Close Up United States Government & Economics - 11th Grade Close Up Government & Economics

  • Course Description:

    The purpose of this class is to examine government at the federal, state, and local levels. Throughout the course, students will consider the ways in which government in this country is organized, the ways in which people participate, the many functions that government has, and the way in which it carries out those functions. Class activities will include guest speakers, projects, simulations, group work, and small group discussion concerning the organization and tasks of governments, as well as the problems and issues which concern them. 


    Course Philosophy:

    This course is organized on the assumptions that all students can be successful learners, and all students can master the important lessons of US Government. The key to success is being keenly interested in the subject matter. Getting students interested in the people, ideas, and functions of government requires effort from both the teacher and the student. It is the teacher’s job to make the subject matter meaningful and intriguing. It is the student’s job to approach the subject with the intention of building understanding, rather than simply trying to “get the work done”.


    Course Requirements:

    Learning government and politics can be fun and exciting. It can also be fast-paced and intense. As a result, it will require a commitment of time and energy on the part of the students. I expect that each student does his/her best, is responsible, and possesses a positive attitude and open mind. If you participate everyday, complete and turn in all homework on time, and ask questions when needed, it will be great year of learning!

    Students enrolled in Close Up MUST participate in one of the Washington, D.C. trips offered in the late winter/early spring. A deposit must be turned in before school starts of $200.00 to reserve your place on a trip.  This trip will be the capstone experience of the Close Up Government class and is a crucial experience in bringing the United States Government alive!  If you would like more information about the Close Up Foundation, visit their website at


    Learning Readiness and Participation:

    All students have a responsibility to put themselves in a position to learn each day. I call this learning readiness. Learning readiness, being on time and present in class physically and mentally will be about 5-10% part of your overall grade. I do this because good attendance, being prepared to learn, and exhibiting positive classroom behavior is absolutely essential for optimal learning. Classroom attendance and active participation instills a concept of self-confidence and enables students to interact with the teacher and fellow students in learning information not available outside of the classroom setting. This applies to ALL aspects of class time including but not limited to class discussions, group work, journaling, independent work, computer lab work, and library research.

    Thus, at the end of each marking period, I will be giving each student a learning readiness grade, that includes participation and attendance, and positive classroom behavior. The attendance portion of this grade is derived from the number of absences and tardies, passes that require you to leave, and early dismissal/late arrival. Your preparedness to learn includes having all materials necessary, paying attention and not putting your head down, and active participation. Your positive behavior in class includes staying on task, not socializing excessively, doing work only for this class, respecting classmates, wearing appropriate clothing, following directions, etc. Please understand that these are things that most students do everyday anyway. However, those who choose not to be positive and prepared, will see it negatively impact their grade. The benefit of this structure is that it puts the responsibility back on you, the student, for your actions – which will help you learn and grow into a mature and accountable adult!


    Classroom Rules and Procedures:

    While learning readiness addresses the positive behavior that is expected of each student, it does not specifically outline rules & procedures for positive classroom functioning. As the teacher I put forth my best effort at all times. I aim to set a great example on what is appropriate classroom behavior. Therefore, I set high standards for my students with regards to effort and behavior. Please see the sheet on Mrs. Holowicki’s Classroom Expectations, Rules, Procedures & Consequences for more information regarding my behavior expectations and classroom rules. The most important thing to know is that any student actions that interfere with the teaching or learning in the classroom will NOT be tolerated (and will impact Learning Readiness grade!)



    Our textbook is Government Alive! © 2009 by TCI (Teacher’s Curriculum Institute). Textbooks are to be brought to class EVERY day, and should be covered. In addition, students are asked to have a 3-ring 1” binder for class notes, assignments, journals, etc. Please put plenty of loose-leaf paper in the front of your binder for notes and in-class assignments. 


    Additional Materials:

    Please see the recommended student supply list. Students should have their textbooks, notebooks, and something to write with each and every day! (Learning Readiness!)



    Exams have various formats (essay, short answer, multiple choice, true/false, etc). Exams will contain questions from class notes, the textbook, assignments, discussions, videos, and more. Students will be given advance notice of all exams. Exams will be worth approximately 25% of the grade in the class. 


    Quizzes/Pop Quizzes:

    Quizzes and pop quizzes will be given from time to time. If a student is absent, the quiz needs to be made-up on the day he/she returns. Once graded quizzes are returned to students who were present on the day of the quiz, there will be no opportunity for make-ups. Unexcused absences on the day of a quiz or test will result in "0" points. Quizzes will be worth approximately 10% of the grade in this class.


    Projects, Essays and Simulations:

    Units often culminate with a project or simulation. These may take the form of a written report, role-playing activity, debate, or another form of student-led learning. Students are expected to prepare and participate in all projects and simulations. Projects & simulations will be worth approximately 25% of the grade in this class. All major assignments and essays must be turned in on the due date. After the due date, the assignment will be graded at 50% of the score earned. All major assignments must be TYPED unless students are informed otherwise. When requested, rough drafts must accompany projects/essays for credit. Plagiarism on any assignment will result in the student earning a “0” on that assignment with no opportunity to re-do the assignment for credit and the student’s assistant principal will be notified.


    Class Binders

    It is recommended that each student have a class binder. This binder should be a three-ring notebook. Students should have their binders with them for each class. I will provide a suggested organization format for binders, so that the student can always access information quickly and easily.



    Students should expect a lot of work (thinking, reading, writing, analyzing, and discussing) in this class. The purpose of assignments (and homework) is to reinforce and deepen understanding of the unit of study. This work is not intended to be “busy work” – any more than practicing piano is busy work to an aspiring musician or working out is busy work to a top athlete. Work in this class is intended to help students be more successful learners – not just in US Government class, but for life. 

    Because there will be a lot of assignments in this class, it is not possible to grade every assignment thoroughly. Sometimes completed assignments will simply be recorded as done. Sometimes completed assignments will be graded thoroughly and carefully. Since students will not know which assignments will be graded with a “fine-toothed comb” and which ones will receive nothing more than a glance, it is important to give every assignment your best effort.


    Assignment Due Dates:

    All homework must be completed by the due date. Homework that is being collected on a specific date, and not put in your binder for review at a later date, must be turned in at the beginning of the hour to the appropriate bin. Late work will be counted as 50% of the original point value, but may be turned in for half-credit up until a due date set by the teacher (approximately twice per marking period). Please be sure to check the classroom website as well as daily in-class assignment posting for due dates.

    If you are absent on the day an assignment is due, and are EXCUSED for your absence, homework is due on the day in which you return to school (unless other arrangements have been made). Homework that is not specifically collected may be checked during a binder check. It is YOUR responsibility to obtain any missed classwork when you return from an EXCUSED absence. If you have an unexcused absence, you cannot make-up any coursework that was missed during that class. All classwork and homework should be neatly submitted on paper with no “fringes” and must be written in black or blue INK or TYPED for credit. Plagiarism or cheating on any assignment will result in the student earning a “0” on that assignment with no opportunity to re-do the assignment for credit and the student’s assistant principal will be notified.



    Grades will be based on a continuously running point system. All assignments, projects, and exams will be worth a specific number of points, which amount to a specific percentage of the total points available. For example, approximately 40% of a student’s grade comes from their exam scores. Thus, if the total possible points for a semester were 1000 points, then about 400 of those points would come from exams.

    Therefore, a student’s grade is comprised of:

    40% Exams & Quizzes

    25% Projects, Essays & Simulations

    10% Learning Readiness/Participation

    25% Homework Assignments


    I follow the following grading scale.

    Grading Scale:


    93 – 100%


    90 – 92.9%


    87 – 89.9%


    83 – 86.9%


    80 – 82.9%


    77 – 79.9%


    73 – 76.9%


    70 – 72.9%


    67 – 69.9%


    63 – 66.9%


    60 – 62.9%


    0 – 59.9%

    Because there is an opportunity for extra credit, grades are NOT rounded from the nearest half percent.

    Marking Period Grades are issued as a “formal” progress report and reflect the student’s grade at that time. 

    Students should try to stay up to date on their own grades through Parent Connect. I will post grades in the classroom periodically (at least 2 times each progress report period), but I will not answer individual questions about grades unless a student has shown me they have tried to access Parent Connect and find out what they are missing, etc. Students who find an error or problem on the posted grade sheet must notify me immediately.


    Extra Credit:

    There is an opportunity for you to earn extra credit in this election year by campaigning for the candidate/party of your choice. You may also choose to attend a local government meeting. On occasion, I will host an “Extra Credit Movie Night” to show a film that relates to what we are studying that we don’t have time to watch in class. (Additional information about these extra credit opportunities will be given in class.)   I will sometimes make a different extra credit assignment available to the entire class as it pertains to the material we are studying. Extra credit work, like regular class work, must be your best work to receive credit. You should not attempt to recover missing and late work through extra credit, rather improve an existing grade.



    Good attendance is extremely important to successful class performance. I follow the student handbook regarding loss of credit status for excessive absences.



    Tardiness is not acceptable. Students are expected to be in their seats and prepared when the bell rings. Should a student arrive to class tardy, he/she is expected to sign in on the appropriate sheet located next to the door. After 3 tardies, students will be sent to the In School Suspension Room, which will result in an absence from class. 


    Absences/Make-up work:

    Please follow the steps below when you are absent:

    1. Refer to the unit schedule/class assignment log for any assignments you missed.
    2. Check with a classmate or your study buddy for any notes you may have missed.
    3. Get missed assignments from the appropriate folder for your class and hour.
    4. Turn-in all make-up work with “ABSENT” written on the top into the bin.


    • If the student is aware of a test, quiz, or assignment, before being absent, the student is to take the test, or turn in the assignment, with the rest of the class.
    • If you were absent only one day, the day of the exam, it must be completed on the day you return. 
    • If you were absent many days in a row, a schedule for make up work will be decided by the teacher and student collectively. You need to see me within 2 days of being absent to discuss when you will make up the work you missed.
    • Exams/quizzes must be made up before or after school, or during lunch. They may not be made up during class.
    • If you have any further questions regarding missed work or make-up work, please see me before or after school, or at an appropriate time during class.


    Computer Lab/Media Center:

    Occasionally we will go to the computer lab for research or to work on a particular assignment. In the lab, we will have assigned seats, which can only be varied with the permission of the teacher if the assignment requires partner work. Each student is expected to sign the record sheet in the lab to record where they were sitting each time we visit the lab. Any student who chooses not to follow directions in the lab or the media center, whether it is due to visiting inappropriate websites or damaging the computer equipment, will be banned from using the lab or coming to the media center. I expect that all students have an Acceptable Use Form on file with the district, and I will be checking for this at the beginning of the year. 


    Study Buddies:

    Each student will be paired up with a “study buddy”, which is someone in their class period whom they can contact if they have questions regarding an assignment, due dates, etc. This may or may not be someone they already know prior to the class beginning, but nevertheless, should be someone whom they feel comfortable asking for help in class.


    Cooperative Group Learning:

    Some projects in this class will require group work either inside or outside of class. For most of the projects where the majority of the assignment is to be completed outside of school, students will get to choose their partners. For projects or assignments where the majority of the task is to be completed in class, I may choose the groups myself, or assign them randomly. In any group assignment, I expect all students to pull their own weight and to not rely on one person to do most of the work. I need to be made aware of any problems as they arise, but I encourage students to work through problems on their own first. Students always have the option of working independently, but this may mean a lot of work for a particular student. Additionally, it is my belief that he/she who chooses to work by themselves will miss out on life-lessons that can come from engaging in group work and the benefit of learning from other students.


    Extra Help:

    It is vitally important that students come in for additional help as soon as the need arises, NOT the day before a test or quiz. I am usually available before and after school. Just notify me in advance, so I know you are coming. Sometimes, usually on Mondays, there are meetings I must attend immediately after school. Also, I usually offer formal review sessions after school the day before a big test. Please take advantage of this time if you need it. It shows me that you care about the class and your grade. And what you put into improving your understanding, will result in an almost guaranteed improvement of your grade.


    Restroom Passes:

    Passes are issued at the discretion of the teacher. Students are limited to three passes per semester & can only be obtained when students use the “coupons” provided to them the first week.



    To keep the classroom free of food related garbage, spills, and crumbs, food and drink is not allowed in the classroom with the exception of water, unless you have a doctor’s note.


    Guest Speakers:

    When we have the opportunity for a guest speaker to visit our classroom, I expect that you are on your best behavior, and give the guest speaker your undivided attention and respect. Appropriate questions for the guest speaker are welcomed, as is a note of thanks for their time spent coming to our class.


    Substitute Teachers:

    In the event that I am not at school, I expect you to cooperate fully with whomever takes my place. Please do not ask the sub for a pass unless it is an emergency. I have asked the substitute teacher to indicate the reason for any pass issued. Good behavior while a sub is here will be rewarded. Each student will be given up to 10 points for good participation and cooperation. Points will be awarded on the basis of the note left by the sub. Anyone who creates a problem (especially if your name is left), will lose the entire 10 points. Any problem will also result in a phone call home and an after school detention. Please understand these requirements and consequences, and help the sub out!


    Current Events

    Current events are an essential part of this course. Students should focus on current events in the political and global arena. To accomplish this, students need to find a reliable news source such as the National News (Brokaw, CNN, etc), National Public Radio (91.7), and/or the Internet (MSNBC, CNN, etc).