1 Curriculum Newtown Public Schools Newtown, Connecticut Adopted by the Board of Education June 2009
2 NEWTOWN SUCCESS-ORIENTED SCHOOL MODEL Quality education is possible if we all agree on a common purpose as we work together to continuously improve the teaching and learning process. We believe that ALL CHILDREN CAN AND WILL LEARN WELL. The system strives to establish high standards for our students, faculty, and staff through the curriculum documents. Mastery of this curriculum depends on the effort and persistence of the learner, the support of the parents, and the knowledge, skills and persistence of the staff. In order for our students to reach the goals of cognitive achievement, students must learn how to use the process skills of decision-making, problem solving, and critical thinking. Students need to take responsibility for their learning by becoming self-directed, active participants in the educational process. We must continuously work to improve the learning environment and the curriculum. To improve, we must analyze what we believe, what we know, and what we want before we take action to reach these goals. It is the responsibility of the staff of the Newtown Public Schools to provide all children with the opportunity to learn well. We believe that the students and staff will be more productive when basic human needs are met. These needs include: Belonging, the need for positive relationships; Competence, the need to be successful; Freedom, the need to have control over decisions; Fun, the need to enjoy life; and Survival, the need for shelter, food and good health. Living and working with others enriches the experiences of students. Positive self-esteem brings productivity and personal satisfaction to students and to staff. This esteem can be nurtured through opportunities to self-evaluate constructively and see performance improve as a result of work.
3 Newtown High School Mission and Learning Expectations Newtown High School is committed to building a community that pursues rigorous academic goals and personal responsibility. We also encourage dignity, civility, and tolerance. At Newtown High School, students and teachers work together so that all members of the school community can reach the highest possible level of individual potential. In our partnership of students, teachers, parents, and community members, we work to promote success in a challenging environment and to cultivate competent, contributing, and productive citizens. Graduates of Newtown High School will: Academic Expectations Demonstrate strategies to identify, locate, and interpret information Relate and apply new knowledge using a variety of resources including technology Take and support a position on information and ideas Convey information and ideas in a given written format Use inquiry strategies and apply appropriate procedures to solve and communicate an authentic problem or situation Convey information and ideas to others in a presentation using spoken language, non-verbal language and multi-media Civic Expectations Develop opinions on a variety of issues Exhibit involvement in the classroom, school, and larger community through speech and action Social Expectations Value personal integrity, respect for others, and appreciation for diversity Share responsibility with others to address and resolve issues
4 AMERICAN GOVERNMENT & POLITICS FOCUS ON THE MISSION STATEMENT FOCUS GOALS: IN AMERICAN GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS DURING SENIOR YEAR STUDENTS WILL: Academic Expectations Demonstrate strategies to identify, locate, and interpret information Relate and apply new knowledge using a variety of resources including technology Take and support a position on information and ideas Convey information and ideas in a given written format Use inquiry strategies and apply appropriate procedures to solve and communicate an authentic problem or situation Convey information and ideas to others in a presentation using spoken language, non-verbal language and multi-media Civic Expectations Develop opinions on a variety of issues Exhibit involvement in the classroom, school, and larger community through speech and action Social Expectations Value personal integrity, respect for others, and appreciation for diversity Share responsibility with others to address and resolve issues OPPORTUNITIES TO MEET THE STANDARDS AS SCORED BY THE ANALYTICAL RUBRICS: In American Government students will be provided the opportunity to meet the Graduation Standards for Spoken and Written communication through a variety of assessments throughout the course.
5 Unit I: Citizenship Lens: Rights and responsibilities Strands: Political science and government Timeline: 1 Week American Government and Politics Generalizations: 1. Many people throughout the world want to participate in and gain citizenship to the United States. What freedoms are given to Americans? What are the requirements/process for gaining citizenship? What are the benefits to citizenship? How many people per year attempt to gain citizenship? Why do people risk their lives to live somewhere else? How have governments aided and/or hindered people s movements between nations? Topics: freedom, citizenship, and rights civil, human, and political 2. With freedom comes responsibility. What are the responsibilities of citizenship? Why do applicants for citizenship need to speak English and have knowledge of American government? Should people speak the language of the receiving country? Is freedom free? Topics: responsibility Provocative Questions: 1. Should all United States citizens and those who choose to come here learn English? 2. Is freedom really free? Skills: Students will be able to: Independently develop a position and support it with content based evidence, and Identify and evaluate different perspectives about citizenship. Suggested Learning Experiences: 1. After a whole class brainstorm about rights granted to citizens, students will break up into small groups and based on the assigned category given to their group they will identify the rights that fit into that group. Since many rights can be classified in many ways students will have to be able to justify their classification. 2. Students will complete a T-Chart that examines the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. 3. Using a discussion rubric to track student participation, students will respond to the question: Why do people from other countries go to such great lengths to come to America and become a citizen? What do they gain? What might they lose? 4. Students will either participate in discussion or write essays based on the following questions: Is voting a right or a responsibility? Should free-riders be taxed for not participating in the political process since they are a cost to the community? Explain the meaning behind the saying Democracy is not a spectator sport.
6 Suggested Assessments: Students will conduct an interview with an immigrant to the United States discussing his/her reasons for coming to this country and their ideas about the rights and responsibilities that come along with making the choice to come to America. This interview will be written up and graded based on the Written Communication Graduation Standard Rubric. Students will participate in a promoting civic education campaign. They will design a program to increase civic education in schools and boost the sense of civic responsibility.
7 Unit II: Foundations of Government Conceptual Lens: Origins Strands: History, economics, political science and government Timeline: 3-4 Weeks Generalizations: 1. Political, social, economic, and cultural differences determine the amount of freedom found in a society. What forms of government exist? What political, social, economic, and cultural factors affect freedom in a society? How do these factors affect the freedom people in the society have? Does the word democracy equate freedom and equality? Does the concept of democracy embrace individualism? If so, are all individuals equal and free in a democracy? Topics: democracy, freedom, government forms 2. A society s beliefs and principles guide developing governments. Why did America decide to break free from England? How did they go about deciding upon a new form of government? What are the five basic principles upon which the United States Constitution is based? How does the Constitution provide for limits on government? How do principles guide the creation of constitutions? Topics: popular sovereignty, limited government, separation of powers, checks and balances, federalism, and constitutions 3. Cooperation, compromise, and solid relations strengthen government in a federalist system. What responsibilities belong to the state government? The federal government? How does each promote cooperation among the states? How does the Constitution ensure the people s authority over government? How does federalism allow for political and economic diversity among states? Topics: extradition, full faith and credit clause, and privileges and immunities clause 4. Government systems reflect the purposes and ideals, laid down by the leaders, in constitutions and other political documents. What did the Founding Fathers believe governments should do? Which ideals did the Founding Fathers include in the Constitution? From where did those ideals come? How does the language of the Preamble reflect the idea of the social contract? How does democracy demand a social contract? Topics: social contract, political philosophers, historical political documents Provocative Questions: 1. Are any peoples truly free? 2. Would there have been revolutionary change if King George had given a little to the colonists?
8 Skills: Students will be able to: Identify and evaluate different perspectives/points of view; Read critically in order to recognize the difference between fact and opinion; Analyze primary sources to draw conclusions, and Use critical thinking skills to recognize bias, point of view and context of historical events. Suggested Learning Experiences: 1. Students will participate in a debate that addresses the resolved statement: Freedom within a nation is strongly affected equally by political, social, economic, and cultural influences. 2. Students will analyze primary and secondary sources to understand the philosophical influences on the Founding Fathers, and assess the importance of those influences as they are reflected in the Constitution. 3. Students will read critically a section of The American Political Tradition by Richard Hofstadter and discuss this question: If the Founding Fathers were alive today, what advice might they have for our government? Suggested Assessments: 1. Each student will be assigned a nation to investigate. They will research the political, social, economic and cultural make up of the nation and decide to what extent the nation s people are truly free. This will be graded based on their research through the Information Literacy Graduation Standard Rubric and it will be presented to class and graded through the Spoken Communication Graduation Standard Rubric.
9 Unit III: Political Beliefs and Behaviors Lens: Beliefs/values, interactions Strands: History, political science and government Timeline: 1 Week Generalizations: 1. Political parties ensure the two-party system of electoral politics. What is the 2-party system? What are the other systems that exist and work? How are political parties involved in electoral politics? How would life change without a two-party system? Topics: Party systems, Republicans, Democrats, minor parties, electoral politics/system 2. Minor parties, within the federal election process, can change elections dramatically. What roles do minor parties play in electoral politics? What are some of the minor parties and their issues that can affect the outcome of elections? How do minor parties and their issues impact elections? Topics: different current minor parties 3. The American electorate struggles to establish and maintain a political identity. What is ideological consensus? What are the ideologies behind the Democratic Party? The Republican Party? How does the electorate develop its political identity? How do political parties divide nations? What is the impact of that divide? Topics: ideology, psychological factors, sociological factors, and the electorate Provocative Questions: 1. Are governments responsive to the people? 2. Is the electorate qualified to make political choices about the leaders of the nation? Skills: Students will be able to: Identify and evaluate different perspectives/points of view; Detect bias in visual and/or print materials; Critique alternative interpretations of social studies issues and assess the credibility of different sources; Analyze primary sources to draw conclusions, and Draw and defend independent conclusions regarding current events based on analysis and research.
10 Suggested Learning Experiences: 1. Students will analyze Federalist # 10 and assess the founders intent for the creation of political parties. 2. Students will investigate a political party and assess its relevance to the people it serves. They will also examine the role of political parties in the electoral process. 3. Students will analyze the political spectrum and complete political ideological surveys to identify their preliminary political identification. Assessments: Based upon research and class discussion students will write a letter to discussing the political process. They can either write why they believe the electorate is or is not qualified to make political choices about the leaders of the United States, or whether or not they believe the government is responsive to the people and what changes they believe need to be made.
11 Unit IV: The Legislative Branch Conceptual Lens: Balance, Interactions Strands: History, political science and government Timeline: 4 Weeks Generalizations: 1. The system and the people are balanced by the history and organization of the government. By what authority do people gain office in Congress? How is Congress organized and led? Who can participate in Congress? In what ways does the organization of Congress bring it balance? How are the powers of Congress checked or limited by other branches? Topics: Constitution, Article I, Senate, House of Representatives, qualifications, term limits, membership, leadership, sessions, terms, committees, reapportionment, continuous body, bicameral 2. Governments are run effectively, efficiently and fairly when power is shared among the stakeholders. What is the scope of state government power in lawmaking? How do the federal and state governments share power? Topics: Make-up of state government, grants-in-aid 3. Many, varied outside forces strongly influence law-making bodies of government. By what authority are state and federal laws created? How are state and federal laws created? What influences and pressures are place on the lawmakers? How do federal grants influence state laws and policies? In what ways do lawmakers reconcile the outside forces in order to create necessary laws? Topics: Law-making, voting options, constituents, agencies, filibuster Provocative Questions: 1. Without the outside influences would lawmaking be fast and simple? 2. How is Congress a well-balanced law-making machine that runs the country? 3. In what ways does federalism make government effective, efficient, and fair? Skills: The students will be able to: Analyze primary sources to draw conclusions; Use the Internet to access and assess information; Assess the credibility of information, and use that information to present ideas in spoken and written formats, and Think critically about a current issue and speak to persuade an audience.
12 Suggested Learning Experiences: 1. Students will research current bills before Congress to investigate issues of interest to them. They will use the bills as models for their own bills when they begin Mock Congress. 2. Students will choose a topic of interest to them. They will research the topic, form an opinion about what their lawmakers should be doing about it, and they will write a letter to the appropriate lawmaker to request action on the topic. Assessments: 1. Students will participate in a Mock Congress. Through this activitiy students will research a topic of choice, write a bill, and prepare a speech to be given to Congress. This activity is an opportunity for students to meet Graduation Standards for Spoken Communication. If students discuss it with the teacher ahead of time they may also use this activity to meet Information Literacy and/or Written Communication. 2. Students will create a children s book in which they will explain, to the level of their choosing, the workings of congressional government in the United States. The book will be completed with words and illustrations that are appropriate to the level the student has chosen. American Government and Politics
13 Unit V: The Executive Branch Conceptual Lens: Power, perspectives Strands: History, political science and government Timeline: 4 Weeks Generalizations: 1. Strong constitutions can impact the roles, responsibilities and powers of a chief executive. Who is the chief executive of the state? The United States? What qualifications are listed in the constitutions as necessary to become Governor? President? How do the constitutions set up the roles and responsibilities of the Governor? President? What are the roles (constitutional and assumed) that the president plays? How does the Constitution impact the roles, responsibilities and powers of the President? Topics: Connecticut State Constitution, The Constitution of the United States of America, qualifications, roles, responsibilities 2. Leadership and the use of one s power impacts democracy. What powers does the President have? Who checks Presidential power? How does the President struggle for power with Congress? In what ways do political parties, the Executive Office of the President, and the Cabinet influence the President and impact democracy? Topics: Powers of the President, checks and balances, power struggle 3. The bureaucracy, iron triangles, civil service, independent agencies and commissions all influence the government and how it runs. What are Iron Triangles? What is the Civil Service? What is the bureaucracy? What are independent agencies and commissions? In what ways to these groups affect the running of the government? To what degree does the President have control over these groups? Topics: Outside influences on the Powers of the President 4. The process of nominating and electing a chief executive impacts the quality of the candidate selected. How do people become candidates for political office? How does the electoral process impact the quality of candidates? American Government and Politics
14 Topics: Electoral College, nomination, primaries, conventions, caucus, political parties 5. Power ebbs and flows depending on who holds it and the public perception of it. In what ways has power formally increased and/or changed since the Constitution was written? Why are changes in government necessary over time? How do people s perceptions of presidents change based on history? Provocative Questions: 1. Should the major political parties make a special effort to recruit and nominate a woman or minority candidate for executive office? 2. Can a woman run the United States of America? 3. Who controls the power of the Executive Office? Skills: The students will be able to: Independently develop a position and support it with content based evidence; Identify and evaluate different perspectives; Critique alternative interpretations of historical issues so as to weigh the credibility/reliability of different sources, and Analyze primary sources to draw conclusions. Suggested Learning Experiences: 1. Students will take on the persona of a Presidential/Gubernatorial candidate and apply for the job of Chief Executive through writing a resume and cover letter. Students must research their candidate fully and persuade the party to accept them as a candidate. They must take on the persona and sell themselves in a well-crafted resume and cover letter. Suggested Assessments: The students will research past presidents and their legacy. They will investigate how that President conducted himself in the job and how well the people received him. Students will evaluate the President in selected areas and issue the President a grade for his performance in the job. This will be graded based on the Information Literacy Graduation Standard rubric.
15 Unit VI: The Function and Workings of the Judicial Branch Conceptual Lens: Beliefs and values Strands: History, political science and government Timeline: 4 Weeks Generalizations: 1. The level and degree of a criminal or civil offense determines jurisdiction in the court system. What is a dual court system? How are criminal and civil offenses different? What is jurisdiction? Which courts have which jurisdiction? Topics: jurisdiction original, appellate, exclusive, and concurrent, dual court system, criminal law, civil law, Supreme Court 2. Federal judges should be free from political influences. Who are federal judges? What kind of political influence exists? Topics: judicial activism, judicial restraint, incorporation, and judicial review 3. Laws and government actions can be challenged and changed. How are government actions challenged? Who are the Supreme Court justices? 4. Supreme Court decisions impact American life. What historical decisions have impacted American life? In what ways have these decisions impacted American life? Topics: Historic court cases 5. The court system balances the rights of the individual with the rights of all. How do we identify individual rights? How does the court system operate to balance these rights? Are individual rights ever more important than the rights of the whole? Topics: Bill of Rights, individual rights 6. The court system demands due process if it is to establish justice. What is due process? How does due process fit into the court system? What is justice? Topics: due process, court system, justice 7. The Bill of Rights and the court system protect the liberties and freedoms of the people. What liberties and freedoms do the people have? In what ways do we see these liberties and freedoms protected? Why does the court interpret the Bill of Rights? Topics: judicial review, liberties and freedoms, Bill of Rights
16 Provocative Questions: 1. How would the impact of the Supreme Court decisions be different at different historical times? 2. How can Supreme Court Justices avoid allowing politics to influence their decisions? 3. Do all people deserve the rights they are given in the United States? Skills: Students will be able to: Identify and evaluate different perspectives/points of view; Critique alternative interpretations of history issues so as to weigh the credibility/reliability of different sources; Distinguish relevant from irrelevant information; Read critically in order to recognize the difference between fact and opinion; Analyzing primary sources to draw conclusion, and Draw and defend independent conclusions regarding historical events based on an analysis of different resources. Suggested Learning Experiences: 1. Students will conduct an in-depth review of historical, precedent-setting, Supreme Court cases and analyze the facts, the findings, and the reasons behind the judgments. Assess the impact of these cases on students today. Include this information in a discussion of Provocative Question #1. 2. A speaker from the Jury Outreach Program will be invited to discuss the court system and how it operates to establish justice. This presentation includes how jurors are selected for duty and the responsibilities of those who become jurors. 3. Students will identify and assess the rights which are protected by the First Amendment versus those that would not be protected and examine why in each case. 4. Students will conduct debates, whole class or mini-debates, on a range of controversial court cases and/or decisions. Suggested Assessments: Students will conduct and evaluate research about a historic court case. They will write the case up in brief format and present their case to their peers in small group discussions. Students will offer their opinions about why cases went as they did and what they thought of the ruling based on the evidence presented and their understanding of the Constitution.
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