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Social Studies Curriculum Social Studies - United States Government & Citizenship
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Course Introduction

The goal of this course is to foster informed, responsible participation in public life. Knowing how to be a good citizen is essential to the preservation and improvement of the United States. Upon completion of this course the student will understand the major ideas, protections, rights, structures, and economic systems that affect the life of a citizen in the United States. Additionally, students will practice the skills needed to conduct inquiries, weigh evidence, make informed decisions, and participate in political processes. This course should nurture desirable dispositions including a commitment to the American ideals of liberty, equality, opportunity, and justice for all. This course is recommended for seniors due to their proximity to voting age.

Foundational Practices for Civic Preparation
One of the fundamental purposes for public schools is the preparation of young people for participation in Americaís democratic republic. The future progress of our communities, state, nation, and world rests upon the preparation of young people to collaboratively and deliberatively address problems; to defend their own rights and liberties, as well as the rights and liberties of others; and to balance personal preferences with the common good. Social studies and history classrooms are the ideal venue to nurture civic virtue, consider current issues, practice acting civilly toward others, build a civic identity, and nurture global awareness. These skills, habits, and qualities of character will better prepare students to recognize and accept responsibility for preserving and defending the liberties secured by the Constitution.

To reach these ends, student should have ample opportunities to:

  • Engage in deliberative, collaborative, and civil dialogue regarding historical and current issues.
  • Apply knowledge of governmental structure, historical concepts, geographic interrelationships, and economic principles to analyze and explain current events.
  • Identify local, state, national, or international problems, consider solutions to these problems, and share their ideas with appropriate public and/or private stakeholders.
  • Develop and demonstrate the values that sustain Americaís democratic republic, such as open-mindedness, engagement, honesty, problem-solving, responsibility, diligence, resilience, empathy, self-control, and cooperation.
  • Engage in dialogue regarding American exceptionalism, in the sense of the special character of the United States as a uniquely free nation based on democratic ideals and personal liberty.

A Note on the Organization of the Utah Standards in All Core Areas
The United States Government and Citizenship core standards are organized into strands, which represent significant areas of learning within content areas. Depending on the core area, these strands may be designated by time periods, thematic principles, modes of practice, or other organizing principles.

Within each strand are standards. A standard is an articulation of the demonstrated proficiency to be obtained. A standard represents an essential element of the learning that is expected. While some standards within a strand may be more comprehensive than others, all standards are essential for mastery.


Core Standards of the Course


The framework of the United States Constitution and the functions of government are guided by principles essential for our way of life. An understanding of how these principles are applied in the rule of law, government, and politics is vital in order to be a responsible and effective citizen. Students need to be able to see how the ideals found in the Constitution are present in many of the issues of the day.

Possible Guiding Questions to Consider:

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U.S. GOV Standard 1.1:
Students will explain how documents, challenges, events, and ideas such as the rule of law, the social contract, compromise, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, Shays' Rebellion, and the Federalist Papers significantly influenced the United States Constitution.

U.S. GOV Standard 1.2:
Students will describe the structure of the United Statesí form of government as a compound constitutional republic, including the ideas of federalism; checks and balances; separation of powers; commerce, elastic, and supremacy clauses; popular sovereignty; and limited government.

U.S. GOV Standard 1.3
Students will explain the organization, functions, and processes of the United States government, such as the purpose of the Presidentís cabinet, the function of judicial review, and how a bill becomes a law, and apply that understanding to current issues.


American citizenship brings with it civil liberties, civil rights, and responsibilities. Students must know their rights and responsibilities and understand the extent of those rights. Students should be able to defend their own rights and the rights of others, understanding that the Constitution and its amendments extend protections to individuals who may not share their views. Our nationís future rests on the ability and willingness of every generation to fulfill their civic responsibilities.

Possible Guiding Questions to Consider: