Rowena Aldridge
Phone:  615-305-7673

Office hours:  
Wednesdays 10:00 am - 11:30 am
Friday Skypes by appointment



  • Wide-ruled composition notebook
  • Pencil, sharpener, eraser
  • Ink pen with blue or black ink
  • Sticky notes:  pink, yellow, blue, green,  2”x2”, or 3”x3”
  • The Everything American Government Book”, by Nick Ragone.



Course description:
American Civics is a year-long, project-based, differentiated instruction course covering the basics of United States citizenship and government.  We will examine the structure and function of federal, state, and local government, with an emphasis on how the individual participates to fulfill the role of citizen.

The Fall semester will consist of project-based activities in which we will explore the American political process by monitoring political campaigns, issues, debates, public opinions, and election outcomes at local, state, and national levels.  The Spring semester will focus on topics such as how power and responsibility are shared with and limited by the US government, the impact of American politics on world affairs, and how the American legislative process compares to other systems around the world.   Activities will include group and independent research, case studies, current events, and summary projects throughout the course.

Discussions and activities will be structured to ensure that competing ideas are shared in a safe and respectful environment, using Roberts Rules of Order as a guide for formal debate.

You will spend 3-5 hour per week on coursework outside of class, depending on your individual pace.  This time will include assigned reading, completing and submitting homework, responding to homework review comments, revision of any work as needed, developing and completing a project in collaboration with your classmates for each semester.

Final projects:
Rather than discrete mid-year and final projects, the class as a whole will develop a student government over the course of the year.  The products of this project will be the foundational documents, historical record, and event memorabilia created by the institution and implementation of this governmental body.   These items will be presented in gallery walk format on the last day of each semester.  Grading of the project will be done in stages, and will include individual and group self-reporting.


REVISED HOMEWORK POLICY:  Effective Wednesday, August 24, 2016
Homework for each week is posted on the WEBsite no later than 9:00 am on Thursday mornings.  Students are responsible for checking the WEBsite for assignments and supporting material.  The deadline for completing each week's assignment is the following Wednesday morning at 10:00am.  Please drop your composition notebook into the designated basket before going to your morning class.  I will review your work during that block.  Please retrieve your notebook from the basket before going to lunch.

Past homework assignments will be archived for reference on the WEBsite until the end of the academic year.

Occasionally the assignment will include visiting links online.  Please click the links in the presence of your own parent or guardian.


Academic Integrity:
Your original and best effort is required at all times.  While collaboration on ideas is expected and encouraged, you must submit your own work using your own words.   You must obtain all information by ethical means.  If your work includes anyone else’s words, images, or ideas, you must include proper citation that acknowledges the source.  If you work on a project with others, you must provide proper acknowledgement of their contributions.  


Absences and Missed Assignments:
There is no grade penalty for missing a class.  Whenever possible, please notify me in advance so I will know you will be absent.  Together we can arrange for you to make up any assignments.


Cancelled Classes:
In the event a class is cancelled, the lesson and homework assignment for that week will be posted on the WEBsite no later than 8:00 pm on the evening of the cancelled class.  Students are responsible for checking the WEBsite and following instructions, including submission of homework.


In an effort to make grading more meaningful and useful, I am now using responsive grading rather than a letter, percentage, or point system.  Should you or your parents/guardians need a specific grade to record for transcript purposes, please let me know and I will share a method for calculating a grade.  

Responsive grade scale:

  • IMPRESSIVE.  Work is admirable in quality, scope, maturity, etc.
  • GOOD.  Work demonstrates above average effort and exceeds expectations.
  • ADEQUATE.  Work is complete and meets all criteria set out in the assignment.
  • INCOMPLETE.  Work is missing important components.
  • NG.  No grade issued.   Conference required.

There are no scheduled quizzes, tests, or exams in this course.  Grades will apply to submitted homework assignments and class contributions.


Contact policy:
I am available by email or by private message on Facebook.  I am not available by text at any time, however I am available during office hours via phone call or Google Hangouts.


Scope of study.  Subject to adjustment.
As this course based on current events, the exact schedule of study is fluid.

Fall Semester:  Survey of the US Election Process


  • Difference between Federal and state governments
  • Constitutional requirements for Presidents
  • Terms, oaths, responsibilities, limits of power


  • Who can legally vote?  
    • 15th Amendment
    • 19th Amendment
  • Jim Crow laws
  • How does one become a registered voter?
  • How does one lose the right to vote?

Party System

  • History of parties in the US
  • Current party system

Presidential election process

  • Qualifying to run
  • Campaign finance
  • Media and political advertising
  • Primaries and caucuses
  • National conventions
  • General election
    • First-past-the-post
  • Electoral college
  • Inauguration
  • Peaceful transfer of power


Spring Semester:  Survey of US federal legislative process

  • Branches of government
  • History of Congress
  • Bicameral structure
  • Constitutional requirements for membership
  • Apportionment of representation
  • 3 /5 compromise
  • Congressional powers granted by the Constitution (expressed, implied)
  • Non-legislative functions
  • Term lengths and limits
  • Election cycles
  • How a bill becomes law
  • Checks and balances
  • How the Constitution is amended