Home The American Citizen Film Arts   APGovPol

The American Citizen
Course Overview



Course Description
(from the official NKCHS Career and Educational Planning Guide for 2001-2002)

The American Citizen- Credit: 1 unit, Grades: 11-12
Prerequisite: None
This is the culminating course for high school social studies. The American Citizen will focus on developing the qualities of "civic mindedness" (a concern for the common good of society and an interest in sustaining democracy), "civic intelligence" (a firm grounding in the knowledge of values, principles, and historical events which have shaped current society), "civic literacy" (working cooperatively, formulating judgements), and "civic enterprise" (the willingness to pursue solutions and accept responsibility as citizens). The orientation of this course is student knowledge of and participation in American government. Specific instruction on the U.S. Constitution will be given, and students will be assessed on this instruction. Requirements may include the completion of community service work.

Course Description
(English-language translation provided by the instructor)
  • The American Citizen is a two-semester course for juniors and seniors. With sufficient effort, a decent work ethic and regular attendance in class students may earn one full unit of credit in social studies.
  • Students must pass this class to graduate from any of the high schools within the North Kansas City School District, including NKCHS.
  • There are no official prerequisites for the course. However, students will find it very helpful (and they will find the course to be a lot more fun) if they are generally knowledgeable about
    • United States and world history (remember those previous social studies classes?)
    • the basic concepts and principles of government and democracy (remember those previous social studies classes?)
    • the social, political, religious and governmental culture of the United States as a whole
    • what is happening "in the news" -- in our community, state, nation and the world
  • Students are expected to come to class prepared to learn. The most important element in this is an attitude that there are things of value to learn in this course, and a healthy respect for others' right to an education. Cooperation with others is necessary for success in this course -- with other students, your instructor, and other staff members at NKCHS. Being prepared to learn also includes such things as bringing appropriate course-related materials when they are needed, and the completion of assigned readings, assignments and individual and group projects on the date they are due. It also means that each student (just like their instructor!) may need to be flexible and willing to learn "real life" skills that will make them a more competent individual.
  • Units of instruction include
    • a review of the basic principles of government
    • public opinion, interest groups, political parties and the process of electing public officials in our democracy
    • the legislative process, lawmaking powers and how laws are made in a democratic society
    • leadership in a democracy through the executive branch of government and the power of the bureaucracy to carry out policies
    • civil rights, civil liberties, and how the national and state constitutions help to guarantee the rights of the majority and protect those who hold minority views
    • the courts system and legal processes at the national, state and local levels
    • the theory and practice of economic systems in our world today
  • Additional class time will be used to explore
    • the people and events and issues that are of contemporary importance
    • local, state and national geography
    • the use of computer-related technology to complete research projects and oral presentations

Students' Grades

If you want to succeed in this course, be ready to . . .

  • learn new skills and knowledge that will help you be a better student and more competent individual
  • complete assigned readings in the text, online, or hand-outs prepared by your instructor
  • bring paper, pens, pencils every day, and your text when asked by your instructor
  • actively participate in class activities and discussions in a mature fashion
  • read, listen to and/or watch the news in a variety of formats (including the Web)

Final grades will be based on the percentage of total possible points a student has earned by the end of the semester for assignments, projects, quizzes, tests, and participation in in-class activities as follows:

A = 90% to 100%
B = 80% to 89%
C = 70% to 79%
D = 60% to 69%
F = 59% or less

Extra Credit
Your instructor does not believe in offering "extra credit" to students who "blow off" this course, and then realize in the final weeks of the semester that they are in danger of earning a poor grade because of their lack of effort. The question, "Do you offer extra credit?" should come at the beginning of the course, not at the end of it.

Your instructor is generally available during Seminar blocks and after school by appointment. See her/him to discuss earning extra credit through taking on additional academic responsibilities..


Copyright © Debbie Twyman and Craig Whitney
Last Updated: