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U.S. Government & Politics

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.

Course Syllabus

Day One

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 Two

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 Three

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 Four

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.

Please Note: The session with John Moyer is filled.

John Moyer is a teacher at Stow-Munroe Falls High School in Stow, Ohio, where he has taught since 1990.  He currently teaches AP United States Government & Politics, AP Comparative Government & Politics in addition to AP Micro & Macroeconomics.  John has been an AP Reader & Table Leader since 2005, a Workshop Consultant for the College Board and is currently employed as the District Leadership Coach with the Stow-Munroe Falls City Schools.

Course Syllabus

Participants attending the APSI at San Gabriel will experience an engaging and interactive 4 day institute.  This institute will assist participants in their own careful planning & preparation in the new curriculum framework set to begin Fall 2018.

*Participants should be advised that this consultant will be able to answer some but not all participant questions about the new framework & the relevant exam.  Participants should also know that this consultant thrives in ambiguity- and even structures his course with the “unknown” as an undergirding principle.

Day One

Introduction to Framework

  • Content Outline
    1. Big Ideas
    2. Enduring Understandings
    3. Essential Knowledge

*During this section, participants will explore the course outline.  In a descending fashion, participants will explore both what students need to know and what students need to do.  Student knowledge of concepts, processes and linkages coupled with the appropriate applications will support each of the FIVE Big Ideas.

Political Science Skills and Practices

  • Required Skills and Practices- An abbreviated sampling:
    1. Describe how institutions interact with principles, processes and beliefs;
    2. Explain connections between political behavior and institutions:
    3. Read, analyze and interpret quantitative data;
    4. Read, analyze and interpret qualitative data;
    5. Develop an argument about political principles and relevant themes.

*During this section, participants will examine how to incorporate the above skills into the 5 Big Ideas.  Upon careful examination of the new curriculum framework, it seems to me that the Political Science Skills & Practices will supplement existing content. In other words, the new framework is essentially similar to the existing framework, with a few minor exceptions.   

Day Two

*Note: For each of the 5 Big Ideas, participants will explore each of the following:  content focus, application of content, along with connections between concepts. Particular emphasis will be placed on incorporating Political Science Skills & Practices (listed above) into each of the 5 Big Ideas.

Big Idea 1: Constitutional Democracy

  • Balance between liberty & order;
  • Balance between macro & micro sovereignty;
  • Balance between majority rule & minority rights.

Big Idea 2: Civil Liberties, Civil Rights

  • Bill of Rights and its application to liberty v. order;
  • Incorporation Doctrine via due process clause;
  • Equal Protection and contemporary application.

*During this day, participants will be provided with researched based lessons that allow for the understanding and appropriate civic application to the above enduring understandings.  Additionally, participants will be given the opportunity to develop their own lessons modeled after the lessons developed, explained and distributed by the consultant.

Day Three

*Note: For each of the 5 Big Ideas, participants will explore each of the following:  content focus, application of content, along with connections between concepts.  Particular emphasis will be placed on incorporating Political Science Skills & Practices (listed above) into each of the 5 Big Ideas.

Big Idea 3: American Political Culture and Beliefs

  • Origins of citizen beliefs about government;
  • Factors that shape policy debates and their effect on public policy.

Big Idea 4: Political Participation

  • Public opinion and its impact on institutional actions;
  • Various forms of media and the implication in both public opinion and political participation;
  • Collective citizen action and how these actions affect public policy;
  • Political participation in the policy process;
  • Impact of campaign finance laws and the respective judicial interpretations.

*During this day, participants will be provided with researched based lessons that allow for the understanding and appropriate civic application to the above enduring understandings.  Additionally, participants will be given the opportunity to develop their own lessons modeled after the lessons developed, explained and distributed by the consultant.

Day Four

*Note: For each of the 5 Big Ideas, participants will explore each of the following:  content focus, application of content, along with connections between concepts.  Particular emphasis will be placed on incorporating Political Science Skills & Practices (listed above) into each of the 5 Big Ideas.

Big Idea 5: Interaction Among Branches

  • A) The structure and workings of the legislative branch demonstrate the intricacies of the republican ideal;
  • B) The Presidency and its gradual expansion of powers;
  • C) An independent Judiciary and the impact of judicial review;
  • D) The balance between implementation and adjudication of the bureaucracy.

Foundational Documents

  • AThe understanding, interpretation and application of 9 Foundational Documents;
  • 20 Supreme Court cases- examining their historical context, conflicting judicial interpretations and their application in public policy.

*During this day, participants will be provided with researched based lessons that allow for the understanding and appropriate civic application to the above enduring understandings.  Additionally, participants will be given the opportunity to develop their own lessons modeled after the lessons developed, explained and distributed by the consultant.

Additional topics to be addressed include:

  • Equity and Access in AP Courses;
  • Classroom Policies for effective instruction;
  • Balancing content & application;
  • Effective parental communication;
  • Technical Problem v Adaptive Challenge;
  • Application of Systems Theory in a professional setting.