• Name: Mr. Vlagos
    Email Address: vlagosg@ntzb.org

    Political Studies

    Academic Year 2010-2011

    Mr. Vlagos and Mr. Lobo


    Prerequisites: World Studies and American Literature



    Given throughout the year.  This may include handouts, maps, packets, worksheets, documents, etc.


    Introduction, Course Description, and Overview:

     The Political Studies program is an integrated course taught by both a Social Science and a Language Arts teacher.  Within a project-based instructional methodology, students will learn and apply concepts about the structures and processes of the federal government, the organization, powers, and responsibilities of the branches of government as contained in the Constitution, the interrelations of the U.S. economy, and the factors which influence policymaking.  Students will study government documents, political literary pieces, and learn about the people who helped to shape our current political system.  Students will take a U.S. Constitution exam as required for graduation. The course will focus on the study of a variety of sources – novels, textbooks, firsthand and secondhand documents, etc. -- while recounting the theory and operation of our government. 


    Course Goals:

    This class assumes:           

    1.     American government requires the active participation of its citizens. To understand how to function as responsible citizens, students must examine how and why changes have occurred.

    2.     American government illustrates recurring themes. To understand the place these themes hold today, they must be analyzed and conclusions drawn about them.

    3.     Government as a discipline requires skills of reading, writing and critical thinking. Practice leading toward mastery of these skill areas is an integral part of the content.


    Course Objectives:

        Students will be able to:

    1. Understand the practical workings of the American political system.
    2. Study government and draw conclusions about it.
    3. Understand personal values and their relationship to government.
    4. Practice writing and research skills in order to communicate ideas clearly to others.
    5. Explore our heritage as a means of understanding ourselves and our role in government today.
    6. Discover relationships between the past and present as well as between politics, history and literature.
    7. Demonstrate a mastery of effective communication of his/her ideas related to American government using oral, written and/or visual means, and
    8. Explore, through inquiry and research, the interdisciplinary nature of a topic and make a critical response to that inquiry.


    21st Century Learning Outcomes

    1. Curricular Literacy

    ·       Students will demonstrate proficiency in the ACT College Readiness Standards and the Illinois Learning Standards through a comprehensive, rigorous, and relevant project-based curriculum.


    1. Oral Communication

    ·       Students will speak publicly, in both formal and informal context, demonstrating skills such as appropriate selection of topic and materials, clear organization, effective presentation, and the ability to adapt to audience, setting, and occasion.

    1. Written Communication

    ·       Students will use the writing processes, including invention, drafting, organizing, editing and revising through multiple drafts, to clearly communicate thoughts and information.

    4.     Critical Thinking

    ·       Students will thoughtfully negotiate information to interpret, analyze, and evaluate evidence, statements, graphics, and questions in order to construct well-supported, clearly articulated, and sustained arguments.

    1. Collaboration

    ·       Students will work effectively and efficiently as a cohesive team to plan, set goals, and make decisions in order to complete tasks and reach goals and objectives.


    1. Citizenship / Responsibility

    ·      Students will identify and apply knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors that demonstrate the sound ethical values and beliefs they have as citizens in the community, nation, and world.


    Content Learning Outcomes


        Topic Development in Terms of Purpose and Focus

        Organization, Unity and Coherence

        Word Choice in Term of Style, Tone, Clarity, and Economy

        Sentence Structure and Formation

        Conventions of Usage

        Conventions of Punctuation



        Main Ideas and Author’s Approach

        Supporting Details

        Sequential, Comparative, and Cause-Effect Relationships

        Meanings of Words

        Generalizations and Conclusions



        Expressing Judgments

        Focusing on the Topic

        Developing a Position

        Organizing Ideas

        Using Language


    Social Science

        Political Systems




        Social Systems


    Illinois State Goals


    Social Science

    14: Understand political systems, with an emphasis on the United States.

          A. Understand and explain basic principles of the United States government.

    ·  4.A.5 Analyze ways in which federalism protects individual rights and promotes the common                                         good and how at times has made it possible for states to protect and deny rights for certain groups.

    B. Understand the structures and functions of the political systems of Illinois, the U. S. and other nations.

                ·  14.B.5 Analyze similarities and differences of democracy, socialism, communism.

    C. Understand election processes and responsibilities of citizens.

           ·  14.C.5 Analyze the consequences of participation and non-participation in the electoral process.

    D. Understand the roles and influences of individuals and interest groups in Illinois and the United States.

    ·  14.D.5 Interpret a variety of public policies and issues from different perspectives.

    E. Understand United States foreign policy as it relates to other nations and international issues.

    ·  14.E.5 Analyze relationships and tensions among members of the international community.

    F. Understand the development of United States political ideas and traditions.

    ·  14.F.5 Interpret how changing geographical, economic, technological and social forces affect United    

                   States political ideas and traditions (e.g., freedom, equality and justice, individual rights).




    1.B.5a  Relate reading to prior knowledge and experience and make connections to related information.

    1.C.5c  Critically evaluate information from multiple sources.


    2.B.5b  Apply knowledge gained from litera­ture as a means of understanding contemporary and historical economic, social and political issues and perspectives.


    3.A.5  Produce grammatically correct docu­ments using standard manuscript specifications for a variety of purposes and audiences.

    3.C.5b  Write for real or potentially real situ­ations in academic, professional and civic contexts (e.g., applications, job applications, business letters, resume, petitions).

    Listening and Speaking

    4.B.5a  Deliver planned and impromptu oral presentations, as individuals and members of a group, conveying results of research, projects or literature studies to a variety of audiences (e.g., peers, community, business/industry, local organizations) using appropriate visual aids and available technology.


    5.A.5b  Research, design and present a project to an academic, business or school community audience on a topic selected from among contemporary issues.



    1. Governments are institutions that provide leadership and authority to meet people’s needs.
    2. Governments reflect the varied goals of individuals.
    3. Governments may need to restrict individuals or groups to protect the general welfare.
    4. Governments reflect human values.
    5. Governments reflect changes in human values and needs through laws, structures and policies.
    6. Governments’ sovereignty and interdependence affect people’s efforts to resolve major issues.
    7. Governments in complex societies need to become more representative in order to function more effectively.
    8. Governments reflect the interaction of individuals and groups through the process of compromise.
    9. Governments differ in providing for achievement of individual and group goals.
    10. Government’s decision-making processes often produce partisan organizations.
    11. Governments operate at several levels of authority to achieve varied goals.
    12. Democratic governments impose responsibilities as well as guarantee rights.


    Course Evaluation:

    Students will develop a variety of projects and products that demonstrate their understanding of learning outcomes and mastery of skills.  Within each project there will be various forms of assessment.  These forms include, but are not limited to, journals, discussion forums, quizzes, tests, diagrams, essays, debates, multi-media presentations, portfolios, etc.


    Grading Scale:

    Grades will be determined in the following manner:

                Content (30%)                                                Professionalism (10%)

                Collaboration (10%)                                    Critical Thinking (15%)

                Oral Communication (10%)                        Written Communication (20%)           

                Political Studies Content Literacy Integrated (5%)


    A = 100% - 90%

    B = 89%-80%

    C = 79%-70%

    D = 69%-60%

    F = 59%


    Classroom Expectations:

    Be respectful of others and their property. Please be on time for class.  Please write only in blue or black pen except when designated otherwise. Please don’t work on other assignments from other classes in this class. Bring assignments on the day they are due as it will be important for class dialogue and participation. When you are absent it is your responsibility to see Mr. Vlagos or Mr. Lobo concerning the assignments you missed and the time period in which you will have to complete them. Let’s all have a great year! We’re in it together!



Last Modified on October 1, 2009