Syllabus 2016-17

Mr. Colby Cormack

Social Studies – Hanover, KS: Government/Economics

Contact Information:


Course Description:

This high school government course builds upon and adds to students’ previous learning of history, government, economics, and geography to assist them in becoming truly informed, thoughtful, and engaged citizens in a democracy. Citizenship requires basic knowledge and understanding. Understanding the principles of checks and balances, the separation of powers, the organization of the three branches of government, and the complex relationship between the federal, state, and local government are all essential to being an informed citizen. While such knowledge is essential, it is not adequate to fully and effectively meet the duties and responsibilities of citizenship. The student must understand how the Constitution embodies the purposes, values, and principles of American democracy, and be able to use that understanding in fulfilling the “job” of citizen. The course will be rigorous and relevant with instruction that integrates thinking skills, historical processes, and content so that students are able to apply the learning to their own lives. Instruction will include the integration of concepts and principles from history, economics, geography, civics, and the humanities.


  • Comparative Political Systems
  • The Role of Citizen: Civic Values, Politics, and Government
  • Principles and Foundations of the U.S. Constitution
  • The Structure and Function of the Federal Government
  • Human and Civil Rights in American Democracy
  • Domestic and Foreign Policy
  • State and Local Government
  • Politics, Interest Groups, and Media


1. Choices have consequences.

2. Individuals have rights and responsibilities.

3. Societies are shaped by beliefs, idea, and diversity.

4. Societies experience continuity and change over time.

5. Relationships between people, place, idea, and environments are dynamic.

Connect with Past Learning:

Students should come to the U.S. Government course with a foundational knowledge of the story of how the United States came into being and developed a government based on the principles laid out in the Declaration of Independence. The basic structure of the government, including the three branches, separation of powers, and checks and balances should already be part of their background knowledge from previous learning of U.S. history. In world history they should have learned about the Enlightenment’s influence on both the structure and principles of the American government. Certainly the narrative of U.S. and world history, to which they have been exposed, will have introduced them to the concepts of democracy and totalitarianism, the interaction of government and the economy, and the struggle for human and civil rights that has occurred throughout history. Students should possess a general understanding of Kansas and its geography, symbols, industry, and culture, and identify with a community or region of the state. They should have basic geography skills and an awareness of the different regions of the U.S. and the world. They should have experience with the “Best Practices and Literary Expectations” of the Kansas standards and should be aware of the discipline’s ways of thinking or habits of mind.

Class Expectations/Rules:

          All students are expected to be

  1. Polite (respectful of others and the learning process);
  2. Prompt;
  3. Prepared;
  4. Proud (always do your best and don’t cheat!); and

Students are encouraged to conference with the instructor at an appropriate time to discuss any problems or concerns they may be experiencing in class. 

Warning:  Cheating on a test or most of an assignment will result in:  (1) 1st offense – A “0” on the assignment and a lower citizenship grade; (2) 2nd offense – A referral, and a 10% reduction in your academic grade; and (3) 3rd offense – An “F” in this class.

Violation of the expectations will follow a progressive discipline system starting with a redirection (except in extreme cases of disobedience/disregard). Students with minor infractions will be given a charge of $0.25 to go towards an activity for the class at the end of the day. Failure to pay after two infractions will result in a detention to take place at the teachers discretion. Students may make other arrangements with the teacher if they are unable to pay the amount charged.


  1. Text Book
  2. Paper (You will take notes in this class!!!)
  3. Pencil

Grading Policy:

Academic grades will be determined by a number of factors including: tests, classwork, homework, projects, written essays, oral presentations, participation in advisory period, etc.  Points will be earned by the students for each assignment, and grades will be as follows:  A = 89% - 100%; B = 79% - 88%; C = 69% - 78%; D = 55% - 68%; F = 54% or below.  No notes or books can be used during a test.  Your Final Exam grade affects your overall grade as follows: an “A” on the Final Exam raises your grade by 5%; a “B” raises it by 3%; a “C” keeps your grade the same; a “D” lowers your grade by 3%; and an “F” lowers your grade by 5%. 

The teacher never gives students extra or “bail out” assignments to help them pass this class or improve their grade!

  • Any late work will be automatically docked 10%. You must clearly write “Late” at the top of the assignment or in the email if you are sending it electronically. If you do not and I have to find out you will lose 20%
  • If you were absent, you must clearly write “Absent” at the top of the assignment. If you do not, and I have to find out you, will lose 10%
  • Notes will be taken through Students will share their notes with their teacher so he can check their progress as they write and offer suggestions, critiques, guidelines, etc.
  • Bell Ringers will be done through as well. Days where we do not have a bell ringer should be marked as such on the document. If you are absent you need to get the bell ringer from a classmate. If this proves impossible please see me before or after school.



HW/Late Assignments:

*****If you are absent, make sure your absence is excused within 72 hours, get lecture notes (if any) from another student (NOT the teacher!) and any missing assignments from another student (ahead of time if possible) or make arrangements with the teacher.  If your absence is not officially excused within 72 hours of the date of your absence, no credit will be given for assignments given during your absence!  Excused late work will be accepted if you write “Absent” on your paper and turn it in no later than the number of days for which your absence was excused.  Excused late work may be graded or simply “excused” at the teacher’s discretion.****

Course Outline: (All chapters and topics are subject to change at teacher’s discretion)

         Text: United States Government: Principles in Practice; by Luis Ricardo Fraga. 2010

  1. Comparative Political Systems
    1. Additional Readings
  2. The Role of Citizen: Civic Values, Politics, and Government:
    1. Chapter 1 Foundations of Government
    2. Chapter 2.1 and  2.2 Origins of American Government
  3. Principles and Foundations of the U.S. Constitution
    1. Chapter 2.3 and 2.4
    2. Chapter 4.1 and 4.2
  4. The Structure and Function of the Federal Government
    1. Chapter 3
    2. Chapter 5,
    3. Chapter 6
    4. Chapter 8
  5. Human and Civil Rights in American Democracy
    1. Chapter 2.5
    2. Chapter 10
  6. Domestic and Foreign Policy
    1. Chapter 14.1, 14.4
  7. State and Local Government
    1. Chapter 16
  8. Politics, Interest Groups, and Media
    1. Chapter 9



            Students will develop a routine throughout the semester and the year that will help them to organize their work and how they approach it. I like to keep a routine that gives students an opportunity to catch up and feel comfortable with the pace the class is going. I will, however, occasional change the routine for structural and aesthetic purposes. The real world constantly balances the consistency and change and this class will reflect the same way.


*************Syllabus Subject to Change at Instructors Discretion***********