Advanced Placement United States Government & Politics

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Advanced Placement

United States Government & Politics

Instructor: Philip Hernon, M.Ed

Longmont High School
Course Overview/Description

This course explores the political theory and everyday practice that direct the daily operation of our government and shape our public policies. The expressed purpose of this course is to prepare students for college entry and to take the AP Exam for U.S Government and Politics. The course is taught on a college level and it requires a substantial amount of reading and preparation for every class. The objectives of this course go beyond a basic analysis of how our government

“works.” Students will develop a critical understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the American political system, as well as their rights and responsibilities as citizens.
Course Readings

The texts for this course:

O’Connor, K., Sabato, L., and Yanus, A. American Government: Roots and Reform. Upper Saddle River, Il.; Pearson, 2011.
Woll, Peter, ed. American Government: Readings and Cases. 15th ed. New York: Pearson Longman, 2004.

*These readings will be supplemented with classroom handouts throughout the semester.

**All Course Notes will also be posted on the Longmont AP Gov Facebook page
Teaching Strategies

The course is evenly divided between lecture, interactive Socratic seminar, library/computer based research and experiential learning labs. Students are responsible for keeping up with events in the news. Each class begins with a discussion of current events (public policy, international relations, etc.). The current events provide concrete connections for each lesson.

Grading and Course Requirements

Grades are figured on a cumulative point basis, and weighted according to the quality and level of completion of the work. At the end of a marking period, a cumulative grade average is determined by adding the total points of the percentage category so that the grade equals one hundred percent, and is comparative to the points possible for the course.

Assignments Including…

Seminar Discussion

Miscellaneous Homework

In-class worksheets

Current Event Summation sheets

Essays / Position Papers


Group Presentation Individual “bills”

Legal Briefs



Post Assessments including…

Analytical free-response questions

Quizzes including…



Current Event


Total Percentage


Students Responsibility in Grading:

  • IF a student completes an assignment and turns it in on-time, the student will be eligible for a one-time revision of that assignment for full credit. The student will have one (1) week to complete corrections or contest answers given. After one (1) week the assignment will not be eligible for revision and the student accepts the “as is” grade.

  • IF an assignment is turned in with less than 75% complete, students will receive full credit but will not be eligible for revisions.

  • IF an assignment is turning in late, it is subject 50% reduction in grade. The assignment is not eligible for revisions.

  • All other issues must be discussed with the instructor prior the due date.

  • Students absent on the day of class debates, excused or unexcused, will forfeit the points for the debate unless prearranged.

Current Events: Students are responsible for keeping up with the daily events in the nation and the world. Students will need to skim the front page of the Denver or Washington Post or Washington Times, listen to NPR or another radio news program, watch a TV news station such as CNN, 9News, Fox News, or access a reliable online source.
Plagiarism: Students are expected to give credit to any sources cited in any assignment utilizing correct MLA format only. Students who do not correctly cite their sources may lose up to 50% of the total assignment grade. If a student is found to have copied an assignment, either in part or in full, they will forfeit all credit for that assignment. If a student is found to have plagiarized two or more assignments, they will be removed from the course.
General Classroom Behavior: Students are expected to be seating in class on time and ready for class to begin. Unexcused tardiness will result in loss of participation credit for the day and possible recommendation of removal from the course if tardies are in excess of five (5) tardies per semester. If a student presents an unexcused tardy on the day of a quiz, they will assume zero (0) credit for that quiz.
Cellular Phones and Personal Devices: This course is an upper level elective course, therefore students will be treated as they would at any university. Students may use personal musical devices only with the expressed permission of the instructor during individual reading activities. Cellular phones will not be permitted in the classroom during class time. If a student feels it necessary to use their cellular telephone during class time, they will be asked to leave the classroom for the day and forfeit all participation and in-class assignment credit for the day.
Learning Techniques and Media: A variety of media techniques will be used, including visual arts and pictures, period music, and various video media. Please be advised that some of the images presented will include nudity. These images were specifically chosen for their academic promotion and will not be used to prurient interests. In addition to various documentary series, segments of the following films may be used throughout this class.
West Wing Seasons 2 & 3 Speechless Wag the Dog (Clips) Twelve Angry Men

Thank You for Smoking (clips) Primary Colors (Clips) Dave Runaway Jury

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington Distinguished Gentleman John Adams The Ides of March

The American President My Fellow Americans YouTube/TED Video Segments

I assure you that each of these film segments was chosen with your students’ age and needs in mind. If you have any questions regarding the historical or cultural relevance of these films, please contact me.

Classroom Rules, Materials and Expectations

Required Materials

All students will have a text book checked out to them for use at both home and in the classroom. As this class will have a variety of handouts and assignments students will need a good organization system to maintain accurate materials for study. The following materials are recommended to for this course.
____ Minimum 1or1½” 3-Ring Binder Specifically

____ 8 Partitions (One of each unit studied, vocabulary and miscellaneous)

____ Color pencils (suggest Crayola for durability)

____ Color Pencil sharpener

____ One box #2 pencils

____ Daily writing utensils are required. One will not be provided if lost or not available.


Communication is essential for success of this class. Parents and guardians are always welcome to volunteer and/or observe in the classroom. Parents, guardians and students can also contact me before school, during lunch, and after school. Special meeting times can also be arranged by appointment during 2nd and 7th. I can be reached at:

Email: Phone: (303) 776-6014

Facebook: (

Advanced Placement

United States Government & Politics

Instructor: Philip Hernon, M.Ed

Longmont High School

Confirmation of Syllabus Acceptance

By my signatures below, I, the parent/guardian of said student, have read, understand and agree with the policies, practices and expectations outlined in this syllabus.


Student Name, (last name, first name) Printed

___________________________________ __________________________________________

Student Signature Date Parent/Guardian Signature Date
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