AP U.S. Government


Mr. Durfey

Updated May 28, 2013




Learning Activities

Possible Assessments





Democratic theories

Elements of the Policymaking System

Articles of Confederation versus the Constitution of 1787

The ideological and philosophical underpinnings of the Constitution (Locke, Montesquieu, Hobbes)

The Madisonian Model

Constitutional compromises

Federalists versus Anti-federalists

Amending process

History and development of federalism

Fiscal federalism






Structure of legislative branch, including powers

Power of incumbency

Congressional Committees





Evaluate the four democratic theories

Identify the parts of the policymaking system

Identify elements in the Madisonian Model

Trace the failures of the Articles of Confederation that led to the Constitutional Convention in 1787

Explain the compromises made at the Constitutional Convention

Analyze the arguments of the Federalists and Anti-federalists

Understand the difference between federal, unitary, and confederate systems and why the Founders chose a federal system

Recognize elements of our federal system, including the various powers, clauses, and Supreme Court rulings that enforce federalism

Trace the history of federalism in the U.S.

Identify the various elements of fiscal federalism, including grants-in-aid and mandates


Understand unicameral and bicameral

Identify the differences between the House of Representatives and the Senate

Identify reasons why incumbents are so hard to remove from elected office, including the “pork barrel” and casework

Trace the process by which a bill becomes a law

Identify leadership positions in both Houses and how that impacts the functioning of Congress

Explain the process of “democratization” of Congress

Identify the four committee types, their functions, and role in Congress



Textbook reading quizzes

Vocabulary quizzes

Reflective writings on Federalist 10 and 51

Article analysis on supplement readings

Timed writings based on past A.P. free response questions

Timed multiple-choice exams

Quick writes on various topics

Class debate:  Compromises

Chart:  Amending Process

Game:  Power Grab






Textbook reading quizzes

Vocabulary quizzes

Chart:  How a Bill becomes a Law

Quick writes on incumbency, leadership, and committees


Structure of the Executive Branch, including powers

Growth of Presidential powers over the years

Presidential roles

Impeachment process

Executive privilege, agreements, and orders



Structure of the Judicial Branch, including power of judicial review

Selection of federal judges

How cases are picked for Supreme Court review

Original intent versus judicial activism





Structure and roles of the bureaucratic agencies

Types of bureaucracies

Implementation and regulation of laws

Iron triangles/issue networks

How the three branches and the bureaucracy interact with and “check” one other









Identify the different components of the executive branch

Identify the powers of the President

Explain how and why presidential power has expanded over time

Explain the different roles the President fulfills, including those that are not mentioned in the Constitution

Trace the impeachment process and identify those presidents who have faced impeachment

Identify the three ways the president is able to bypass Congress when desired (agreements, orders, and the claim of executive privilege)

Identify the three levels of the federal judiciary

Explain the process by which the president picks and the Senate approves new federal judges

Explain the process by which a case is called up to the Supreme Court and what happens then

Understand the difference between strict (original intent) interpretation and loose (activist) interpretation in judicial rulings

Identify the four types of bureaucratic agencies and what they do

Trace the process of implementation and regulation of new laws

Explain what iron triangles and issue networks are and be able to give a real world example of both

Understand the constitutional and legislative ways the three branches and the bureaucracy can control each other





Textbook reading quizzes

Vocabulary quizzes

Reflective writings on the politics of the pork barrel

Timed responses based on past A.P. free response questions

Timed multiple-choice exams

Class debate:  Original Intent?  Yes or No?

Silent debate:  For Pork or Not For Pork- That is the Question

Identifying and mapping an iron triangle with its related issue network

All the President’s Men:  The Limits of Executive Privilege

The History of Impeachment- Meet the Three Presidents Who Faced the Process




















Political socialization

Political participation (both conventional and unconventional)

The differences between liberals and conservatives

Political ideologies














Identify the different agents of political socialization

Explain the various ways citizens choose to participate in politics, including the conventional methods, like voting, and the unconventional ways, like protest

Analyze the ideological differences between liberals and conservatives, including both social and economic differences

Identity why different demographic groups tend to vote with specific political parties

Trace what makes a poll legitimate







Textbook reading quizzes

Vocabulary quizzes

Politopia- Where Do You Live Politically?

Self-Mapping:  Ideological Development

Timed writings based on past A.P. free response questions











Political Parties in the U.S.

The two-party system- U.S. style

Third parties


Primary/caucus systems

The electoral college

The history of campaign finance and the efforts to reform it

Interest groups


Media in politics












Fiscal, monetary, and taxation policies

How the U.S. collects money

Entitlement programs

Debt versus deficit

Yearly budget process

“welfare states”

Federal Reserve system



Trace the history of political parties, from the anti-party ideals of the Founding Fathers to the modern day Republicans and Democrats

Explain why a two-party system developed in the U.S.

Identify the types of third parties, their purpose in a two party system and real world examples of them

Explain the differences between primaries and caucuses and the why they developed

Explain how politicians fund their campaigns and trace the history of efforts to reform the process and track donations, including the Campaign Refinance Act of 1974 and McCain-Feingold of 2002

Explain what a PAC is and why they developed

Analyze why the U.S. uses the electoral college, including the Founders beliefs about who should govern and how they should be elected

Explain the difference between a political party and an interest group

Identify the types of interest groups in the U.S. and how they try to influence politics

Trace the history of media’s involvement in politics, especially the rise of the investigative reporter and the “gotcha” attitude of many reporters since Watergate

Identify the roles of media in politics, including agenda setting and gate-keeping

Analyze the impact of cable, satellite, and the Internet on politics, especially campaigning

Identify bias in reporting

Explain how polling and the media are often intimately tied together when reporting political issues to the American public



Identify the different taxation systems, from progressive to regressive

Explain “incrementalism

Explain the different methods the U.S. governments collect money, including income taxes and bonds

Trace the history of Social Security, including the additions of unemployment, disability, and Medicare

Explain the difference between the debt and the deficit

Trace the annual process the federal government goes through to create its year budget

Identify a “welfare state” and explain the development of public policies that are pushing the U.S. in the direction of becoming one

Explain what the Federal Reserve system is and what it does


Textbook reading quizzes

Vocabulary quizzes

Timed multiple choice and free response exam

Article analysis on supplemental readings

Class debate:  the Electoral College

Scrapbook:  Examples of media bias

Living room candidate assignment on campaign ads

Researching an interest group and its PAC

Chart work on the history of campaign finance and reform efforts

All the President’s Men clips

Media in the Modern Age assignment






Textbook reading quizzes

Vocabulary quizzes

Game:  Congress and the Budget

Chart- History of Social Security





The Balanced Budget amendment



Areas of economic policymaking

Ties between the U.S. and the international economy, including trade policies

Poverty in the U.S.

Proposals to save Social Security

Health care issues

Environmental issues

National security issues

Globalization and the U.S.





Civil rights and liberties

1st Amendment

Rights of the Accused

The “right to privacy”

Struggle for civil rights by ethnic/gender minorities

Expansion of voting rights

Affirmative Action

Civil rights legislation








Review US Government – will be done in the Comparative Government Course during the month of April!







A.P. U.S. Government and A.P. Comparative Politics exams


2014  US Government May 13 AM

            Comparative      May 16 AM




Post Exam


Country and Issue Projects



Explain the pros and cons of the Balanced Budget amendment

Define “inflation” and explain its impact on economic policies

Explain how unemployment impacts economic policies and different strategies the U.S. has tried to deal with it, including New Deal policies

Define the different areas of economic policy making:  business, labor, and consumer

Explain the various policies developed by the U.S. to deal with poverty issues, including New Deal and Great Society programs

Explain the various proposals to “save” Social Security

Identify the various proposals to create some type of nationalized health care policy, including free market proposals

Identify the various laws already on the books, like the Clean Water Act of 1970, and also explain the various new proposals to deal with environmental issues

Briefly trace the history of the U.S. in terms of foreign policy, for example:  The Monroe Doctrine… 

Identify the various national security policies the U.S. has

Explain how globalization links the U.S. to other nations through specific economic policies, like NAFTA


Identify and explain the components of the 1st Amendment- speech, press, religion, assembly, and petition.  Also identify the various components of each right, for example- prior restraint and symbolic speech

Identify and explain the protections accused citizens have, including search and seizure laws and the right to an attorney in criminal cases

Trace the development of the implied “right to privacy” and its relation to the abortion debate

Trace the struggle of the various ethnic/gender minorities for their civil rights with a special focus on African Americans

Trace the expansion of voting rights, including the various amendments that address who can vote and what impact this has had on voter turnout in elections

Explain what Affirmative Action is and the history of the various programs related to it, including Supreme Court cases

Identify the various civil rights laws, including their components.  For example, the Civil Rights Act of 1964


Textbook reading quizzes

Vocabulary quizzes

Timed multiple choice and free response exam

Article analysis of supplemental readings

Class debate:  Nationalized Health Care?

Silent debate:  Reforming Social Security









Textbook reading quizzes

Vocabulary quizzes

Supreme Court case exam

Timed multiple choice and free response exam

Article analysis on supplemental readings

A Place at the Table lessons on various minority groups

Class debate:  Who Is a Minority?

Silent Debate:  Affirmative Action and Reverse Discrimination