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 2017-2018, 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 2017-2018, 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 (Optional, depending on student interest with last year’s presidential election)

-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, what happened?)

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 (Optional), weekly Wednesday Journal writing (Not optional)

– in-class group projects and classwork, 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 (chrome books and teachers laptop)

-class trips (Hopefully, depending on expense)

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 laws 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


  1. The state – Body of people living in defined territory, organized politically with the power to make and enforce law.
  2. Population – must have people!
  3. Territory – must have land!
  4. Sovereignty – supreme and absolute power within it’s own territory; responsible for itself, not a colony;
  5. Gov. – already defined – see p. 6 & 7 and outline I. A


  1. Origins of the state – From where did the idea of “state” come? 4 main theories.


  1. The Force Theory –
  2. The Evolutionary Theory
  3. The Divine Right Theory –
  4. The Social Contract –


  1. Purpose of gov. –
  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.








Important News Stories

  • Saudi Arabia allows women to drive
  • Puerto Rico needs massive assistance
  • Trump draws red line on taxes
  • No vote on repeal of ACA
  • NFL players kneel, sit down and link arms during national anthem


American citizenship:

  1.  Identify the questions surrounding American citizenship.
  2.  Describe how people become American citizens by birth and by naturalization.
  3.  Explain how an American can lose his or her citizenship.
  4.  Compare and contrast the status of undocumented aliens and legal immigrants.

“Turn and Talk”, students will discuss whether they have belonged to a club or team that let anyone join and examine how the United States let almost all immigrants into the country for more than 100 years


This lesson focuses on how American citizenship and naturalization is determined as well as the history and problems of immigration


  1. Citizenship

The 14th Amendment -Students define

  1. 1868 Civil War is over, 14th amendment passed (


  1.  A person can become an American citizen either by birth, or by naturalization
  2.  90% of Americans are citizens because they were born in the USA, another several million are citizens because:


  1. Jus soli-the law of the soil; where one is born.

Congress has defined the United States to include, for purposes of citizenship, the 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana and the Islands. It also includes American embassies and American public vessels abroad.  (Use  Internet to research)

  1. Jus sanguinis- law of the blood, to whom one is born-a child born abroad can become an American citizen at birth if he or she is born to a parent who is a US citizen and has lived in the USA at some time.

Aliens-citizens or nationals from a foreign country who live

in the United States

  1. Naturalization-people may become citizens at some time after birth through this legal process
  2.  Be at least 18 years old
  3.  Have entered the country legally lived in the United States for at least five years, certain states for at least three months
  4.  File a petition for naturalization through federal court
  5.  Be literate in the English language
  6.  Be of “good moral character”, attached to the principles of the Constitution, and “well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States”
  7.  Have a “knowledge and an understanding of the fundamentals of the history, and the principles and form of government, of the United States”
  8.  Take an oath or affirmation



  1. Expatriation -Americans can choose to give up or voluntarily abandon their citizenship (


  1. Denaturalization – Naturalized citizens who gained citizenship through fraud or deception may lose it through court ordered process
  2. Deportation -a legal process in which aliens are required to leave the United States Chapter I Section 2Introduction – 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);
    1. dictatorship – those who rule Are NOT responsible to the will of the people
    2. autocracy – one person has unlimited political power
    3. 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;
    4. 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
    5. 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).
    6. 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).
    1. Confederate – An alliance of independent states. The central organization with confederate only handles issues member states ASSIGN to it.
    2. Relationship between legislative and executive branches – govs. often classified by relationship between legislative and executive (2 forms)
    3. presidential – legislative and executive branches separate but equal; President and legislature chosen by the people at different times for different terms; checks and balances
    4. parliamentary – executive made up of prime minister or premier and the official’s cabinet which comes from the legislative branch (parliament); Legislature or parliament chooses the executive.


    research-which countries have parliamentarian gov, and who are the prime ministers of each?

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


    There are 3 levels of government, A. local B. state C. federal


    • Who works with the mayor in order for him to complete his job duties?
    • How many members make up the Bridgeport city council and who are they?
    • Research and find information about Bridgeport’s city court system (Judicial Branch)

    Civics, 10th grade, Magnet


    Objective: Students will be able to explain the three levels of government.  2) Students will be able to explain the executive, the judicial and legislative branch in each level of government


    Anticipatory set: What is the difference between Senator Blumenthal & Senator Ed Gomes?
    The three levels of government are: Local, State and Federal



    The three branches of government are: Executive, Legislative and Judicial (Q to S: Which branch is the most powerful?)




    Executive:  Mayor
    Legislative: City Council

    Judicial: circuit Judges

    State: (using Internet go to state government web site, discuss)

    Executive:  Governor

    Legislative: State Senators  & Representatives (State Legislators)

    Judicial:  District Court of Appeals, Appellate Court and Connecticut Supreme Court


    Federal: (using Internet go to federal government web site, discuss)

    Executive:  President

    Legislative:  US Senators and US Representatives (Congress)
    Judicial: Supreme Court




    Homework: 1.  Research newspapers, Internet or other media and find articles about local level activity 2.  Research newspapers, Internet or other media and find articles about state level

    1. Research newspapers Internet or other media and find articles about federal level of government
    2. Which level of government, according to what you have read, seems to have the most effect on your daily life?


    Review: local, state, and federal government, three branches at each, executive = Mayor, Governor, president; legislative = City Council, legislature, Congress; judicial = City courts, state Supreme Court, federal Supreme Court


    EXTRA CREDIT: research the Supreme Court and why there are 9 members. Also, research Franklin Roosevelt and the Supreme Court. Must be typed and footnoted.

    **Charts showing the Local and State levels are down below under the name Adolfo. Click on the link next to his name Electoral College is next. 



    Objectives: 1) Students will be able to state the number of electoral votes needed to win the presidency 2) Students will be able to write a comprehensive essay explaining the function of the Electoral College 3) Students will create a winning strategy for a presidential campaign


    Materials: student handout and student text


    Anticipatory Set: question to students: Who received the most popular votes in the election of 2000, 2016? Student, using classroom computer will research election of 2000 & 2016 and display to class. Depending upon answers, teacher will explain that Al Gore received approximately 500,000 more votes than George Bush did.  Question to students: why did George Bush win ? Clinton had 3 million more votes than Trump, why is she not president?


    Students will outline in groups of two, both their text (365-367), AG 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 2016 election, the Democrat won the popular vote in Connecticut and therefore her 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.

  3. -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?


    Chapter I Section 3:
    “Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more
    than half the people are right more than half of the
    time.” E. B. White.
    Introduction: This lesson focuses on the basic
    concepts of democracy and free enterprise (We
    need to understand compromise as we are
    introduced to the Constitution)
    I. Basic concepts of democracy
    A. Foundations-democracy will continue in this
    country as long as the people support it. 5 important
    features: (slideshow)

    1. Worth of the individual-every individual is

    important, unique, should be respected

    2. Equality of All Persons-as in “Worth”,
    individuals should be treated equally. Democratic
    concept states two primary issues: equality of

    opportunity and equality before the law

    3. Majority rule, minority rights – theory is
    that majority of the people will be right more often
    than they are wrong. Democratic process searches
    for SATISFACTORY solutions tp public problems. P.

    4. Necessity of compromise-let us go to your
    text, American government

    2. government and free enterprise system
    a. mixed economy – private enterprise

    works with a large amount of gov. regs and

    i. gov. regs. – i.e. pure food, anti-

    pollution, building codes

    ii. Promotion – grant for

    transportation (buses, trains), research-stem cell
    b. fine line between free enterprisre and

    gov. participation;

    3. Democracy and the internet – Where do

    you draw the line regarding freedom?


Review: foundations, worth, equality, majority rule,
compromise, free enterprise, supply and demand, mixed
Chapter 2 Section 1: Our Political Beginnings T to S: Why
does it matter?
Objectives: students will be able to:
1. Identify the three basic concepts of government that
influenced government in the English colonies,
2. Explain the significance of the following landmark English
documents: the Magna Carta, the Petition of Right, the
English Bill of Rights.
3. Describe the three types of colonies that the English
established in North America.
Anticipatory set: Students name basic human rights and
freedoms and explain where they learned them.
Introduction: This lesson focuses on the political ideas and
concepts English settlers brought to the colonies.
I. Our political beginnings
A. Basic concepts of gov. – political systems came with
early colonizers to US T to S: where did they get this
knowledge? S will get in grps. and fill in following 3

1. Ordered gov.
2. limited gov.
3. Representative gov.
B. important English documents (S to library, wking
in grps of 2, search net for facts, back to class to
present-use chalkboard)!

1. Magna Carta – 1215 AD – the Great Charter,
included basic rights, i.e. trial by jury, due process, protection
for life, liberty, property; States that monarchy did not have
absolute power; T&S discuss p. 29 & 30

2. The Petition of Right -1628, limits King’s
power; challenges idea of the “Divine Right of Kings.” T to S:
What is the Divine Right of Kings? Even a king must obey
the law! See p. 30, parag. 4;

3. English Bill of Rights – 1689; You, using p. 30,
will list important parts. T to S to prepare for standardized
tests: S will read “Primary sources” passage from Eng.
Bill of R….and answer the following Q: What was

Parliament’s primary concern in writing the English Bill of
Rights? A. To limit the power of the monarchy B. To keep
the king from making things up C. To transfer all power
from the monarchy to Parliament D. To make petitioning
C. The English colonies – 13 different locations set up
at different times for different reasons; each had their own
charter – written grant of authority from the king;
developed into 3 different types of colonies; T to S: Working
in grps. will name and describe the 3 types

1. Royal colonies –
a. the crown had direct control over them;
king named a governor as chief executive. A council was
also named to advise gov. A 2 house (bicameral) legis. Was
elected by property owners who were qualified to vote,
(eventually leads to revolution, Why?)
2. Proprietary colonies –

a. organized by a person who the
king granted land. b. Proprietor
appointed governor.
c. Legis. Unicameral;

3. Charter colonies –
a. based on charters or grants given to the

colonists themselves.

b. governors elected by white male

property owners

c. bicameral legis.

Review: Basic concepts of gov., ordered limited
representative; important English documents-Magna Carta,
Petition of Right, Eng. Bill of Rights; Eng. Colonies-royal,
charter, proprietary;
Homework: 1. Sec 1 assessment, key terms, main
ideas 1-4; 2.critical thinking 5 & 6; 3. Homework or inclass
activity-p. 33 closeup Magna Carta; 4. Students write
magazine articles about Magna Carta, addressing
importance of document in English and American


16 Responses to Civics notes and course description

  1. TimothySmith says:

    Received the notes!

  2. Bob Bobert says:

    Mr. Wade’s class is swag. XD

  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 : )

  7. Pablo Ato says:

    Hi, Mr. Wade How are you. Im Pablo and I hope you received my message that I sent u in gmail

  8. Damon Sher wood says:

    the best class i have ever been in sophomore year !!!

  9. Damon Sherwood says:

    hi mr wade

  10. Michelle Pilgoste says:

    Good reading for students
    Magruder’s American Government 2003

  11. Naj updated notes today April 26, 2018 🙂

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