution.

 Determine the rights and liberties outlined in the Bill of Rights



Standard 2 Objective 2 - Analyze how civil rights and liberties have been changed through court decisions.

Standard 2 Objective 2


a)       Describe how the Bill of Rights promotes a just legal system.

b)       Identify landmark cases and their impact on civil rights and individual liberties; e.g., Dred Scott, Plessey, Brown, Miranda, Gideon, Bakke, etc.

c)       Classify the differing interpretations of the strict versus loose constructionists.

Standard 2   

 Name That Political Party game

Analyze judicial review based on a major supreme court case that demonstrates the constitution is a living document.

 What Rights Do You Have?  Guess the Outcome of These Court Cases

         Attend a political meeting

Simulation:  Government Systems

         The War Powers Resolution of 1974- A History of the Use of Force in America

         Current Events:  Modern Day Relations Among the World’s Nations



Standard 03 Federalism State and local governments

Students will understand the distribution of power below the national government in the state, and local governments.

Objective 1 - Determine the relationship between the national government and the states.

Standard 3 Objective 1

How do the federal and state governments form our system of government?

What are the functions of state and local governments?

Standard 3

Debate:  Should Schools Be Locally or Federally Controlled?

The Eras of Federalism

Standard 3 Objective 2 - Analyze the role of local government in the United States federal system.

Standard 3 Objective 2


a)       Describe the powers given to local governments.

b)       Identify the structure and function of local government.

c)       Explain how federal monies influence local policy and decision-making.

d)       Describe current issues affecting local governments; e.g., spending, state v. local control, land use.

e)       Examine how public education is a function of federal, state and local government




Standard 4   Citizenship  
Students will understand the responsibilities of citizens in the
United States.

Standard 4 Objective 1
Identify the responsibilities and obligations of a citizen.

Standard 4 Objective 1



The need to obey laws.

The election and voting process.

The United States tax system and the need for taxes.

The need for selective service in maintaining a military.

The major political parties and their ideas.


Standard 4 Objective 2   Investigate ways in which responsible citizens take part in civic life.

Standard 4 Objective 2  


A)     Why is there a need for civic dialogue in maintaining a democratic society; e.g., public meetings, mass meetings?

B)      Participate in activities that promote the public good; e.g., the voting process, jury duty, community service.




Standard 4 Objective 3 Assess methods for respectfully dealing with differences.

Standard 4 Objective 3


A)     Identify conditions, actions, and motivations that contribute to conflict and cooperation.

Develop an understanding of the role of civility in dealing with individual and group differences




Standard 5    Economic systems

Students will understand basic economic principles and how they influence everyday life.

Standard 5 Objective 1

Explore major economic systems.

Standard 5 Objective 2
Determine how supply and demand affects the availability of goods and services.

Standard 5 Objective 1        


a)       Explain how the scarcity and abundance of productive resources contribute to economic systems.

b)       Understand capitalism, communism, socialism, and mixed economic systems.

Standard 5 Objective 2


a)       Analyze the role that prices, incentives, and profits play in determining what is produced and distributed in a competitive market system.

b)       Determine how scarcity and choice influence governmental economic decision making.

c)       Examine how the private and public sectors contribute to an economic system.

d)       Analyze the role of specialization and exchange in the economic process.

Standard 5

Learning Centers:  Different Economic Systems

The “First World” versus the “Third World” discussion

Economics Simulation

 Debate:  What Level of Privatization Should Be Allowed?

Standard 5

Learning Centers:  Different Economic Systems

The “First World” versus the “Third World” discussion

Economics Simulation

 Debate:  What Level of Privatization Should Be Allowed?



Standard 6   Comparative Political Systems

Students will understand the relationship between the United States and the international system

Objective 1   Examine major government structures and functions outside the United States.

Standard  6   Objective 1  


a)       Explain the purpose of government and analyze how other government’s powers are acquired, used, and justified. 

b)       Compare different political systems with that of the United States; e.g., dictatorship, democracy, theocracy, monarchy, totalitarianism.

c)       Analyze and evaluate conditions, actions, and motivations that contribute to conflict and cooperation within and among nations.

Standard 6

Simulation:  A Day in the United Nations 


Standard 6 Objective 2 Evaluate how United States foreign policy affects the world.

Standard 6 Objective 2


a)        Explain the powers that the Constitution gives to the president and Congress in foreign affairs, and how these powers have been used.

b)        Describe the process by which United States foreign policy is made; e.g., federal agencies, domestic interest groups, the public, the media.

c)       Analyze the various ways that United States foreign policy is carried out; e.g., diplomatic, economic, military, humanitarian.

d)       Explain how United States domestic politics affect United States foreign policy


Standard 6 Objective 3
Explore how the
United States influences other nations, and how other nations influence the United States.

Standard 6 Objective 3


a)       Describe the impact of the United States’ concepts of democracy and individual rights on the world.

b)       Explain how developments in other nations affect United States society and life.

c)       Describe the role of the United States in international organizations.