Civics notes and course description

According to the dictionary definition, Civics is “the study of the rights and duties of citizenship”

We will begin Civics class with a pretest which will cover the map of the United States. It is important to know the location of different states throughout our country as we study local, state and federal government. It is also important to know the location of states as citizens of the United States.

We will also be studying current events which will require our knowledge of the states.Our class will review the location of the seven continents and four oceans of our world to help us better understand world events as well.There are a number of good web sites which allow you to not only study the map of United States, but also to print the map.

In the school year 2016-2017, we will be discussing a number of topics. As Civics is associated with our life in the United States as well as our place in a global society, we will study and research differing topics which are important during our changing times.  We will incorporate new topics as we go through the year, and of course the presidential election.

Civics (10 points), Mr. Wade, Course Description


In the school year 2016-2017, we will be discussing a number of topics. As Civics is associated with our life in the United States as well as our place in a global society, we will study and research differing topics which are important during our changing times.  We will incorporate new topics and possibly eliminate topics as we go through the year.  Below are the main points we will be covering.


Principles of government:

-government and “The State”

-Forms of Government

-Basic Concepts of Democracy


– 14th amendment.

-How does one become a citizen?

-How does one lose citizenship, is it possible?

The Electoral College (Very important with November election upcoming)

-12th amendment.

-What is the electoral college?

-How does a candidate get “electoral votes.”?

-Flaws of the electoral college.

-Supporters of the electoral college

Origins of American Government:

-Our Political Beginnings

-the Coming of Independence

-the Critical Period

-Creating the Constitution

-Ratifying the Constitution

Voters and Voter Behavior:

the Right to Vote

-Voter Qualifications

The Electoral Process:

-the nominating process

-elections (presidential election, November 2016)

Three Levels of Government-Local, State, Federal

Legislative Branch of each level:

-the House of Representatives

-the Senate

Executive Branch of each level:

-President’s job description

-Presidential succession

Judicial Branch of each level:

-three levels of courts


Course Requirements:

written homework most nights, reading other nights, 35% of grade (see handout for specifics)

-quizzes and tests as needed, 35% of grade

-research paper and oral presentation due second marking period

-book reports, first and second marking periods

– in-class group projects, part of homework grade, will be noted in power school

-class participation, 30% of grade (see handout for specifics)


Resources Used:

-text: American government


-guest speakers

-periodicals including the Internet

-class trips

September 11, 2001

What do we know?

-It was a terrorist attack.

-3,000 people  died

-There was a total of 4 plane crashes.

-The third plane crashed into the Pentagon.

-The fourth plane crashed into

a field in Pennsylvania

after passengers tried to apprehend the hijackers.

-The attack was conducted by terrorists from Al Queda.

-The figurehead of Al Queda was Osama Bin Ladin.

-Osama was killed by the U.S. Special Forces.

-The U.S. asks Afghanistan Government to give up Bin Ladin and Al Queda.

-The U.S. attacks Afghan. After refusal.

-The U.S. still fights terrorism to this day.


American government text, Chapter I Section 1: Government and the State

Introduction:   This lesson focuses on the goals of the Federal Government

Activities- Student Participation And Objectives       1. Students name three basic kinds of power that a government exercises; 2. discuss the difference between a government and a state; 3. list the main purposes of the American system of government.

  1. Government and the state
  2. government – The institution through which a society makes and enforces it’s public policies.
  3. Public policies – All of the things a gov. decides to do, i.e. taxation, defense, education, crime control, environment, etc. p. 4
  4. Must have power! – ability to achieve a desired end – must be able to prevent or command/demand action;
  5. Three basic types of power, set by the Constitution (body of fundamental setting up principles, structures, and processes of a gov;
  6. legislative – power to make law and public policy
  7. executive – power to enforce and administer law
  8. judicial – power to determine meaning of laws and settle disputes/arguments within society


  1. You will define dictatorship:
  2. Democracy:
  3. List important facts from remaining 5 paragraphs on p. 5
  4. The state – Body of people living in defined territory, organized politically with the power to make and enforce law.
  5. Population – must have people!
  6. Territory – must have land!
  7. Sovereignty – supreme and absolute power within it’s own territory; responsible for itself, not a colony;
  8. Gov. – already defined – see p. 6 & 7 and outline I. A
  9. Origins of the state – From where did the idea of “state” come? 4 main theories. Make sure you are able to explain each of these theories
  10. The Force Theory –


  1. The Evolutionary Theory


  1. The Divine Right Theory –


  1. The Social Contract –


  1. Purpose of gov. -These come directly from the preamble to the United States Constitution. Using your text, or chrome book, research and paraphrase the meaning of each of the six purposes
  2. – form a more perfect union
  3. Establish justice
  4. Insure domestic tranquility –
  5. Provide for the common defense –
  6. Promote general Welfare –
  7. Secure the liberty

Review: public policies, 3 kinds of power, dictatorship, democracy, the state, territory, sovereign, government, theories, 6 purposes of gov.

We will be studying democracy and its attributes using Chapter 1, section 1, in Magruders American government. A PowerPoint outline may be found on the  the Internet by looking up Magruders American government

Electoral College Lesson


Objective: 1) Students will be able to name which states have the most electoral votes 2) Students will analyze whether or not the electoral College is a “fair or unfair” method of choosing our president 3) students will be able to write a comprehensive essay explaining the function of the Electoral College.


Materials: student handout, students text, classroom computer


Anticipatory Set: question to students: Who received the most popular votes in the election of 2000? One student, using classroom computer, will assist in researching election totals. Depending upon answers, teacher will explain that Al Gore received approximately 500,000 more votes than George Bush. Question to students: why did George Bush win?


Students will outline in groups of two, both their text and a handout on Electoral College.


Electoral College- History/Purpose

-founding fathers (writers of the Constitution) did not trust the populace (people)

  • thus, use indirect democracy

-geography, too difficult for candidates to travel around to each state; candidate from highly populated area could win without the rest of the country ever seeing him/her

  • needing electoral votes, candidate must visit other states


Electoral College Facts

-the number of electors each state has depends upon the number of members the state has in Congress–Remember; there are two parts to Congress! What are the two parts? How many senators represent each state?

-each state has two senators

-number of representatives depends on population of state-Question to class: If Connecticut has 7 electors, how many representatives do we have in the House of Reps.? Which states have the most electors?

-the District of Columbia also gets 3 electors

-there are a total of 538 electoral votes cast

-Question to class why 538?

-How many electoral votes does a candidate need to win and be president?








Electoral College Timeline during Election Year

-political parties (traditionally Democrats and Republicans) choose their candidates (person to represent their party) at summer convention

-summer convention takes place before the November of a presidential election year

-Question to class: How often does this take place?

-Democratic candidate and Republican candidate choose electors (people loyal to their political party) from each state to represent them in each state



Example: Connecticut has 7 electors who will cast their ballots

before the election in November Connecticut will technically have 14 electors if there is a  Republican and a Democrat running for president in Connecticut. Question to class: why 14?

-Question to class: what if Connecticut has a Democrat, a Republican and an independent candidate running for president?




-the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November of every four years there is a presidential election

-the Wednesday after a presidential election votes will hopefully be counted in each state and the winner of each state will be announced

-which ever candidate (Republican, Democrat, or Independent) wins the majority of the popular vote in a state, wins that state

-when a candidate “wins a state”, that means their electors get to vote, and the others do not

-going back to the example, in the 2008 election, the Democrat won the popular vote in Connecticut and therefore his electors were the only ones casting a ballot. The Republican electors did not get to vote because their candidate did not get a majority of the votes in the State of Connecticut.


-in December the winning electors will go to the capital of their state and cast their ballots

-the electoral votes are sealed in an envelope and sent to the president of the Senate (in Washington DC)

-in January, when Congress (Washington DC) comes back from vacation, the envelope is opened and the votes are counted in front of both houses of Congress. Question to class: what are the two houses of Congress?



Review: History, facts, timeline, examples;

Homework: Students will make believe they are running for president and devise a strategy as to how they will win the office;

Chapter I Section 2

Introduction – The lesson focuses on the different types of governments.

  1. Forms of gov. – Like people, no 2 govs are exactly alike, why?

Classifying govs.

  1. who can participate in the process – number of persons who take part in the process
  2. democracy – People hold supreme political authority and the gov. is run only by and with the agreement of the people; p. 12;
  3. direct democracy (pure democracy) – the will of the people becomes law; straight from the people;;
  4. representative democracy – a small grp are chosen by the people to carry out the will of the people (kept in check by elections and attentive citizens);
  5. dictatorship – those who rule Are NOT responsible to the will of the people
  6. autocracy – one person has unlimited political power
  7. oligarchy – power to rule held by small grp of people who usually appointed themselves!; give students terms on bd: unitary, federal, confederate, presidential, parliamentary, dictatorship, democracy;B. Geographic distribution of gov. power within the state – every system of gov. has power to govern in 1 or more places geographically; 3 basic forms read p. 14 & 15, grp activity. S work in grps of 2

    1. unitary -centralized-all powers held by the gov. belong to a single central agency. Usually central gov. creates local units of gov. for it’s own convenience (Central gov. could get rid of local units).

    2. federal – powers of gov. are divided between central gov, and several local govs. This division of power CANNOT be changed by the local or national level acting alone. (Our Constitution sets this up).

    3. Confederate – An alliance (: What is an alliance?) of independent states. The central organization with confederate only handles issues member states ASSIGN to it.

    C. Relationship between legislative and executive branches – govs. often classified by relationship between leg. and exec; 2 forms

    1. presidential – legislative and executive branches separate but equal; President and legislature chosen by the people at different times for different terms; checks and balances What does this mean?

    2. parliamentary – executive made up of prime minister or premier and the official’s cabinet which come from the legislative branch (parliament); Legi slature or parliament choses the executive. read p. 16; research-which countries have parliamentarian gov, and who are the prime ministers of each? Use internet; determine which regions have democracies present and if there are any visible patterns of government shown. They offer historical and geographical reasons for these patterns.

    Review: classifying; who participates, democracy, dictatorship, geographic distribution-unitary, federal, confederate; relationship between-presidential and parliamentary;

9 Responses to Civics notes and course description

  1. TimothySmith says:

    Received the notes!

  2. Bob Bobert says:

    Mr. Wade’s class is swag. 😄

  3. jesus ramos says:


  4. Shemar says:

    Your awesome

  5. Elijah Fraser says:

    I love this website thank you Mr. Wade

  6. Izaiha Mellow-Valle says:

    Hey Mr.Wade It’s your favorite student : )

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