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Learning Experience/Unit

Demonstrating an Understanding the Evolution of Democracy in the United States by St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES

Grade Levels

Commencement, 12th Grade


Essay Test (AP format). Rubric for Essay Test

Learning Context/ Introduction

This is an Advanced Placement Government and Politics Course, therefore the students who take this course should have successfully completed the US History and Government course with a suggested overall average (regents included) of 90 or better.

This learning experience will draw from the US History and Government course and delve deeper into that content. This learning experience should be done in the beginning of the school year.

This is a follow up to the Learning Experience entitled, "The Evolution of American Democratic Values from its Birth to the Civil War" which is available on the NYLearns website.


Two days/ 40-minute periods

Essential Question

How has democracy in the United States changed and evolved from its birth to the present?

Instructional/Environment Modifications

Due to the research portion of Day 1, the library is recommended for hosting that class period.

Student should have online access.


Prerequisite: Students will have already covered the study of early American government including the Constitution and Federalism.


Pass out a notesheet that corresponds to the AP essay question. Instruct the students to prepare to answer an AP essay question about the evolution of democracy in the United States by organizing their thoughts on the note sheet. Have the students use resource materials (textbooks, library and online resources) to come up with the primary source examples. Before the close of the class period, have the students randomly exchange their note page with another classmate to elicit responses and new ideas.


On day two, the students will enter a mock testing environment. The students will be given the essay question along with the test instructions. The test reflects the AP format (timed 25 minutes).

  • Evolution of Democracy Note Sheet
  • Reflections and Feedback

    After grading the students' essay exams, it was obvious that the students had an in-depth understanding of the evolution of American Democracy up until the present. I believe this is because of all the frontloading of the information.

    Student Work

    The students must learn to write in the AP Government and Politics format which has the students write a multi-tasked essay within a twenty-five minute time frame based on their knowledge of American government and politics.

    See attached Sample Essays.

  • Samples of student work
  • Related Resource

    HARD SOURCES: Student Textbook: John J. DiIulio and James Q.Wilson, American Government, 8th ed.(Houghton Mifflin Company 2000)1-79. ISBN:0-618-04359-3764.

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