Close Up
American Government

Course Syllabus


Mr. Krieger

Ipswich High School

2017-2018 School Year


Course Overview
In this course, we will explore the inner workings of the United States government and evaluate the role that our government has today.  Focusing on current events and issues which impact our country and community, we will consider ethical dimensions and tough moral questions.  Civic awareness is the primary focus of this course. 

The overarching goal of the course is to equip students with the knowledge and skills necessary for effective and responsible participation in the processes of a democratic society and the American political system. Issue-centered topics and opportunities for discovery are the cornerstones of Close Up American Government. Placing current public policy controversies and political debates at the center of the course, students reflect on their own political effectiveness and assess their growth as powerful democratic citizens. Students apply knowledge gained in previous courses as they draw on their studies of American history, geography and culture. A one week intensive trip to Washington, D.C. in March is the culmination of the course. The Close Up Washington D.C. trip gives students an inside look at the U.S. government in action. Using the nation’s capital as a living classroom, students have access to politicians, Senate and House of Representatives sessions, and the inner workings of government and historical attractions. The cost of the trip is paid by students who choose to participate with fundraising as an active part of the course.

President Warren G. Harding said, "Our most dangerous tendency is to expect too much of government, and at the same time do for it too little."  We will make a difference during this course and hopefully the lessons learned throughout Close Up American Government will inspire future civic action.   

Below are the units for our course:

Unit I

Unit II

Unit III

Unit IV


Intro. to Government and the U.S. Constitution

Congress, Leadership, and Issues Today

Political Parties and Elections

The Executive Branch and World Power


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Grading Policy

Your final grade for this course will be determined based on the following formula:

Coursework 85%
Classroom Contribution 15%

Assignments and overall grades will be based on a points system.  Prior to each assignment, you will know the total available points.  The grade will be based on the following calculation:    Total Points Earned ÷ Total Possible Points

Assignment Maximum Points
Homework 10
Current Events 100
Reading Quiz 15
Unit Test 100
Unit Project 100
Other Assignments1 Varies

1For other assignments, such as in-class work, research in the library, or special projects, you will be made aware of the possible points when the assignment begins. 

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Homework & Assignments
Homework is an important part of this course.  The homework is meant to enhance our work in the classroom.  Completing the homework will help you understand the subject matter and, hopefully, make it more interesting.  You will be better prepared for class discussions, other assignments, and tests or quizzes.  Likewise, you will have the opportunity to participate in many activities. These activities will range from group presentations to individual projects. I hope that the assignments will be engaging and enable you to demonstrate your expertise in the field of modern world history. Successfully completing and handing-in all of the homework and assignments will improve your grade for the course.

1. Homework/assignments are due at the beginning of class or when collected.

2. Late homework/assignments will not be accepted unless you have an excused absence.

3. You are responsible for obtaining homework/assignments if you are absent.

4. If you are identified on the attendance sheet as "absent unexcused" you may not make-up the missed work. This includes test, quizzes, projects, and homework. In-house suspension is considered an unexcused absence.

5. Homework will be evaluated using the following rubric:



10 Homework shows excellent effort and the work is fully completed
5 Homework shows acceptable effort and the work is mostly completed
0 Homework shows minimal effort or is not submitted when due

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Classroom Contribution -- Sliding Scale

Classroom contribution will be included as part of your quarterly grade.  classroom contribution will represent 15% of the quarterly grade.  

The rubric below outlines the grading criteria:



A+ (100%) Truly exceptional leadership and participation in the classroom by demonstrating an outstanding work ethic, complete focus when working independently, adds significantly to the culture of the class, and willingly goes beyond to bring material from outside the classroom into discussions and the learning environment.
A (95%) Excellent participation in class discussions, often asks thought provoking questions, willingly works with other students during classroom activities, excellent attitude, and/or shows extensive effort towards creating a positive atmosphere in the classroom.
B (85%) Substantial participation in class discussions, usually works well with other students during classroom activities, excellent attitude, and/or shows substantial effort towards creating a positive classroom atmosphere.
C (75%) Acceptable participation in class discussions, sometimes works well with other students during classroom activities, and/or meets some expectations with attitude and contribution to the classroom environment.
D (68%) Rarely or never participates in class discussions, negative attitude, and/or is disruptive in class.
F (25%) Rarely or never participates in class discussions, is disruptive in class, does not engage in group projects, and/or is not part of the "class environment."


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Attendance and classroom contribution are important aspects of the course.  Participating in class advances your knowledge of the material and enables other students to learn from you. Class sessions are also meant to supplement homework and individual research rather than replace or repeat your readings. 


In accordance with the attendance policy in the Ipswich High School 2017-2018 Student-Parent Handbook, you will not receive credit if you accumulate more than FIVE absences (excused, unexcused, or voluntary) during the course.  Refer to the Handbook for detailed information about the IHS attendance policy. If you have questions or are concerned about attendance, please see me.


An important note about field trips


Field trips are valuable components of a course curriculum. Throughout the quarter, it may be necessary for you to miss our class session(s) to attend field trips. Please note that you are responsible for notifying me AT LEAST TWO DAYS IN ADVANCE OF A FIELD TRIP if you are going to be absent. Also, if you are working on a group project you are responsible for notifying your team members that you will be absent.


If you fail to provide prior notification (AT LEAST TWO SCHOOL DAYS) of a field trip and are absent for a presentation or other assignment, you will receive a zero for the assignment or project.



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Honors Contract
Students may take Close Up American Government for honors credit by signing an Honors Contract.
Students who participate in an honors contract should:

  • participate regularly in class discussions,
  • display a high level of critical thinking during class discussions,
  • complete all assignments with an excellent level of quality written and oral work,
  • demonstrate the ability to work independently and as a member of team, and,
  • collaborate with other students to produce work that exceeds expectations.

If you are interested in taking the course for honors credit, please note the following deadline:  Honors Contracts Due by the start of class on Tuesday, February 6.

Once you sign and submit the Honors Contract, you may not drop the Honors Contract.

Students who do not submit an honors contract by the due date will not be eligible to take the course for honors credit.  The due date is posted on the Assignments/Topic page.