• Advance Placement Government and Politics Course Syllabus


    Mr. Walwik/Room 216

    Email: wwalwik@wsfcs.k12.nc.us

    Twitter: walwik2

    Remind.com apgo2014 (text to 336-218-6202)

    Wiki: wwalwikcivics.wikifoundry.com

    Phone: 336-727-8181



    Course Description:

    From the AP Web Site: United States Government and Politics is an intensive study of the formal and informal structures of government and the processes of the American political system, with emphasis on policy-making and implementation. This course includes both the study of general concepts used to interpret U.S. government and politics and the analysis of specific examples. It also requires familiarity with the various institutions, groups, beliefs and ideas that constitute U.S. government and politics. Students will become acquainted with the variety of theoretical perspectives and explanations for various behaviors and outcomes in government and politics. Additionally, students will be able to analyze and interpret basic data relevant to U.S Government and Politics. The concepts and specific topics examined in this course are those that may appear on the AP exam.


    ·        George C. Edwards, Government in America: People, Politics, and Policy 13thEd.

    ·        United States Constitution

    ·        Peter Woll, American Government Readings and Cases 16th  Ed.

    ·        Assortment of Supplementary Readings throughout the course to include but not limited to Journals, Political Web sites and blogs, Newspapers, Primary Sources and books.







    The following items will need to be brought to class each day

    ·        Textbook

    ·        Three-Ring Binder (for this class only)

    ·        Paper (loose leaf or spiral)

    ·        Pen/Pencil




    Student and Course Expectations:

    The work done in this course is college – level, and it is expected that all students will treat it as such. A significant amount of coursework shall be done outside the classroom walls. Students are expected to participate fully, both in class and out, and to work diligently to get the most out of the course.

    ·        Regular attendance is imperative. Being in class guarantees that you will participate in an array of activities and discussions that cannot be done otherwise.

    ·        Complete all assigned readings from the textbook and all supplemental readings as well. If you want to do well on the AP exam, it is imperative that you keep up with the reading. There is no way we can cover everything in class. You will be responsible for some information on your own. Reading quizzes will be used regularly by the instructor throughout the semester.

    ·        The multiple choice quizzes you will be given for every chapter are made up of AP style questions. Unit tests will also be given using material from current and past units. If you expect to earn a high grade in this course, you must prepare for these tests by completing all assignments and participating in class.   Each quiz and unit test will also include one or more free response questions.

    ·        If you are absent, it is your responsibility to check with me about what you missed and have to make up.  You need to make up all quizzes and tests within 1 week of the original date either before or after school or during your advisory/free period. You will have one day to make up homework, (unless it  was and extended absence which we will develop a plan to make up miss material)

    ·        Not everything in this class will be done “for a grade,” but completion of all activities/assignments is essential to being successful in this course.

    ·        Working together on class work will sometimes be allowed, but each student is responsible for doing his or her own work and copying will not be tolerated – this applies to study guides. Unless I tell you otherwise, assume all work is to be done on your own. Both parties involved in copying or cheating will be penalized with zeros on the assignment or quiz. Plagiarism is entirely unacceptable and the minimum punishment will be a zero on the offending assignment.

    ·        Textbook reading: Students will be assigned textbook chapters in conjunction with the course units of study. Often, students will be expected to complete an accompanying assignment.

    ·        Supplemental readings: In addition to the textbook, students will frequently be assigned additional readings relating to the current unit of study. Students will often be required to be prepared to discuss or apply the readings to other activities in the course


    ·        Data Analysis: Students will examine multiple forms of information including political maps, election results, and public opinion polls throughout the year both to understand current and past issues and trends in American government and politics and to predict future events / trend.

    ·        In – class discussions: It is my hope that students will participate and contribute substantially to discussion carried out in class. Fundamentals of American government and politics and their relation to important and controversial issues will be among the discussion topics.


    Aside from the course content, students will need to keep up with current events. This can be done in a variety of ways and with much of the information available online. Students can read national newspapers (New York Times, Washington Post, etc.), news magazines (Time, Newsweek, US News and World Report, The Economist, Atlantic Monthly, etc.), and watch television or radio news programs (BBC World News, News hour with Jim Lehrer, Nightline, Crossfire, C-SPAN, All Things Considered) to stay informed of current political events.


    ·        Homework will be assigned on a regular basis and will be due on the date give…No Late Work Will Be Accepted. The type of homework will vary as the course progresses however reading will be a large component and it is expected that you read all that is assigned.

    ·        Class work will comprise greatly of note taking. From time to time I will collect your notes and grade them.  Class participation will factor into your class work grade and will be determined based on the assignments or activities done throughout the year.

    ·        Projects will be assigned several times throughout the course and will range from creating a presentation for the class to reading specific material and developing an in depth written summarization.

    ·        Grading will be done on a point’s basis. Every assignment, project, quiz, test, daily notes will have a specified amount of points available, i.e. a unit test is worth 60 points, your earn 51 points…this would translate in to a percentage grade of 85.  At the end of the marking period I simply add up the points you earned and divide it by the points possible to give me your grade for the term. The letter grade at the end of the term will be consistent with WCFS Board Policy.

    ·        Types of assignments  that will be graded:

    o       Chapter quiz (40 points each)

    o       Unit test (100 points each)

    o       Note Check* (25 points)

    o       Vocab Check*  (1 point for each vocab word)

    o       In class graphic organizers* (25 points)

    o       Primary source summaries, written and/or verbal (50 points)

    o       Projects (100 points)

    o       Other class  activities* (25 points)

    * will not be graded every time



    AP Exam:

    The AP United States Government and Politics exam is given each May. The AP exam is 2 hours and 25 minutes long. It includes a 45 minute multiple choice section consisting of 60 questions and a 100 minute free-response section consisting of 4 questions.


    As this course prepares students to succeed on the AP exam and is taught with the exam as the primary focus of the course, I strongly recommend that all students take the exam. While this course focuses on issues and concepts most likely to be seen on the AP exam, this class is not a test prep course per se. In other words, while much of the in-class work and at-home assignments correspond with the exam, it is incumbent upon the student to take the work seriously and take responsibility for thorough test preparation himself or herself.


    Topics Covered in this course include:

    I. Constitutional Underpinnings of United States Government (Text chapters 1, 2, and 3) (5 – 15%)

    a. Considerations that influenced the formulation and adoption of the Constitution

    b. Separation of powers

    c. Checks and balances

    d. Federalism

    e. Theories of democratic government

    II. Political Beliefs and Behaviors (Text chapters 6, 9, and 10) (10 – 20%)

    a. Beliefs that citizens hold about their government and its leaders

    b. Processes by which citizens learn about politics

    c. The nature, sources and consequences of public opinion

    d. The ways in which citizens vote and otherwise participate in political life

    e. Factors that influence citizens to differ from one another in terms of political beliefs and behaviors

    III. Political Parties, Interest Groups, and Mass Media (Text chapters 7, 8, and 11), (10 – 20%)

    a. Political Parties and Elections

    i. Functions

    ii. Organization

    iii. Development

    iv. Effects on the political process

    v. Electoral laws and systems

    b. Interest groups, including political action committees (PACs)

    i. The range of interests represented

    ii. The activities of interest groups

    iii. The effects of interest groups on the political process

    iv. The unique characteristics and roles of PACs in the political process c. The mass media

    i. The functions and structures of the news media

    ii. The impacts of the news media on politics

    iii. The news media industry and its consequences

    IV. Institutions of National Government: The Congress, the Presidency, the Bureaucracy and the Federal

    Courts (Text chapters 12 - 16) (35 – 45%)

    a. The major formal and informal institutional arrangements of power

    b. Relationships among these four institutions and varying balances of power

    c. Linkages between institutions and the following:

    i. Public opinion and voters

    ii. Interest groups

    iii. Political parties

    iv. The media

    v. State and local government


    V. Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (Text Chapters 4 and 5) (5 – 15%)

    a. The development of civil liberties and civil rights by judicial interpretation

    b. Knowledge of substantive rights and liberties

    c. The impact of the 14thAmendment on the constitutional development of rights and liberties

    VI. Public Policy (Text chapters 17 – 20) (5 – 15%)

    a. Policy making in a federal system

    b. The formation of policy agendas

    c. The role of institutions in the enactment of policy

    d. The role of the bureaucracy and the courts in policy implementation

    e. Linkages between policy process and the following:

    i. Political institutions and federalism

    ii. Political parties

    iii. Interest groups

    iv. Public opinion

    v. Elections




    Class Rules and Policies:

    1.      Be on Time...Be on Time…Be on Time

    2.      No eating in class, having something to drink is ok

    3.      Turn in homework when you walk in the door…once it is collected it is considered late at that point and will not be accepted.

    4.      No listening to music cell phone use or texting during class unless given direction to do so, (this will be explained in class). If your cell phone goes off during class…do not answer it…I will do that for you.

    5.      Sleeping in class…no I don’t think so.

    6.      Laptops or tablets are good until I catch you on something not related to class…and I will catch you…then the privilege is revoked FOREVER.


    Office Hours:


    M-F 12:45-1:45






Last Modified on August 20, 2014