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Course Syllabus



2014-2015 EXPECTATIONS AND PROCEDURES Mr. Todd F. Cammarata - Room 206

Email: [email protected] Twitter: @tfcammarata

School phone: (814) 684-4240 ext. 3206

Civics: The study or science of the privileges and obligations of citizens. As you can see, the formal definition of civics is very broad and subject to interpretation. In fact, one of the goals of this class will be for you to define “privileges and obligations” for yourself. The specific topics that we cover are partly dictated by state standards and requirements, and partly influenced by my own expertise and experience. Specifically we will cover following topics: basic principles of government, the origins of our federal system, important founding documents such as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, federalism, political parties, voting and the electoral process, thee three branches of government, the role of the media and interest groups in public life, recent American history (with an emphasis on 9/11 and post 9/11 US history) and current events as they unfold throughout this school year, with particular emphasis on the 2016 presidential race. I truly believe that this is one of the most important classes you will take in high school. No matter what path you choose after high school, no matter what level of income or education you attain in your adult life, as Americans we all share the same rights and are subject to the same responsibilities. In addition to the content (which, let’s be honest, most of you will not remember for the rest of your lives!) you will learn to better read, write, think, listen, deliberate, communicate, and work effectively with others. These are skills that everyone needs in order to be successful. They will stay with you far longer than any specific name, date or definition that you encounter in this class. You will be asked to develop and question your opinions on a wide variety of topics. These opinions will have to do with your rights, the law, current events, public policy or other subjects of public debate. Sometimes your opinions will be challenged – either by me or by other students in the class. You will be asked to consider the other side(s) of whatever issue we are discussing. Please understand that when we do this, the purpose is not to cause conflict, start an argument, or convince you that you are wrong. You are entitled to our own opinions and as your teacher it is not my place to change your beliefs and opinions. However, it is my job to develop your critical thinking skills and to practice one of the most important skills necessary in a democracy – the ability to peacefully and respectfully disagree with our fellow citizens.

Required materials 1.

Chromebook. I am very excited to work on the transition from a paper and pencil/textbook driven learning environment to a digital classroom environment. One of the most exciting things about this year will be the opportunity to use technology, try new things and find new and better ways of learning and sharing what we have learned through technology. However, as we do this I will make mistakes and so will you, but we will all learn together. Forgetting your Chromebook or failing to have a charge will result in a loss of class participation/responsibility points. There are only three usable outlets in this room. If students make a habit of not charging their computers at home it will become a serious classroom distraction. So please be responsible - bring your fully charged Chromebook every day.


A three ring binder. Maybe next year’s class won’t need this, but since the Chromebooks are still pretty new to me there will still be a lot of paper coming your way, at least for a while. So please get a 1½ - 2 inch thick binder for this class by the end of next week. This will be a graded assignment. If this presents a legitimate financial burden for you and your family please see me privately and I will get you a binder at little or no cost.


Pen or pencil. If you forget one, I do have a limited number of pens/pencils that may be borrowed before the start of class. Please do not wait until class has started to ask for a pen/pencil.


American Government textbook. Our transition to a digital environment will be gradual, so we will still use a textbook in this class. We won’t use it every day, but it needs to be available to you at all times. So please bring it to class.


What do I expect of you? In order for this class to run smoothly and successfully, several things must happen. You must: 1.

Be on time and ready to learn. Please arrive with the materials you need, personal conversations paused and restroom business done. Find your seat, get your materials out and be ready for class. • DO NOT stand around waiting for me to ask you to find your seat. • DO NOT switch seats or move to another seat without permission. • DO NOT put your books down, leave the room and come back just as the late bell rings. • DO NOT line up by the door at the end of the class period. Wait for the bell or the teacher to dismiss class. • DO NOT ask to leave the room during the first or last five minutes of the class period.


Maintain a positive attitude. Your education is very important and I will do everything I can to help you to be successful. If you follow directions, do your work, and try your best then I guarantee success will follow. In fact, I can tell you that NEVER has a student who does those things failed this class. Don’t get frustrated, don’t give up. If you have a question or need help, just ask.


Be courteous and respectful to those around you. I will respect you and I expect the same in return. Do not talk while I or others are addressing the class. There will be plenty of opportunities for you to talk in pairs and small groups in this class. You will not be expected to be silent in this class for 45 minutes a day, five days a week. However, when I am giving direct instruction or addressing the class I expect your attention. The same goes for when one of your peers is speaking during a small group or whole class discussion. Disrespectful speech/actions that harass, bully or discriminate against others based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, economic background, age, appearance, religion or ability will not be tolerated. BE RESPECTFUL. 15% of your grade is determined by class participation/responsibility (see page four). Always follow the TAHS student code of conduct. Remember that you are not the only one to use school property. Computers, books, desks and other school property must be treated with care and respect. Keep your hands and objects to yourself. Don’t write in the textbooks, on the desks or other school property.

Classroom policies and daily routines 1.

Each time you are late to class you lose two class participation/responsibility points. After three recorded late arrivals within a nine week period you will also be referred to Dean of Students and issued a detention. Also, as stated in the student code of conduct, if you are late by seven minutes or more without a pass, this is considered a class cut and will be written up as such.


If you are talking when you are not supposed to, distracting others in any way, you will lose class participation/responsibility points. If this becomes a habit, you will also be referred to the Dean of Students.


Find your seat, get out your bellringer sheet and any other materials you may need for class. If you need to borrow a pen/pencil, I will lend you one, but please do so at the beginning of class and return it at the end.


Read the daily agenda on the white board. The objectives and procedures listed will tell you specifically what we will be doing each day.


Answer the daily “bell ringer” question. As you arrive to class on most days there will be a question projected on the white board. This question or activity may introduce the day’s lesson, review previously taught material, or get you to think about an important topic. Copy the question on your weekly bell ringer sheet and answer it as soon as you sit down. The bellringer sheets will be collected at the end of each week for a grade.


Homework. If you had homework from the previous day, get it out at the beginning of the period. I will either collect it or walk around the room to check your work.

Hall pass procedures (restroom, locker, and other destinations) First and Last Five Minute Rule: The first five minutes of class are especially important because I need a few moments to take attendance and answer student questions. You are responsible for getting materials ready, reading the agenda and answering the bellringer question. The last few minutes of class are used to review, close the lesson, and get ready for the transition to the next period. Therefore you may not use the hall pass during these times. Any other time during the period you will be permitted to use the hall pass if necessary.


Procedure for using the hall pass: 1.

Generally speaking you may not go anywhere during the first five minutes or the last five minutes of class.


If you need to leave the room, go to the hall pass station by the door, fill out a hall pass request slip and bring it to me. You usually do not need to raise your hand or interrupt class in any way to do this.


Make sure you fill the form out completely and legibly. I will not issue hall passes to students who scribble their names or fail to fill out the form completely.


Bring your completed slip to me. I will write a regular green hall pass or you may take the green LAV pass from the hook on the wall next to the door. Please put the LAV pass back where you found it when you return. All destinations other than the restroom will require a green pass filled out by me.


Only one student will be allowed to use the restroom at a time. If another student is out with the hall pass you must wait until they return before you may leave.

Overuse of the hall pass privilege interrupts your learning and can disrupt the learning of those around you. Therefore every hall pass issued after your 6th in any nine week period will cost you five participation/responsibility points. Students who never need to use the hall pass will receive a class participation bonus at the end of the nine weeks. Note: Hall passes issued from other teachers, counselors, the main office, guidance office, and emergency or regularly scheduled trips to the nurse’s office will NOT count toward your six hall pass limit.

Chromebooks/Cell Phones/Other Electronic Devices The TAHS student code of conduct does not allow the use of electronic devices during school hours unless permission is SPECIFICALLY given by the teacher to use the device. I am very excited to utilize the Chromebooks as much as possible this year. However, just because you have this computer with you does not mean that you have permission to use it any time you choose. Only have your Chromebook out if you are specifically told that you may do so. I should not see phones out at any time unless specific permission is given by me for a specific purpose. If I see a device being used without permission or being used for non-class related purposes I will first automatically subtract 5 points you’re your class participation grade. If it happens frequently it will result in a disciplinary referral and I will confiscate the device and send it to the Dean’s office.

Academic Honesty Students caught cheating and /or plagiarizing (and this includes copying another student’s homework assignment) will at minimum receive no credit for that assignment. If you give another student your homework to copy right at the beginning of class and I see this as I am checking homework, the zero will apply to both students. Cheating on a major assignment and/or tests will also result in a discipline referral.

Absences If you miss class for any reason you are responsible to do the following when you return: 1.

Copy and complete the “bell ringer” from the day(s) you were absent. Get it from your partner or another classmate at the beginning of class. For bellringers, this is not considered cheating or copying.


Turn in any assignments that may have been checked or collected while you were absent. My “in box” for assignments that are turned in after the deadline is the dark wooden box on the front table. If you miss the day we take a test, expect to take the test the day you return. If you miss the day a major project is due, you must turn in the project the day you return or you will lose points.


Anything assigned while you were absent should be completed as soon as possible – preferably within 2 days after your return. Tests/quizzes may be made up before/after school, during my planning period or during advisory. Unless your absence was extended, any work not made up by the end of the week following your absence will permanently become a zero.


Excused vs. Unexcused absences. In the event of any excused absence, you will receive full credit for work made up by the above deadlines. However, if your absence is deemed UNEXCUSED by the attendance office, or if you have a pass from another teacher but fail to receive prior permission from me to miss this class, or if you cut this class, you will receive a zero for any work assigned or graded on that day. The unexcused absence report is sent by the attendance office every Wednesday. If your name is on this report for a day that a homework or in class grade was earned, that grade will be changed to a zero. If you have an unexcused absence on the day of a major test or project, your grade will be reduced by one half. By the school policy, I cannot change this grade unless I am specifically told to do so by the Dean of Students.

Late Assignments Late homework/in-class assignments will earn ½ credit. Homework is considered to be "on time" only if it is done at the beginning of the period. Late homework assignments that are only partially completed will not be accepted. Please don’t try to get your homework from the previous day done at the beginning of class by copying another student’s work. If you are caught doing this both students will receive a zero for the assignment. Large graded assignments such as projects and papers may be turned in late, but with a 10% penalty for each day late. The maximum late penalty for major projects or papers is 40%. I will however, post a final due date after which the assignment can no longer be turned in for any credit whatsoever. If you miss that deadline, the permanent grade will be a zero.

Grading Policies 85% of your grade will be determined by the total points earned in the following categories: Quizzes and tests: Short quizzes may be given to check your understanding on individual lessons or chapter sections. Some (but not all) chapters will conclude with an exam. These tests will typically consist of multiple choice, matching, fill in the blank, short answer and/or essay questions. They are typically worth between 20-40 points. Projects: Some chapters will conclude with a project that focuses on a particular concept or topic central to the chapter. These projects will vary greatly in their scope and value. Some will be short individual or group projects worth about 1/5 of an exam grade; others will be major projects worth more than a chapter test. Projects turned in late will lose 10% (a letter grade) per day late. Homework/In-class assignments: Homework/In-class assignments will sometimes be spot checked for completion and other times will be collected and checked. Most homework and in-class assignments will be worth 10 points. Late homework assignments will only receive one-half credit. Bell ringers: Given every day as a normal routine unless we are working on an extended project or are very short for time on a particular day. Before class begins write down the question and your answer for the bell ringer on the bell ringer sheets that can be found in the front of the room. If you are absent it is your responsibility to get the questions that you missed. Bell ringer questions are worth 2 points each and the sheets will be collected and graded at the end of each week. Note: Please keep all graded assignments, projects, and homework papers in your binder until the chapter or unit is complete and the grades are finalized. In the event of a grading error I cannot add or change a grade without proof (in the form of a graded paper) that an error has occured.

15% of your grade will be determined by the total points earned for class participation/responsibility: You are expected to make a positive contribution to this class. You must be respectful, cooperative, and maintain a positive attitude. The system that I use to determine grades for responsibility and class participation is measurable, objective and set up as much to recognize positive contributions as it is penalize negative ones. Your base grade for class participation is a 90% (an “A-”). However, depending on your contributions to this class, your individual class participation/responsibility grade will rise, fall or stay the same. See the chart on the next page for examples of how I assess class participation. Note: I do not update the class participation grades on a daily basis. It may take a week or two for changes in your class participation grade to be reflected in your grade as posted online.


Commonly used Codes for Class Participation/Responsibility Grades Code L Late BR Bell ringer U Unprepared Q Question

Loss of Points

Additional Points Earned

• Student was late to class (-2 points per late) • Note: After every three occurrences a discipline referral will be sent to the Dean of Students. • No binder on desk at the beginning of the period • Student not working on “do now” at the bell • Student failed to bring required material to class • Student did not open book/binder/or other material when asked

Students who are never late to class will receive bonus participation points at the end of the nine weeks

Students who make unusually insightful or relevant answers or comments in response to the daily bell ringer questions Students who never receive an unprepared deduction will receive bonus points at the end of the nine weeks Student often asks quality, relevant question(s) that help the class to better understand the topic Student consistently volunteers to answer questions Student regularly offers insightful or thoughtful answers Student takes risks and tries to answer tough questions, even if they are unsure of the answer Student goes above and beyond to help a fellow student, teacher or staff member Student volunteers to perform an extra duty or help a classmate

• • • • •

A Answer

C Conscientious

SLEEP Posture/Sleeping

TO “Talking out” D Disrespectful

OT Off topic / Off task DB Disruptive Behavior LANG Inappropriate Language PHONE Cellphone violation

COMP Computer violation

• • Student could/would not maintain eye contact with the teacher/presenter/video during the lesson • Student slouched or turned around in his/her chair • Student slept in class or had head down on desk • Repeated instances will also result in referral to the guidance councilor for assistance. • Student speaks without raising hand or waiting to be recognized • Student answers without giving others a chance to respond or talks over other students • Student speaks disrespectfully to another student, teacher or staff member • Serious and/or repeat violations will also result in a referral to the Dean of Students • Student repeatedly made irrelevant or off topic questions or comments that detract from the lesson • Student was working on something other than the assigned activity • Serious and/or repeat violations will also result in a referral to the Dean of Students • Any form of disruptive or inappropriate behavior • Talking with others at inappropriate times • Serious and/or repeat violations will also result in a referral to the Dean of Students • Student uses profanity or abusive language or gestures in the classroom (also will result in a automatic referral to the Dean) • Student is being argumentative with other students

Student always maintains good academic posture throughout class

Student is always attentive and engaged in the lesson

Students who rarely or never leave the room will receive extra points at the end of the marking period.

Students with perfect attendance for a nine week period will receive bonus participation points at the end of the nine weeks

• Cell phone is in plain sight, vibrates, rings - student uses phone or text messages during class (5 point deduction) • Student has headphones/ ear buds on or in his/her ears during class • Repeated violations will result in the device being sent to the Dean’s office along with a discipline referral. • Student is playing games or visiting websites unrelated to the lesson • Student is handling the computers in a careless manner • Student is doing anything that violates the school acceptable use policy

HP Excessive Hall Pass Use

• After hall pass #6 in any one marking period, each subsequent hall pass will result in a - 5 participation points

V Vandalism

• Student is writing or drawing on the desk, wall, or other school property • Student defaces any school property • This will also result in an automatic discipline referral

AB Absent


Midterm & Final Exam In addition to the four marking period grades, you will also have a midterm and final exam that will be averaged with your period grades and count as 1/5 of your final course grade. 1.

Midterm Exam This test will be a multiple choice exam covering all the major concepts from the first semester. Study guides and review materials will be provided at a later date to help you to prepare for this exam. Honors Class: Your Midterm Exam grade will be determined by grades earned on your National History Day project, which we will do in addition to the regular curriculum. More information on this will be provided at a later date.


Final Exam - Observing Local Government Project Your final exam will be a performance based assessment for which you will be required to attend and report on a local government meeting. More information on this project will be provided to you at a later date.

Emergency Evacuation Route Unless it is unsafe to do so, when we evacuate the room for fire drills or actual an actual emergency, we will use the following route: 1.

Exit classroom door


Turn right


Go down the stairwell at the end of the hall to the main lobby


Exit through main office lobby doors


Look for the teacher outside. I may take roll in the parking lot to ensure that all students are safely out of the building.

Mr. McNitt

SAP Office

Mrs. Redinger

Girls Lav

Boys Lav

To middle school hall

Attendance & Dean’s Office

Evacuation Route

Room 206 Mr. Cammarata EXIT ROOM & TURN RIGHT

Mrs. Myers

Bub’s Office (School police)

Mrs. Burket

Stairwell To Main Lobby

NOTE: There will be a quiz on the policies and procedures included in this syllabus during the first week of school.



Course Syllabus

U.S. CIVICS 2014-2015 EXPECTATIONS AND PROCEDURES Mr. Todd F. Cammarata - Room 206 Email: [email protected] Twitter: @tfcammarata School...

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