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U.S. Government & Politics

Matt Furfaro

Matt Furfaro is a teacher at Concord High School in Elkhart, Indiana, where he has taught since 1996.  He currently teaches AP United States Government & Politics.  Matt has been an AP Reader for the past 5 years and is also on the AP Instructional Design Committee for the AP U.S. Government & Politics Course Redesign.

Agenda

Day 1

Introduction to the Growth Mindset

  • This will help teachers to explain to students how to embrace the challenges of an AP course.

Understanding the Course Framework

  • The framework will define the scope of the course and specifies what students must know and be able to do on the AP exam.
  • This will also include explaining how the, “Understanding by Design” methodology fits into the framework.
  • Analysis of the AP exam by comparing the level of understanding on the legacy exam vs. the redesigned exam.

Introduction to the teaching of the disciplinary practices.

  • This introduction will be reinforced throughout the skill-specific lessons later in the week.
  • Introduce teachers to the idea that the big ideas are spiraled throughout the course and should be scaffolded.
  • Examine how the disciplinary practices are incorporated into the free response questions.

Integrating the Required Documents

  • Explain how the required Supreme Court cases and required founding documents fit into the AP U.S. Government and Politics course.

Planning your Course

  • We begin planning early in the week so teachers can begin a plan that they will hopefully modify throughout the week. Initial planning will continue into day two.
Day 2

Tour of the Instructional Approaches

  • Examine scaffolding instruction and assessment to allow students to practice skills and build understanding over time.

The National Constitution Center: Interactive Constitution

  • Resources will be explored that teachers can use in their classrooms to enrich student’s constitutional literacy and thinking skills.

Reading and Analyzing the Required Documents

  • Practice how students need to be explicitly taught how to read, write and think in government and politics.

Analyzing and Interpreting Visuals

  • Political cartoons and other qualitative visual sources will be related to a political concept.

Analyzing and Comparing Supreme Court Cases

  • The AP U.S. Government and Politics exam requires students to know the constitutional question (holding) of the court and to make comparisons and drawing conclusions with other “non-required” cases.
Day 3

Analyzing Quantitative Data

  • Teachers will look at how to perform data analysis to identify patterns and trends, draw conclusions and relate the data to political concepts.

Connect and Apply Concepts

  • Comparison and analysis of concepts allow political scientist to draw conclusions and apply previous knowledge to real-world scenarios.

Writing an Argument Essay Like a Political Scientist

  • Show how to teach students to write an argument in political science through scaffolding skills.
Day 4

Valuable Classroom Simulations and Activities

  • Look at simulations with a debrief to introduce a topic and get students thinking about a concept.

The Political Science Research or Applied Civics Project

  • Explain the variety of options for the applied civics or political research project that will expected to be incorporated into the AP U.S. Government and Politics course plan. I will share with you my service learning project and Supreme Court debate project.

Curricular Requirements and Syllabus Development

  • Review the requirements to ensure that all AP U.S. Government and Politics instructors teach a college-level course.