Course Example: AP US Government and Politics: Foundational Documents

Below is an example of a course held in summer 2021. 

The AP US Government and Politics test requires strong knowledge of nine documents considered to be foundational to American government. This course will focus on in-depth study and discussion of those nine documents. Each class will focus on one or two documents and examine their background, their message, and the impact each has had on American history and government. In addition, we will discuss how these documents might be used on the AP exam to increase students’ confidence preparing for the test.

Key Information

  • The course begins on Wednesday, June 30, 2021.
  • Classes will occur once a week for six weeks.
  • Classes will not meet on July 14.
  • Classes will begin at 4:00 p.m. ET/1:00 p.m. PT.
  • Weekly classes are 60 minutes in length on Zoom. These sessions will incorporate a combination of lectures, activities conducted on the Zoom chat, polls, Q&As, and discussions.

Intended Audience

This course is for high school students (grades 9–12). Parents, teachers, and other adults are welcome to attend the course but are asked not to participate in polls or submit discussion questions so that we may prioritize student learning.

Lesson Schedule and Registration

Registration is for the full 6-session course. Students must have a Gilder Lehrman account to register for a History School course. Create a free account here. Please follow the instructions on the registration page.

Once registered, students will be enrolled in the Gilder Lehrman Online Learning Community and have access to course content and materials.


Week  1 

Wednesday, June 30, 4:00–5:00 p.m. ET

“The Declaration of Independence”- This session will focus on what is arguably the foundational document, both a bold message sent around the world that these former British colonies would henceforth be free and an establishment of many of the founding principles of American government, including popular sovereignty and inalienable rights.

Week 2

Wednesday, July 7, 4:00–5:00 p.m. ET

“The Articles of Confederation”- This session will focus on the rationale and fatal flaws of the document that established the initial government of the United States in 1781, only to be replaced by the Constitution a mere eight years later.

Week 3

Wednesday, July 21, 4:00–5:00 p.m. ET

“The US Constitution”- This session will focus on a review of the Constitution, the foundation of American government and the longest surviving codified constitution in the world.

Week 4

Wednesday, July 28, 4:00–5:00 p.m. ET

“Brutus I v. Federalist 10”- In this session, students will compare the arguments for and against the stronger national government established by the Constitution.

Week 5

Wednesday, August 4, 4:00–5:00 p.m. ET

“Federalist 51, 70, 78”- This session will break down three of the famed Federalist Papers, each of which focuses on the arguments for the separation of powers and the effort to alleviate fears about the Executive and Judicial branches of government.

Week 6

Wednesday, August 11, 4:00–5:00 p.m. ET

“Letter from a Birmingham Jail”- Students will examine this letter by the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., written following his arrest after a nonviolent protest, in which he lays out his frustrations and reasons for protesting.

Meet Your Teacher

Kevin Cline teaches United States history and government at Frankton High School in Frankton, Indiana. In 2016 he was named the National History Teacher of the Year by the Gilder Lehrman Institute. Mr. Cline serves as a Master Teacher for the Gilder Lehrman Institute and does work for the National Center for History Education and the National History Club. Mr. Cline’s passions in teaching include fostering active citizenship and lifting up student voices.

Participation Certificate

Students who attend 5 out of 6 classes can get a certificate from the Gilder Lehrman Institute confirming their participation in this History School course.

Please email if you have any questions.