Civics and Government


In this course we will explore how the United States Government was formed. From Columbus to the Constitution we will explore primary source documents and historical commentary to piece together an understanding of the foundations and principles of American Democracy. We will explore theories of government as well as past and present issues related to democracy.  You will review your rights and responsibilities as a citizen, explore democracy in action, experience first hand what it means to participate in local, state, and national government, and design and undertake a service-learning project in teams or as a class.

Course Habits of Success

  • HS35B: Personal Integrity – Takes responsibility for actions, perseveres, and demonstrates honesty.
  • HS35D: Problem Solving -Applies problem-solving strategies to responsibly manage daily academic, environmental and social situations
  • HS35E: Conflict Resolution – Knows and applies strategies to peacefully resolve conflicts individually and within a group
  • HS36B: Adaptability – Demonstrates flexibility to learn, unlearn and relearn by changing focus and goals as the situation demands
  • HS36C: Preparedness  – Completes individual and group work using organizational strategies according to deadlines and expectations
  • HS36F: Citizenship – Contributes to the welfare of the classroom, school, and community, and participates in school and/or community service
  • HS37A: Curiosity – Asks questions,  seeks to understand why and values multiple perspectives
  • HS37B: Creativity – Generates new ideas and pursues alternative solutions supported by evidence
  • HS38E: Innovation- Identifies opportunities for innovation and collaboration
  • HS37D: Evidence – Utilizes inquiry to support ideas, conclusions, and solutions with valid evidence from active speaking, listening and reliable texts or media


Course Proficiencies

Primary Focus:

PBGR 9: Civics

Students will understand how governments function and the impact of government on people’s rights and responsibilities

HS9A: Analyze issues surrounding the basic principles, rights and responsibilities of American democracy and /or global citizenship

HS9B: Explain, evaluate and/or defend differing viewpoints on societal issues

HS9C: Evaluate how and why rules and laws are created, interpreted, and/or changed

HS9D: Evaluate how individuals and/or groups have brought about change

PBGR 10: Economics

Students will understand how humans, the environment, government and resources impact economic choices

HS10A: Evaluate how wants and needs impact decisions and outcomes

HS10B: Evaluate economic systems and their impact on cultures and/or societies

HS10C: Apply economic principles to develop and assess the effectiveness of a budget plan


Possible Add-ons:

PBGR 7 : Historical Thinking

Students use historical thinking to analyze how past and present interactions of people and cultures shape global communities

HS7A:  Explain historical origins of key ideas and concepts and how they are reinterpreted over time

HS7B: Analyze the impact of a current or historic issue related to human rights, and explain how the values of the time or place influenced the issue

HS7C: Evaluate the credibility of differing accounts of the same event(s) using primary and/or secondary sources

HS7D:  Understand why certain events are considered pivotal and how they cause us to revise historical periodization

Daily Rhythm

  • Do Now Protocol
  • Agenda Review/Check-in
  • Into: Introduction
  • Mini-Lesson: Content/Notes
  • Through: Practice and Hands-on Activity
  • Class Discussion or Group Work
  • Beyond: Reflections/Goal Planning
  • Collaborative Decision-Making
  • Extension/Next Steps
  • Exit Ticket
  • Closing Circle
Weekly Rhythm (in no particular order)

  • Historian’s Notebook
  • Slide Presentation
  • Music or Film
  • Primary Source Document Analysis
  • Research and Investigation
  • Harkness Discussion
  • On-Demand Essay
  • Collaborative/Team Projects
  • Creative Activities
  • Proficiency Check-ins
  • Self-Reflections and Goal Setting
  • Accountability Partner Check-ins and Support
  • Feedback, Reflection, and Class Problem-Solving
  • Celebrations of Learning


Democratic Classroom Model

A democratic classroom is one where teachers involve students, on a regular basis and in developmentally appropriate ways, in shared decision making that increases their responsibility for the classroom environment, the curriculum, and the learning process and products.  I will do my best to incorporate individual and collective voice and choice in all that we do as we work together to learn, grow, and achieve. We will hold classroom meetings as appropriate and will end each class period in Closing Circle, where we come together in the center of the room to share appreciations, apologies, and ah-has!  Because the democratic classroom model may be new to many of you, I will teach you the skills and processes necessary for its success. 


Teacher as Coach/Student as Worker Model


I will create experiences and opportunities to support your progress and ultimate success in learning the content and meeting the proficiencies.  

I will coach you along through that work with regular feedback and support.   

I will not hunt you down and nag you if you fall behind on assignments or lower my expectations based on your life circumstances.  I will, however, provide any accommodations outlined in individual education plans.   

I am responsible for making myself available to help you and for following up on all feedback and communication to the best of my ability. 

If I cannot provide the support you need, I will find someone who can. 


You are responsible for your own learning.  Meeting the course obligations is your choice.  You are also responsible for being a team player and contributing to class in a way that supports other people’s learning.

Your responsibility is to plan ahead and manage your workload so you stay on track and complete and submit all assignments on time.  You will be busy or have activities/events/drama that distract you or monopolize your time, but you are responsible for managing your time and making appropriate choices.  

You are responsible for respectfully advocating for yourself and communicating when you don’t understand something or need other resources/supplies to assist with your learning.  You may do this in person, via email, or through your advisor. 

You are responsible for following through with help/support requests and for monitoring your on-going progress in this class. 



Curricular Organization: I will do my best to scaffold our work together to help you make steady progress toward the proficiencies.  Because our proficiencies require you to demonstrate a significant amount of learning/understanding, assignments will be organized so that they build off each other.  Failure to complete preliminary or formative assignments will make success on summative assignments harder to achieve. Be sure you are staying up to date with all assignments as we go along; waiting until the last minute to complete work will not support your success in this class.   

Formative Assessment: Preliminary assignments which help me gauge your level of understanding and your needs as a learner.  These assessment results guide my instruction and help me determine who needs extra help/support, etc.  Formative assessments are critical to the learning/teaching process. 

Summative Assessment: Large culminating assignments which encompass extended learning.  Proficiency progress will be assessed through one or multiple summative assessments depending on the skill/knowledge assessed. 

Due Date: When the assessment is due.  If you hand work in at the due date I can provide you with feedback to assist in your progress.  You will then have time to revise and improve your work based on this feedback. Great learning happens through this process and it is essential to your growth/progress toward the proficiencies.  

Deadline: Non-negotiable end date for an assignment, typically 2 weeks after a due date.  In the “real world” there is little leniency for missed deadlines. Therefore, if you do not hand in your final work by the deadline it will not be accepted and you will receive a score of Beginning on all associated proficiencies. 

Proficiency Scales:

We will use the CVSU PBGR Scales to guide our proficiency work and assess progress.  As a class, we may further define or refine them so they are more helpful to our learning process and are more relevant to our work.  Generally, proficiency progression looks like this; and, I will use this language interchangeably:


You’re Getting Started.


You’re Making Progress!


You’ve GOT IT!!


You’re Taking it to the Next Level!!!


Cell Phones and Use of Technology: 

Phone use is distracting and gets in the way of learning. Therefore, according to the WMHS handbook, all cell phones must be either in your backpack or in a designated location in the classroom.  For your convenience, there is a charging station at the front of the room. If you do not use this charging station, your phone must be on silent in your backpack. It cannot be on your person and will not be used during class.  If anyone in the room is caught using a phone the entire class will get a warning. Any phone use (for any reason and by anyone) afterwards will result in that phone being confiscated for the remainder of the class period. If a student refuses to give up their phones it will result in an immediate office referral.  Students who consistently need warnings/reminders will be referred to the office, as well. Students needing communication with home for any reason should handle this through the office during passing period, lunch, advisory, or ELO time. 

Chromebooks will be used for all technology-related needs; the expectation is you will have yours charged and ready to use each class period.  There are three designated charging stations in the classroom and one spare chromebook if you your battery is low or you’ve forgotten yours. Chromebooks will not be used to charge cell phones.  If you need to charge your cell phone, please use the charging station at the front of the room.

Online Learning:

We will use different online programs and applications for this class such as Google Docs, SoundTrap, and Adobe Spark, as well as Actively Learn,, and the Library of Congress Archives/Document collections.  We may also use an online learning management system and a class blog. Course updates and proficiency progress will be communicated through this system as well as Tyler. You are expected to login and review these regularly and come to me with any questions or concerns.

Extra Help/Contacting Miller:

If you need are struggling to understand a concept and want extra help please sign up for English Language Arts Support; this will be offered by English teachers Monday through Thursday during ELO time.  If you cannot attend an ELO Support block, I will also be available to assist you before or after school or electronically via email.  Please send me a message to schedule this/make an appointment. Also, please email me at any point for any reason. I am here to support you and your learning in this class and I will do my absolute best to do so.  

Supplies Needed:

  • You will be issued a composition notebook.  You are responsible for having it with you every day and for turning it in when requested. 
  • You will need:  3-Ring Binder
  • Dividers
  • Loose-leaf Paper (there is some in the room)
  • Pen or Pencil

General Expectations:

  • Show up each day ready to learn and grow.  Leave the drama at the door or use it to fuel your work.
  • Come with the willingness to participate in something new.  If you’re not feeling it, do the best you can or find an approach to the task that works for you and your needs/interests, and allows you to stay present and in the learning environment. Communicate with me so I know your plan or alternative approach. I will do my best to support your needs. 
  • Take care of your needs and be present for as much of class as you can.  Keep bathroom and water breaks to a minimum. If you become a “Frequent Flyer” you will be put on a restricted pass plan.  
  • Do your best in each moment.  Some days a try is the best we have.  Be OK with that, nurture yourself, and strive always to improve from one day to the next.   
  • Engage with your peers and support them as they find their voice and go out of their comfort zone. 
  • Communicate with respect.  Resolve conflicts peacefully, proactively, and privately whenever possible.  Keep me in the loop so I can support you in this process.  
  • Bring all ideas/concerns to me immediately; I want to hear them and to help if I can.
  • Remember to honor confidentiality; but, know that if you say you’re going to hurt yourself, someone else, or that someone else is hurting you I will take this seriously and will report it.   
  • Relax, have fun, trust the process, and stick with it because you’re here for a reason, I care about you, I appreciate you, I believe in you, and even if you don’t think so: you’re worth it and your voice (and education) matters!!!!!