U.S. Government


This blog will be a place for resources and postings that will be helpful on an on-going basis. 


Framers? Founders? [12.07.07]

Two terms you may have noticed floating around your lessons and in the textbook this year: "The Founders" and "The Framers". What exactly do these terms mean?

"The Founders" (or "Founding Fathers") refers to the men who founded our country. It is those leaders who were prominent in the earliest years of our republic in politics, government, diplomacy, and the military.

"The Framers" refers to the men who wrote, or "framed", the Constitution. It includes those who attended the Constitutional Convention or were influential upon it.

Neither grouping has exact boundaries, which is to say that it is possible in some cases to debate whether someone was, or was not, a founder or framer. What can also add to the confusion is that there is a lot of overlap between the two groups. George Washington, for example, was clearly both a founder (as our commander-in-chief during the War for Independence and first President) and a framer (as one of the leaders who initiated the Constitutional Convention). However, some men were framers but not founders, or vice versa. Patrick Henry, for example, was clearly a founder, but he fought against the adoption of the Constitution, so he can't be considered a framer.

Having said that, the core group of men who were at the center of both groups is pretty obvious, and includes not only Washington but Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay, among others. Therefore, the terms "framer" and "founder" are often used interchangeably and usually denote this core group of famous individuals.

Where Did The Course Calendar Go? [12.07.07]

As of December 4, lessons will no longer be posted to the Course Calendar and it will be removed from the Course Page. If you rely on the Course Calendar, please find an alternative method for accessing your lessons, such as the Lesson Overview feature or simply working your way down the list of lessons on the Course Page. Thank you!


Wrapping Up the First Marking Period [11.07.07]

Today is officially the last day of First Marking Period. However, for those who need some more time, there is a grace period that extends to November 14. You must have all your First Marking Period assignments turned in by that time. 

The easy way to keep track of what is due in U.S. Government is to look for the S links. An "S" before a lesson title lets you know that there is something to submit. If there is a graded assignment due in this course, you will see an S link for it. (One word of caution: the S links do not make much sense if you do not read the "L" (for "lesson") links that precede them!)

After each lesson title, you will notice a due date. For First Marking Period, you can turn in assignments after the listed due date; in fact, you can turn in any assignment up to the final day (November 14) without a penalty. The purpose of the listed due date was to keep you on track through the marking period.

Here is a list of all of the First Marking Period assignments for U.S. Government. Any of them can be turned in as late as November 14 without penalty. Please let me know if you have any questions about any of them.

S 1.1 The Big Picture
S 1.2 Why America?
S 1.5 Two Stories from China, Part II
S Constitution Day Assignment
S 1.12 English Roots of the American Revolution, Quiz
S 2.11 The Rule of Law, Test
S 2.15 The Holy Experiment, Part III
S 2.20 First Quarter Exam
S 2.21 The Reading Journal

Be aware that the last two assignments, S 2.20 and S 2.21, are biggies! Plan your time accordingly.


The Beginning of Second Marking Period [11.07.07]

If you look at the Course Outline, you will notice that Chapter 3 has just been created and an overview lesson has been posted. Chapter 3 is where Second Marking Period begins, and the lesson due dates begin with November 12.

If you are still finishing up First Marking Period work, I don't want you to be distracted or panic. You will see more lessons being posted in Chapter 3, but you should wait to begin working on them until you have finished everything from First Marking period (which is to say, everything in Chapters 1 and 2).

On the other hand, if you are finished with First Marking Period, you may certainly get an early start on Second Marking Period if you would like.


How to Create a Venn Diagram [10.26.07]

Some assignments in your Reading Journal involve doing the graphic organizer question (usually question #1) at the end of a section in your textbook. It is always fine to set this up as a simple list. However, if you want to "take it up a notch", you can try your hand at creating a graphic organizer in Word.

Basically, the key is to get familiar with the drawing tools in Word. To get started, try creating a Venn diagram, one of the most basic and useful graphic organizers.

The best instructions I have found on creating a Venn diagram can be found here. Follow them carefully and you should be fine. You will also get practice at using the drawing tools and will feel more confident creating other kinds of graphic organizers on your own.

I would recommend setting up a sample Venn diagram and then saving it as a template (see step 13). This will allow you to build off the same diagram over and over again, instead of having to build from scratch each time.

Calling All Political Junkies [10.24.07]

We have not yet reached our unit on politics; that will come in third quarter. However, all around us the struggle to decide who will be the next President of the United States is heating up. We will talk more about it soon, but in the meantime, if you enjoy politics at all, you might enjoy this handy online game. It asks you 11 questions and then calculates which Presidential candidate is closest to your views. You may be shocked to see the results -- I know I was!

To go to the site, click here.

Greece Trip -- Summer 2008 [10.23.07]

Do you love ART and History?
Click on the link below to learn about the PALCS trip to Greece!

How to Succeed in U.S. Government [10.12.07]

  • Read the Daily Announcements every day. They are short and contain critical info.
  • Expect and do a lesson every day.
  • Do the whole lesson. Don't skim. Click all the links.
  • Keep track of long-term due dates.
  • Turn in your assignments on time.
  • Come to Office Hour and Chat for help.

Finding the Founding Documents [10.11.07]

We have learned much in recent lessons about the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. You may have wondered where you can find the documents themselves. One way is to look in the back of your textbook. Another way is to look online. If you prefer the online method, you may want to check out the National Archives website, which does a good job of presenting the documents themselves, along with some helpful tools for understanding them. To go to the site itself, click here.

The Rule of Law and Other Key Concepts [10.04.07]

Below is a great website that does a nice job summing up some of the key ideas of American Government. It's a great reference -- a place to look if you need a quick refresher on one of the terms we use. To go to the site itself, click here.

What do the lesson titles mean? [10.02.07]

You may have noticed that the lesson titles have a lot of letters and numbers associated with them. For example:

(MP 1) L 1.5 Two Stories from China, Part II [Due 09.17.07]

Here is what they mean:

"(MP 1)" simply means that this lesson falls within marking period 1 (which is the same as saying first quarter or unit 1).

"L" means "Lesson". Some links have an "S" instead; the S stands for "Submission". If there is an S, you know that there will be something you will need to submit. If there is an L, you will have something to read, and perhaps an assignment to do, but you won't use that link to submit anything.

"1.5" indicates the chapter/lesson number. In this case, it's the fifth lesson of chapter 1. Notice that some lessons may be made up of more than one link. The key is to keep your eye the little chapter/lesson number. If there are several items with the same number, you need to do them all together as part of your daily lesson.

"Stories from China" is the name of the lesson.

"Part II" indicates that this is part of a lesson series. Not all lessons are grouped as a series, but some are.

"[Due 09.17.07]" indicates the due date for the lesson.

The Excitement of the Revolution [10.01.07]

For those who are inspired not only by the ideas of the American Revolution (which is our focus in this course) but also the events and personalities of the war itself, the following is a little diversion into that fascinating period. Click here to go the site itself.

Preparing for a Quiz or Test [09.24.07]

Quizzes and tests are a little different in the cyber environment. For one thing, they are almost always open-book, open-note, and open-screen. What that means is that the quiz was designed with assumption that you have all of your resources and lessons in front of you and can review them as you take the quiz. For that reason, you should make the most of things: get your book out, open up the lessons in Moodle, etc. To make it easier to refer to the lessons, you may want to print them out before taking the quiz. Another option is to open several browser windows and bring up Moodle in each; that way you can have the quiz open in one window while looking at lessons in the other.

In one sense, cyber quizzes are the same as all quizzes: it really helps to study the material before you take it. If you have not read the appropriate lessons or textbook sections yet, do yourself a favor: read first, then take the quiz. It's a lot easier that way.

Finding the Scan Texts [09.21.07]

You may be having difficulty finding the scanned pages from their textbook. The instructions in the lesson say:

You will need your textbook, United States Government: Democracy In Action (2008 edition). If you don't have your textbook yet, click on the resource entitled "Scan Text U1 C1 S3". That resource should be listed, directly underneath this lesson, on your US Government course page. A new window will appear containing the full text of today's textbook section.

By "US Government course page", I am referring to this:

To find the scanned text, look under Unit 1: Why America. At the bottom of the list of lessons and assignments (the links in red), you should a link called "Scan Text", followed by specifics as to which section of the textbook it is scanned from. Click on this and you should see your textbook pages open up. If for some reason this doesn't work for you, be sure to schoolmail me and I'll be glad to help.

Are You Checking Daily Announcements? [9.20.07]

This webpage has useful resources and postings on it, but to stay current with everything that is going on in US Government, you need to click on the Daily Announcements link. I will generally add a new announcement each day.

An Early Peek [9.18.07]

As we move into lessons on the government of colonial America in the next few weeks, we will be accessing some of the very good web sites that relate to Pennsylvania in particular. (Did you know that the government of PA is over 300 years old -- much older than the government of the United States?) Below is an early peek of one of those sites. Click here to go the site itself.

Our New Look [9.17.07]

Did you notice that our course has a little different look? I have been taking some different themes out for a spin, and I think that I like this one, called "Chameleon". I may make some changes to it, but I think we will keep it for a while. (Being able to change themes is one of the nice things about teaching and learning in Moodle.) What do you think of Chameleon? Do you like it? Let me know.

The Glencoe Web Site [9.14.07]

Glencoe, the company that publishes our U.S. Government textbook, has some interesting resources on its website that you might enjoy browsing:

Click here to go to website itself.

Submitting Lessons [9.13.07]

Some students have asked about the first few lessons that are posted in U.S. Government, specifically with regarding to submitting a response.

Not to worry. These are informational lessons, and your response is just a check to make sure you are able to read it.

If you have not responded to one of the lessons you did previously, go back and do it now. There will be no late penalties.

Just follow these instructions, which are now at the bottom of each assignment:

Once you have read the lesson, including the story, click the Edit My Submission button. Then type "I read it" in the response box and then click the Save Changes button at the bottom of the page. After you have submitted it, you should receive a brief response from me within a few days. If you don't, let me know.

You can also use the submit box to ask me any questions you have about the lesson or the course.

At this point, don't worry about grades, late penalties, and the like. The focus is just on getting the system running.