AP UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT Course Description: Mr. Wheaton

Mr. Wheaton
Room 272
Course Description: This course lasts the entire school year and will cover U.S. Government and
Economics. This course will prepare you for the AP Government test offered in May. All ideas and ideologies
are valued in this classroom. Diversity of thought is cherished. I do not care if you follow the Tea Party or are
an avid socialist, your opinions will enrich classroom discussion. I’m concerned primarily with your thought
process and your level of thought, not your belief system. Our goal as a class is to promote a culture of
achievement that is developed through the exploration of our political identities.
Required Material: 1) three ring binder; 2) paper; 3) writing utensil; 4) 3x5 index cards
Grading Policy: Grades are figured on a cumulative point basis. Each test, quiz, homework assignment,
etc., is worth a given number of points according to the quality and level of completed work. At the end of a
marking period, a grade average is determined by dividing the total points possible by points earned. Sixty
percent of the final course grade is based on the cumulative average of homework, quizzes, current events,
essays, presentations, participation and unit tests. The remaining forty percent is your final exam. Classroom
participation will heavily influence your grade.
The grading scale is as follows: 90-100% = A
80-89% = B
70-79% = C
60-69% = D
59% and lower = F
Assessment: Unit exams are modeled on the AP Exam which means they consist of multiple choice and
free-response questions. Vocabulary tests will be given at some point during the unit. There will be pop
quizzes over the reading homework.
Assignments: Students are expected to read and take notes from the textbook and supplementary sources
that are assigned. Expect some reading every night. I suggest students make a set of flash cards for each unit’s
vocabulary words. There will be projects/activities throughout the year.
Preparing for the AP Exam: I expect you all to take and pass the AP exam in May. I will offer study
sessions before and after school in the weeks leading up to the test. You will also want to form study groups
and work on your own time.
AP Exam: The AP United States Government and Politics 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.
Late Work Policy: Late work will not be accepted.
Reading: This class uses a college level textbook and moves at a fairly quick pace. Stay on top of your
reading. Pop quizzes will be used as a check. I recommend reading a portion of the chapter we are covering
every evening. There will be additional readings assigned at various times in the semester.
Current Events: You will be required to read and summarize one article and one cartoon weekly. Be
prepared to discuss your article and cartoon with the class. Second semester we will do editorials and political
charts to help us prepare for the AP Exam.
Class Discussions: Class debates will be a major aspect of this course and class participation is heavily
weighted in your final grade. We will establish classroom norms that govern our behavior during these
activities. At a minimum we must remember that we are all entitled to our own opinion and must respect the
opinions of others. Put downs and name calling will not be tolerated.
Vocabulary: This class is heavy on vocabulary words. I recommend creating flash cards for each chapter.
Most definitions can be ascertained from your reading. However, you may need to refer to other sources to
define some words. http://quizlet.com/ is a great website.
Contact Information: The best way to contact me is through district email at jwheaton@mpsaz.org. I
will also be checking voicemail and will return phone after school from 3-3:30pm. I can be reached at 480-4729507.
Course Outline:
Constitutional Underpinnings of U.S. Government
Political Beliefs and Behaviors
Political parties, Interest Groups and Mass Media
Institutions of National Government: The Congress, the Presidency, the Bureaucracy, and
the Federal Courts
5. Public Policy
6. Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
7. Economics
Dear Parents,
I am excited to be working with your children this year. This is a college level course and the material we cover
will be difficult. As it is a United States Government class, we will be discussing various “hot button” issues.
Never will the course promote a particular view point on an issue. Simply, the students will be expected to
understand all sides of an issue as well as effectively advocate for a position. For example, we will be
examining the impact of media on politics. Students will be expected to watch Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN
at various points and for varying assignments. I want the students to be aware of how different media outlets
cover a topic. Students may experience some frustration and a lower grade than they are used to in the
beginning of the course. This is normal and most students’ grade recovers within the first couple of months.
My goal is for all of them to be successful on the AP exam next May. If you have any questions please feel free
to contact me via phone or email. jwheaton@mpsaz.org or 480-472-9507.
Joseph Wheaton, J.D.
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