Honors Government

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Honors Government Syllabus

Sara Shackett




Welcome to Honors Government!  I hope you’ll get a great deal out of this class and in the process that we’ll have a lot of fun learning together.  This is an honors level class.  That means that I expect a lot of enthusiasm, participation, and thinking from you.  It’s going to be hard, but it’ll be really interesting!

Practical Matters

The atmosphere is to be one of respect.  This must be the case if we are to share our knowledge and ideas with others.  But this means more than not interrupting others when they are speaking—it means listening attentively to others’ thoughts and thinking carefully about their ideas.  It means learning and using people’s names. It means not sending the message that you have other things on your mind.  Cell phones MUST be out of sight during class (not seen or heard) except when approved by the teacher, such as finding the answer to a question using a smart phone.  Violation of this policy WILL result in confiscation! We will follow the discipline plan for Lakewood High School; it’s just common courtesy, you know.

Due to the short nature of the course and the vast amount of material involved students are expected to become learners both IN and OUT of the classroom. Homework will be assigned each night; students will be informed in class and the information will also be posted on my website. I expect students to spend 30-45 minutes per block (so every two school days) on Government homework. I aim for the assignment to take around 30 minutes so that you will have 15 minutes to study for quizzes, rewrite your notes, interact with peers or me, etc.


Assignments are to be completed on time and in detail.  I am very good about updating my website with assignments and homework.  Access my website via the LHS homepage and social studies department. I will dock late assignments 20%, and you need to submit any late assignments by the time the unit is assessed. It is not acceptable to miss any assignments.


Academic honesty is of utmost importance.  Cheating will not be tolerated. Plagiarism will result in a 0 on the assignment and a note in the gradebook. That said, I do believe in the adage that two heads are better than one.  We will do a lot of group work; you will brainstorm, think, discuss, and complete tasks with other people.  However, there are times when it is inappropriate to work with anyone else. For example, tests and quizzes are individual activities.  If you ever feel confused about if it is appropriate to work with other students, please ask before you begin.


Attendance is important.  I adhere to the school’s attendance policy as detailed in the Student Planner.  Exams, quizzes, and homework often include questions on material presented only in class, so performance on these indirectly reflects attendance.  If you miss class, see my web page. Don’t ask me any questions about make-up work until you have looked at the lessons online AND asked another student. You should be prepared for class every day, so you are expected to be caught up from absences before walking into A215. If you miss a quiz, you have 48 hours to make it up. I will not exempt or postpone a quiz due to your own absence.


Extra help is always available.  If you need clarification or extra help, please ask for it!  I will be in my classroom (A215) or office (D202) for my office hours, which are after school until 3:40.  My planning periods are blocks 4, 5, and 8.  If you need help during my planning period, please make an appointment.


Materials you need for this class include loose-leaf paper, pens/pencils (any color is fine as long as it is dark enough to read), a handful of index cards, highlighters, a small stapler, and a binder/folder. 


Our textbook is Government Alive! Power, Politics, and You. Students have access to an online account. We will utilize the book and its companion materials frequently.


I have some pet peeves and feel that you deserve a heads up. 

  • First, if you must arrive late, come in as quietly as possible.  Explanations and questions are appropriate later.  Calling additional attention to yourself and wasting others’ time is unacceptable.
  • Do not interrupt and/or make a spectacle of yourself.  Second, any interruption to my class, such as sharpening your pencil, stapling papers, making inappropriate comments, or not coming to class prepared, is inappropriate and will be dealt with by a conniption fit from your teacher.  If you think I wouldn’t approve, don’t do it. 
  • Use furniture for appropriate purposes; please do not sit on the desk tops.
  • Never use the phrase, “did I miss anything?” when you come back from an absence.  It is offensive—of course you missed something.  Instead, ask a specific question that demonstrates that you have already looked at the website and spoken with another student in the class.
  • I won’t accept papers with spiral paper edges—remember to cut the frilly insanity-provoking edges off before class.
  • Finally, tapping, drumming, and any unnecessary noise drives me crazy.  Believe me—you don’t want a crazy teacher.


General topics for study

  • Foundations of government
  • America’s system and foundational documents
  • Civic participation
  • Legislative branch
  • Executive branch
  • Judicial branch


Grading Information

The grade scale is a basic ten-point scale.

            A         90-100%

            B          80-89%

            C         70-79%

            D         60-69%

            F          59% and below

All honors-level classes in Jeffco earn weighted grades.


Classroom Activities and Homework: Students will be involved in numerous large and small learning activities and discussions throughout the semester. 

(10% of grade)


Writing: We will work on writing with specificity and analysis throughout the semester. Expect to write four times.

(20% of grade)


Tests: 5 unit tests will be given during the semester.  If you miss a quiz for any reason, you must make up the quiz within 1 block (2 days). Make sure to earn 80% of the points consistently! Tests will be accompanied by a dress rehearsal as well as learning goal packets. More on those to follow.

(55% of grade)


Final exam:  The final exam is cumulative.

(15% of grade)

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