Upper School American Government
In this course, students will develop a rich understanding of American democracy by reading and discussing philosophical writings that influenced America’s Founding Fathers, the foundational documents of the United States, essays from prominent American thinkers, and Supreme Court decisions. Students will learn about the “nuts and bolts” of how our government works (e.g., the three branches of government and how a bill becomes a law). However, this course will additionally expect students to dig deeper and interact with the philosophical ideals that inspired our Founding Fathers. Students will also grapple with the different political ideologies that have shaped and changed the American political system throughout our history. By the end of the course, students can expect to know how our government works, articulate the major camps in American political thought, and understand the crucial role that they, as citizens, play in the democratic system.
While this course primarily features historical study, it also integrates some studies from American literature, helping students to see and enjoy the integration of history and literature. This class is paired with our upper-school American literature course and scheduled back-to-back with that course in a “block.” Students who take both courses receive a discount. This course may also be taken as a standalone history study.
Important Skills and Behaviors Needed to Achieve Mastery
- Even the most avid readers will find some of the texts read in this course challenging. To achieve mastery, students must be willing to grapple with these texts and come to class prepared with questions about sections they do not understand.
- Debate is a central part of this course—students should be capable of preparing and articulating an argument, avoiding basic fallacies. The instructor will help students develop these skills throughout the course.
- Students must be able to type and understand basic English grammar rules and punctuation (e.g., recognize a noun, verb, adjective, subject, etc.).
- Students must be familiar with MLA writing conventions and familiar with the basics of formatting a paper and citing texts. The instructor will help students develop these skills throughout the course.
Placement: Please read about our new process above.
The target grades for this course are 9th–10th grade. Students must have successfully completed an 8th-grade-level writing course; they will be expected to have a basic grasp of grammar and know how to write a summary and reflect on a text (though the instructor will work to develop these skills throughout the course). Students are expected to have strong reading and writing skills as well as the interest and capacity for engaging in discussion about literature and history. Students well suited for this course will continue refining the following scholarship skills as they approach mastery:
- Actively and independently engage in note-taking
- Apply teacher critiques
- Adhere to deadlines
- Be responsible for class and project preparedness
- Take initiative to ask questions for understanding and comprehension
High School Credit: This course is the equivalent of one high school credit in history or government.
How much time will students spend on homework?
This varies by student according to his or her pace. However, the average reader can expect to spend approximately one hour per week reading course materials and approximately 30 minutes to an hour working on the questions.
How is faith integrated with these courses?
These seminar-style discussions unfold organically. One could approach the texts with a focus on defensive critiques of classical authors. By contrast, we seek to read charitably. We treat classic authors as if they were friends, gleaning every available truth while also examining them from a robustly Christian perspective.
At Scholé Academy, we have carefully considered how we should engage our contemporary culture as those who believe that Christ is the Truth (John 14:6), and that all truth has its source in him. We think it is important to provide our upper school students (in grades 7–12) with tools and opportunities for critically examining various cultural trends, issues, and mores through the lens of orthodox, Christian beliefs. Being confident in the truth revealed to us in creation, the Scriptures, and the tradition of the Church, we are not afraid to follow the truth and its implications nor to address error and falsehood. Read more about our Faith & Culture.
In 2023-2024, Scholé Academy’s American Government will integrate the new Humanitas American Origins texts. See samples for Book 1 and Book 2 here.
For each skill instructors have determined whether it is a prerequisite skill or a skill to be developed throughout the course. For lower school, instructors indicate where parent support is expected.
- With Parent Support: Skills that most lower school students will need help with.
- Developing: Skills that the instructor will help develop and emphasize throughout the year.
- Mastered: Prerequisite skills that the instructor is expecting students to possess.
- Be responsible for reviewing teacher feedback, suggestions and comments about student work and employing that feedback as necessary.
- Be able to manage Canvas assignments and submissions (view assignments, check for teacher messages, submit homework as pdf file, submit revisions if necessary, set Canvas notifications for the class, view class notifications when posted, etc.).
- Be able to review notifications ongoing throughout the year; notifications which include: class announcements, homework assignments, due dates, instructor comments made on assignments, instructor comments made on individual student submissions, instructor comments made on graded items, etc.
- Be able to set notifications settings to alert the student of class announcements, homework assignments, due dates, instructor comments made on assignments, instructor comments made on individual student submissions, instructor comments made on graded items, etc.
- Be able to respectfully and wisely engage with other students and the instructor on Canvas discussion boards.
- Be able to respectfully, wisely and formally engage with instructor through private Canvas messaging.
- Be able to self-edit written submissions for grammar and spelling mistakes.
- Be able to employ the feedback of the instructor into future edits and submissions of the assignment.
- Be able to build well organized paragraphs which employ (among other skills) topic sentences, transition sentences, clear linear thinking throughout the essay.
- Be able to build a logical, well-reasoned argument through a written essay providing sound reasoning (i.e. true premises, valid arguments, sound conclusions).
- Be able to request a family or peer to edit submissions, but understands these requests should be for the purposes of raising important questions for the student to consider and suggesting minor edits. The student understands that family or peer editors should not be reworking of sentences, redefining terms, building new concepts, building arguments or writing passages for the student.
- Be able to write sentences with basic sentence syntax (i.e. capitalization of first word in a sentence, punctuation at the end of each sentence, space between sentences, capitalization of proper nouns, each sentence having a subject and predicate, etc.).
- Be able to spell at grade level and employ course vocabulary cumulatively throughout the course.
- Be able to read material independently and identify questions which require clarification or further explanation from the instructor.
- Be able to mark, underline or highlight important words, definitions or concepts within a text being read both while reading independently and reading corporately as a class.
- Be able to identify key terms in a passage, and follow the author’s argument.
- Be able to listen to the author’s argument and understand it even if the student disagrees with the conclusion reached or reasons given.
- Be able to read material independently and identify the information which might be relevant to course discussions and objectives (even if the student doesn’t fully understand all of what’s being read).
- Be able to employ basic MLA formatting skills (i.e. 1-inch margins, double spacing, heading on paper).
- Be able to employ MLA citations for (for quoted material and referenced material) through the use of footnotes or endnotes, bibliography, work-cited page. Student should have a concept of what plagiarism is and know how to avoid it.
- Be able to type short answers in complete sentences.
- Be able to type paragraph essays (short essays, and 5 or more page essays).
- Follow class discussions and seminar conversations to record notes without the instructor identifying specifics.
- Be prepared to generate thoughtful questions to enhance the class discussion, to identify areas needing clarification, and to make valuable connections with other course content.
- Follow along with instructor-led note-taking and record notes during class.
- Follow along with instructor-led workbook completion and record answers during class.
- Be prepared to thoughtfully answer questions when called on in a group setting, during class.
- Be prepared to volunteer thoughtful comments, answers and ideas in a group setting, during class.
- Understand the difference between assignments given by an instructor and the necessary and independently initiated need for private study of material.
- Be able to schedule and manage multiple projects from multiple instructors and courses.
- Be able to schedule time outside of class to complete independent review of materials.
- Be able to determine the best places and ways to study at home (i.e. quiet, undistracted, utilizing various methods of review (auditory, written, visual, practice tests, flashcards, etc.).
- Be responsible to study at home for quizzes, tests and other assessments.
Required Reading List:*
Please note that most texts will be provided with an online link or public domain pdf. The text you will need to purchase are:
- Humanitas: American Origins Set (Classical Academic Press) Books 1 & 2
- Humanitas: American Republic Set (Classical Academic Press) Books 1 & 2
- Books 1 and 2 ship together as a set
- Available July 2023
- Robert Remini’s A Short History of the United States
Additional Texts Provided as PDF:
- Plato’s Republic
- John Locke’s Second Treatise on Civil Government
- A Short History of the United States (excerpts), Remini
- Common Sense, Paine
- The Declaration of Independence
- The U.S. Constitution
- Alexis De Tocqueville’s Democracy in America
- The Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers
- Gettysburg Address, Lincoln
- Select U.S. Supreme Court decisions
*Required materials are not included in the purchase of the course.
Chris Marchand (pronounced mar-shan) is a music pastor and priest within the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), serving in Peoria, Illinois. He holds a Master of Theological Studies and a Master of Arts in Music Ministry from Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary, and was trained as a hospital chaplain in a residency program at Saint Francis Hospital. A former headmaster and teacher at Aletheia Classical Christian School, he has taught humanities, history, science, and government courses. He is married to Elisa and they have four children. The author of Celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas: a guide for churches and families, he also produces podcasts, composes music, and loves to discuss anything related the arts and his favorite sport email@example.com
Computer: You will need a stable, reliable computer, running with a processor with a speed of 1 GHz or better on one of the following operating systems: Mac OS X with Mac OS 10.7 or later; Windows 8, 7, Vista (with SP1 or later), or XP (with SP3 or later). We do not recommend using an iPad or other tablet for joining classes. An inexpensive laptop or netbook would be much better solutions, as they enable you to plug an Ethernet cable directly into your computer. Please note that Chromebooks are allowed but not preferred, as they do not support certain features of the Zoom video conference software such as breakout sessions and annotation, which may be used by our teachers for class activities.
High-Speed Internet Connection: You will also need access to high-speed Internet, preferably accessible via Ethernet cable right into your computer. Using Wi-Fi may work, but will not guarantee you the optimal use of your bandwidth. The faster your Internet, the better. We recommend using a connection with a download/upload speed of 5/1 Mbps or better. You can test your Internet connection here.
Webcam: You may use an external webcam or one that is built in to the computer. Webcam Recommendations: Good (PC only) | Best (Mac and PC)
Headset: We recommend using a headset rather than a built-in microphone and speakers. Using a headset reduces the level of background noise heard by the entire class. Headset Recommendations: USB | 3.5mm
Zoom: We use a web conferencing software called Zoom for our classes, which enables students and teachers to gather from around the globe face to face in real time. Zoom is free to download and easy to use. To download Zoom:
- Visit zoom.us/download.
- Click to download the first option listed, Zoom Client for Meetings.
- Open and run the installer on your computer.
- In August, students will be provided with instructions and a link for joining their particular class.
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First, read the available course descriptions, noting prerequisites, target grades, and course objectives. If you think your student is prepared for the course, go ahead and register. After registration, a placement assessment may be provided to students, depending on the course and the student’s previous enrollment with Scholé Academy. Registration is finalized when the student’s placement assessment has been returned by the course instructor with placement confirmation.
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Our Assistant to the Principal will be in touch with you after your enrollment to help you with next steps, including any placement evaluations that may be required for your course selections.
This registration will be finalized when the student's placement assessment has been returned by the course instructor with placement confirmation.