Advanced Placement Government and Politics Summer Assignment

Advanced Placement Government and Politics Summer Assignment

Advanced Placement Government and Politics Summer Assignment

Due: Assignments 1 & 3 e-mailed to by 9am Wednesday July 15, 2015

Assignments 2 &4 will be checked on the first day of school 2015

The summer assignment serves two purposes: 1 – to discern students who are prepared for the challenge and willing to put forth the effort and engage completely in order to learn and pass the exam and 2 – get a jump start on the multitude of content knowledge necessary to pass the exam.

If you tend to complain about the workload and try to get by with minimal effort, this is not the class for you. However, if you enjoy a challenge, like to set yourself apart from the norm, and have a good work ethic – together we can get you some college credits. My job is to instruct you on how the exam is set up and the content that will be on it – I give you as much information, resources, and tools as I can to prepare yourself but YOU have to study and engage yourself. I am your assistant 

Assignment #1: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington or The Campaign Movie Assignment– 100 pts

This assignment will introduce you to the many topics covered in the class in an entertaining way. To complete the response paper successfully, you will have to jump into the textbook and learn about some of the basics. You should watch this movie complete the accompanying questions, and write a 2-3 page response paper.

Be specific and detailed and use vocabulary from your text. You are telling me how the movie illustrates the topics of the textbook.Include a cover page, type in 12 pt font with 1 inch margins and double space.

Assignment #2: Current Events Journal – 100 points

AP Government is more directly related to current events than any course you will take in high school. Everything that we will study relates to how politics and government works in modern America. Accordingly, knowledge of current political and governmental affairs will significantly help you to understand the things we study, and will, in fact, be necessary to succeed in the course. If you know what is going on in the country with respect to politics and government, you will do better in the course.

You should follow major current events by doing one or more of the following on as close to a daily basis as possible:

•Read either the print or online version of a major newspaper.

•Watch a national/international news broadcast (CNN, MSNBC, FOXNews, PBS, ABC, CBS, NBC, BBC World News) – not a local news broadcast.

•Read major newsmagazines or political journals (Time, Newsweek, US News and World Report, The Economist, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Christian Science Monitor, the London Times)

•Watch daily or weekly news/current affairs programming (Hardball, Meet the Press, Face the Nation, This Week, etc.)

During the course of the summer (beginning the week of July 6th), keep a current events journal. At the end of each week, type two paragraphs (minimum) about the major event or events in American government and/or politics from the past week. In the first paragraph, you should describe the event or events, and, in the second paragraph, you should analyze the significance of it/them and state any opinions, thoughts, or analysis that you might have about it/them. You must intelligently discuss one particularly important issue each week.

Your journal should deal with issues that are of significant importance to American politics and government. Such things include what the president is up to, what Congress is debating or legislation that they are passing, constitutional issues or major federal court decisions concerning them, debates over political issues in America, international crises or foreign policy issues that somehow affect the US or that our government must deal with, etc. Please see the attached sample forms as guidance.

Assignment #3 Constitution Study Guide(100 points)

Often, people claimto have “Constitutional” rights to this or that but, when pressed, cannot citewhere in the Constitution such a right or protection exists. In order tounderstand, effectively explore, and discuss our political system, ourgovernment, and politics in America today, every AP Government studentneeds to know what is “in” the Constitution.

What you need to do:

Understanding the Constitution is essential to this class, so please do your own work. We will be havYou should understandwhat is contained in each Article and Amendment. Complete the attached Constitutional Study Guide. I will also post this assignment online. Please make sure you email this by July 15, 2015.

Assignment #4 Current Leaders Identifcation (50 points)

Please complete the attached current leaders identification form. This will be taken up during the first week of school.

AP Government Notebook

All of the following must be completed to receive credit. Bring it on the first day of class.

Purchase one, 2-inch, 3-ring binder.

Make a cover for the binder that includes: AP Government & Politics, your name, academic year.

Purchase 9 tabbed dividers and neatly label them as follows:

1-Class Information

2-Summer Assignment

3-Unit #1: Constitutional Underpinnings

4-Unit #2: Political Beliefs and Behaviors

5-Unit #3: Civil Rights and Civil Liberties

6-Unit #4: Interest Groups, Parties and Media

7-Unit #5: The Institutions

8-Unit #6: Policymaking

9-AP Practice and Review

AP Government and Politics

Course Agreement

AP Government and Politics is a college level course established by the American College Board. AP stands for “advanced placement.” You may gain college credit if you pass the cumulative test given in May. For more information visit This class may also be counted as your 12th grade Civics requirement. The grades are weighted, which means an A=5, B=4, etc.

The class is challenging and requires much reading, writing, and studying to be done outside of the classroom. Remember, in college, for every hour you are in class, you are expected to do three hours of study. (12 hour schedule = 36 hours a week: This is why 12 hours in college is considered being a full-time student, full-time employment= 40 hours a week)

Much focus will be put on essay writing and content knowledge, as the AP Exam in May requires four free-response questions to be completed in 100 minutes. It also includes 60 multiple-choice questions to be completed in 45 minutes, for a total of 2 hours and 25 minutes. It is graded on a scale of 1-5 and you must score a 3 or above to pass and earn college credit. You MUST take the exam, it is not optional.

Much communication will be through Internet, so it is your responsibility to check your e-mail daily.

The summer assignment must be July 15, 2015. If this is not completed, you may be switched into a regular Civics course or receive a zero for the summer assignments. If you receive a zero for the assignments, it would make it very difficult to pass the 1st nine weeks grading period.

* I know that you will work together and that is fine: Know the difference between working together and cheating. At this point, you need to learn the material for yourself; you cannot cheat on the exam. This is not a class that you take just to pass or get a grade. If you split up the work and share with each other, take the time to explain it or teach it to each other. Ask questions and make sure YOU understand.

*Keep one copy for your records, you and your parent/guardian must sign a copy and return to me by ______in order to be put on the class roster. By signing below, you agree that you have read and understand the information above.

Parent/Guardian Signature______

Student Signature______


Name: ______Date: ______

The Campaign (2011)

This video is widely available on video and Red Box. This is an R rated film, please do not view this film if you or your parents would be uncomfortable. You may chose to view Mr. Smith Goes to Washington instead – the choice is yours.

1. Describe how the media was manipulated during The Campaign.

2. Compare and contrast the two main characters. What would be each of the two candidates platforms? (Ex. What would be their stand on gun rights, family values, religion, taxes, etc.?)

3. Do you feel that this movie accurately portrays modern day politicians? Why or why not?

4. What demographic would (Cam Brady) Will Ferrell’s character be more likely to target? Why?

5. What demographic would (Marty Huggins) Zac Galifianakis’ character be more likely to target? Why?

6. Describe how images of American symbolism are used throughout the movie.

7. Do you feel that “big money” influences campaigns like shown in this film? Why or why not?

8. What are values that people look for in political candidates?

After reviewing Chapters 11 – 15 in the textbook, type a 2 page response describing how accurately or inaccurately you think this movie portrays the current state of politics in the United States. Please be sure to incorporate relative terminology from the textbook. I will provide you with the online textbook after June 1, 2015. Please make sure I have your correct email address.

“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” Movie Guide

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is an 1939comedy/drama film starring James Stewart, about one man's effect on American politics. It was directed by Frank Capra, who would soon be more famous for the Christmas favorite “It’s a Wonderful Life” (also starring Stewart). Mr. Smith Goes to Washington was controversial when it was released for its depiction of corruption in American government, but also successful at the box office, and made Stewart a major movie star. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, winning for Best Screenplay.

Watch the movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington using this link: Please answer the questions that follow, and respond in detail to the six essay questions that follow. You should use clear and concise examples from the text in your essay responses. Utilize vocabulary from the text in your responses. You may adjust the lines for questions one through nineteen and answer on this sheet. Please submit all responses by Tuesday July 15, 2014. If you have completed The Campaign assignment, you do not need to complete this assignment.

Cast of Characters

Jefferson Smith / Main character, goes to Washington as Senator of his state
Senator Joseph Paine / The other Senator from “the state”, corrupt.
Governor Hubert "Happy" Hopper / Corrupt governor of “the state”—controlled by Jim Taylor’s political machine. Sends Mr. Smith to Washington
Chick McGann / Reporter—represents the press’ attitudes.
Susan Paine / Paine’s daughter, potential love interest.
Clarissa Saunders / Smith’s cynical aide and secretary who comes to believe in Smith—potential love interest
Jim Taylor / Powerful and wealthy political “boss”—runs “the state” behind the scenes. Corrupt.
Diz Moore / Smith’s Press Secretary; friend to Clarissa
Ma Smith / Smith’s ma
President of the Senate / Presides over the Senate and comes to believe in Smith’s efforts

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington Questions

  1. Who died at the start of the movie? Why is this significant? Who is responsible for appointed a person to the new position?
  1. Who is Joseph Paine?
  1. Who is Jim Taylor?
  1. Who is the initial choice for senator? How does the press respond?
  1. How does the governor decide who will be senator?
  1. What is the relationship between Jefferson Smith and Senator Paine?
  1. How does Mr. Smith react to Washington?
  1. Contrast the reaction of Mr. Smith to seeing the capital with the reaction of those with him.
  1. Why is Mr. Smith REALLY in Washington? What is he SUPPOSED to do? (According to those who appointed him.)
  1. How does Saunders feel about Mr. Smith initially? How does her view of him change at the end of the film?
  1. How does the media bias play a role in this film? Do we still see instances of this today?
  1. What do reporters tell him at the press club?
  1. How did Mr. Smith feel about his position at the start of the movie? How does he feel about it after the press club?
  1. How does Washington “look” now?
  1. How long does Mr. Smith’s filibuster last?
  1. What media is used in the movie to tell people what is going on? Who controls the media in this film?
  1. What is the “Jim Taylor Machine?”
  1. At the end, why does Senator Paine confess?
  1. Contrast Mr. Smith view of democracy at the beginning of the movie with the reality of democracy toward the end.

Essay Questions—answer these questions completely—complete sentences, complete thoughts. Your responses to these questions should be no less than two pages in length.

20. Using Chapter 14 – Describe how private ownership of the media affects this event, and what functions of the mass media are being portrayed?

21. Using Chapter 15 – Describe the role of interest groups in the movie, and discuss how interest groups influence modern politics (citing specific examples or groups).

22. Using Chapter 6 – Explain the role of committees in Congress, and describe how committees can hamper advance of policy.

23. Using Chapter 6 – Explain the role of the filibuster in Congress, and explain if you think Smith’s filibuster was a success. Why or why not?

24. Rand Paul, Republican Kentucky Senator, executed a filibuster in March 2013. Describe the issue of Paul’s filibuster and the results of his efforts. Please site at least two reputable sources for your response. Do you believe the filibuster works? Why or why not?

25. Do you believe that this movie accurately portrays American politics today? Why or Why not?



Over the course of the summer you are responsible for choosing four current event articles and interacting with them. You must briefly address the specifics of the article, but the main focus should be on an analysis of the importance of the issue addressed in the article. You should choose weighty articles, meaning that the article addresses meaningful or serious issues within the context of our course of study.

Assignment Topic Areas

The following six topic areas are the core of our course of study. Look for an article that addresses one (or more) of the following topics:

  • Constitutional Underpinnings
  • Considerations that influenced the formulation and adoption of the Constitution
  • Separation of powers
  • Federalism
  • Theories of democratic government
  • Political beliefs and behaviors
  • Beliefs that citizens hold about their government & its leaders
  • Processes by which citizens learn about politics
  • The nature, sources, and consequences of public opinion
  • The ways in which citizens vote and otherwise participate in political life
  • Factors that influence citizens to differ from one another in terms of political beliefs and behaviors
  • Political parties, interest groups, and mass media
  • Political Parties and elections
  • Functions
  • Organization
  • Development
  • Effects on the political process
  • Electoral laws and systems
  • Interest groups, including political action committees (PACs)
  • Range of interests represented
  • The activities of interest groups
  • The effects of interest groups on the political process
  • The unique characteristics and roles of PACs in the political process
  • The Mass Media
  • The functions & structures of the media
  • The impacts of media on politics
  • Institutions of national government *
  • the Congress, the Presidency, the Bureaucracy, and the Federal Courts
  • The major formal and informal institutional arrangements of power
  • Relationships among these four institutions and the following:
  • Public opinion and voters
  • Interest groups
  • Political parties
  • The media
  • Subnational governments (iron triangles)
  • Civil Liberties and Civil Rights *
  • The development of civil liberties and civil rights by judicial interpretation
  • Knowledge of substantive rights and liberties
  • The impact of the Fourteenth Amendment on the constitutional development of rights and liberties
  • Public Policy * (domestic or foreign)
  • Policymaking in a federal system
  • The formation of policy agendas
  • The role of institutions in the enactment of policy
  • The role of the bureaucracy and the courts in policy implementation and interpretation
  • Linkages between policy processes and the following;
  • Political institutions and federalism
  • Political parties
  • Interest groups
  • Public opinion
  • Elections
  • Policy networks

In particular look for articles that address

  • The Branches of Government (Congress, the Executive, the Judiciary)
  • Policy- Economic Policy, Foreign Policy, Social Welfare


  1. For every article you should select, read, and comment on a news article relative to the course topic area(s).
  2. Enter the article title, source (publication and date) on your Current Event Log.
  3. Clip or print the article and place it in the Current Event Section for placing in your binder.
  4. Your summary and commentary should be printed from your computer.

Summarize the article, briefly answering the following (as appropriate):

  • Who?
  • Where?
  • When?
  • What?
  • Why?

Your response may consist of:

  • Two reasonably-sized paragraphs in which you comment on what the article reveals to you about the topic and secondly, what information you may be lacking or what questions remain unanswered.
  • Another way to approach this is via a list (who, what, when, etc. and to make a t-chart. On the left side, labeled “What I Know,” enter the information your learned from the article. On the right side, labeled “What I need to know/learn/clarify,” enter terms and/or questions that arise from the reading. (See example)
  • Your assignment is due Wednesday, September 8th, the first day of class.

Acceptable Sources

You should use respected newspapers (New York Times,Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, Wall Street Journal, the Economist, as well as our local daily, The Seattle Times, or their online sources.