American Studies Pacing Calendar 2014-2015

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Essential Questions

  1. What are the key differences in membership of the House and Senate?

  2. Why did the framers include the Necessary and Proper Clause in the Constitution?

  3. How does a bill become a law?

  4. In what ways does Congress oversee the activities of the executive branch?

  5. Would our founding fathers believe our government has overstepped its bounds?
  6. How do the people in the legislative branch and the process they use to create laws, meet the needs of the people?

Suggested Resources and Literacy Connection

District Social Studies Power Point Website
Power Point Palooza
Interactive Graphic Organizers

Graphic Organizers Print Outs

  • Writing project over current issues/events involving the legislative branch

  • Class project: Write a bill and follow it through committee (mock legislature)

  • Determine if the sociological make-up of Congress is a fair representation of society. Students will extend this by writing an academic essay.

  • Research party make-up in Congress, as well as how their representatives vote on important issues.

  • Divide the book Profiles in Courage into 8 sections. Divide the class into 8 groups and each group will present why that Senator was an important part of American history.

  • Create an “H-Chart” on the similarities and differences of House and Senate membership and/or structure

  • Analyze C-Span clips which feature committee work (esp. a hearing/testimony)

  • Compare federal bills to state bills so as to distinguish difference of issues addressed (federalism)

  • Journal entry: How “elastic” should the “elastic clause” be?

  • Chart to classify specified list of powers as “expressed”, “inherent”, “implied”, “reserved”, “prohibited”

  • U.S. History Series: The Early Republic – “Name that Clause” pg 24+


  • Washington Post

  • New York Times

  • House of Representatives

  • Senate

Third Quarter

January 6 – March 12

Topic: Influence of Political Parties

Instructional Time:

10 Days

Cur. pgs. 19-20

OC³ and Essential Questions


Suggested Resources and Activities

4.3A Evaluate the role of political parties, interest groups including organized labor and the media in influencing the public agenda, public opinion, and the actions of government.
4.2G Identify the issues behind and explain the changes resulting from landmark United States Supreme Court decisions including Bush v. Gore (2000)
4.3B Describe the electoral process including the components of national campaigns, the nominative process, campaign funding, and the Electoral College.

Essential Questions

  1. How did the American party system develop?

  2. What influence have third party candidates had in presidential elections?

  3. How do primaries and voter turnout influence political parties.

  4. What do political parties do? Give several examples.

  5. Does the current political system allow for the best representation possible?

  6. All things considered can voters make final decisions to do what is best for society?

  1. Evolution and role of political parties in the United States, custom not law 4.3A

  • Role of Political Parties: Democrats, Republicans and what they stand for

  • Impact of Third parties

2. Election Process

  • Strengths and weaknesses of the Electoral College (1824, 1876, 1888, 2000) Bush v Gore 4.2G

  • Selection of Electors 4.3A

  • Caucus, Primary, National Nominating Convention: Open, Closed 4.3B

  • The Living Room Candidate

3. Campaign funding and spending 4.3B

4. Influence of media, advertising, public opinion polls 4.3A

5. Interest Groups 4.3A

Chapter 5-Section 1, 3

Chapter 5-Sections 2

Chapter 7-Sectiion 1, Chapter 8

Chapter 13-Sections 3,4,5

Chapter 9

Writing or Group Activity: Elections, interest groups, the media, and personal contacts all are means of measuring public opinion.

  1. Describe how each is used to measure public opinion.

  2. What are the limitations of each?

  • CH-S = Chapter-Section in Magruders American Government, KIT = Resources in Magruders Teacher’s Kit, WTP = We the People, OSS = Outside Sources

Suggested Resources and Literacy Connection

        • Clip of HBO movie “Recount” showing problems with the ballot

  • Develop a platform for a teen third party including current issues

  • Mock campaign and election

  • Compare and contrast the views of the major political parties

  • Write an editorial concerning the validity of the Electoral College

  • Debate current issues from the perspective of the political parties, or interest groups

  • Participate in a voter registration drive

  • Write letters to political candidates addressing their stand on particular issues

  • Write an academic essay: Does the current political system allow the U.S. to achieve the best representation possible? Or does your vote really count?

  • Read excerpt of Washington‘s farewell address on political parties and Federalist #10. To what extent are political parties appropriate/beneficial in American governmental life today?

  • Read differing opinions on Supreme Court’s decision of Citizens United v. FEC. With which point of view do you most agree and why?

  • Video clips of national conventions

  • Compare/contrast campaign commercials from The Living Room Candidate What is the power of the media within a political campaign?

  • Analyze political cartoons over political parties

  • Locate and analyze/predict public opinion polls

  • Bill of Rights: President and the Constitution

Volume One

Bush v. Gore, pg 140+

Electoral College, pg 118+

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