The way I hear it, the first three weeks are the most important. Behaviorwise, the first three weeks set the tone of the class. Instructionwise, the first three weeks set the tone of the course.
For American history and American government, I have a plan.
The first three weeks set the foundation: students will, in order, memorize the map of the United States, a simple timeline and the presidents of the United States. Said timeline includes a few key dates in American history — JFK’s assassination, Pearl Harbor, Armistice Day, et. al. — plus when all those wars go.
This sort of rote memorization grinding fits in best at the beginning of the year, when discipline is still a nebulous issue. It’s easy to establish a routine with this short unit.
Once that’s over with, we’ll actually start hitting the whole thing thematically.
Don’t worry about the first three weeks sounding boring. I have my plans for that, too.
I’m more worried about the workload than anything. Is this too much to expect from my students in the first three weeks? Should I tone it down? Or should I chalk this up to healthy overplanning?