Lesson Plan: The Roles of the President

Date: November 17, 1997

Objectives: The students will

I. identify the powers and qualifications of the US Presidency.

II. outline the roles or functions of the President.

III. relate these functions/roles to historical and contemporary actions taken by presidents past and present.
Warm Up Activity (Anticipatory Set): Myths of the American Presidency

A) Display or read orally the following statements on the Presidency. Have students write true or false on a sheet of scrap paper.

B) Either individually or all together, have students indicate their responses with a show of hands.

Alternate: Have students move to specific points in the room after they write down their response to a question. Allow those who have gathered to discuss their answer and make a case for it when entering time for class discussion.

True-False Questions:

1) The President can declare war if America's national security is threatened. (False. Only Congress can declare war.)
2) The President has the right to withhold certain information from Congress if he thinks it would endanger America. (True, Executive Privilege)
3) The power of the vice-presidency has been increasing since the early 1990s (true).
4) No president has ever made it to the highest office without being elected to either the Presidency or the vice-presidency (false. Gerald Ford was not elected to either post).
5) The president is one of the highest paid members of American society. (False. he makes a mere $200,000)
6) No president has ever been elected to more than two terms (False. FDR gained four terms).

Main Activity (Instructional Input): Presentation On The Roles of the President.

Note: The following is based on a Powerpoint Presentation by George Cassutto called "The Roles of the President."
This presentation can be seen in the web browser as framed web pages using the link above. One can also download the entire presentation and run it on your own computer. Be aware that the file format is Powerpoint 97, and will require either Powerpoint 97 or Powerpoint Viewer 97 to view and show. One can also download a converter than will allow a Powerpoint 97 presentation (like this one) to be viewed in Powerpoint 95. The Powerpoint 97 Viewer can be downloaded for free from Microsoft (for Windows 95 only, 2.8 MB) .

Examples (Modeling): Question and Answers

A) As the presentation proceeds, have students discuss examples of the roles of the president as seen in history and current events.

B) The roles include:

      Role: Chief of State
      Role: Chief Executive
      Role: Chief Diplomat
      Role: Commander-In-Chief
      Role: Chief Legislator
      Role: Chief of the Party
      Role: Chief Guardian of the Economy
C) Students can also be divided into groups according to the roles of the presidency. Have students examine the newspaper, magazines, textbook, and Internet for examples of how the current and past presidents have acted to fulfill these roles.

D) Have students present their findings to the class. Students must be prepared to relate the action of the President in question with the role they have been assigned.

E) Groups should also be asked to evaluate the actions of the president as to whether or not they fulfilled the role of the president adequately. Students should be able to answer the final questions presented at the end of the Powerpoint Presentation:

1) Why do you think it is the most visible part of the American political system?

2) Does the President really serve the needs of the American people?

3) How does the office of the Presidency actually help the American people?

 Check For Understanding: Warm-Up or Quiz on the Presidential Roles

A) Have students determine which of the roles listed above is being described. More than one may apply, but students should pick the best role and be ready to defend their choices.

B) Students should answer the questions on their own paper.

1) President Clinton appointed Ruth Bader Ginsberg to the Supreme Court. (Chief Executive)
2) Jimmy Carter brings Egypt and Israel together to sign the Camp David Peace Accords in 1979. (Chief Diplomat)
3) President Clinton sends Hillary Clinton to represent the United States at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales. (Head of State)
4) President Kennedy orders America's nuclear forces on high alert during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. (Commander-in-chief)
5) President Carter placed restrictions on the sale of gasoline during the 1979 energy crisis. (Guardian of the economy).
6) The president makes his annual state-of-the union address to Congress to outline his agenda for the year. (Chief  legislator).
7) President Clinton may have broken federal law as he raised money for the Democratic National Committee in 1996. (Chief of the Party)

A full-scale 15-question quiz on the Roles of the President is available.

Guided Practice: Role play on the Roles of the President

A) Students should be in the groups they were in previously.

B) Shuffle the roles so that each group has a new presidential role.

C) Have students assign dramatic roles within their groups to illustrate their new presidential role. Their scenario can be made up or based on one from history or current events. each scenario might last 1-2 minutes.

D) Have the rest of the class write down guesses and written supports as to which role the students are portraying.

E) The activity can also be done as a pictionary activity where students draw the concept on the board in a limited time frame without using letters, numbers or speech. the class must guess the concept. the group that identifies it correctly is then up to demonstrate their concept before the class.

Homework (Independent Practice): Executive Branch Vocabulary

A) Have students define 10 terms or phrases relating to the executive branch that they can find in the newspaper or in news broadcasts.

B) Instruct students to compare terms and definitions before presenting them to the class on an overhead transparency.

C) Allow students to list their own terms and  definitions on transparencies or on computers and have them present their definitions to the class.
Wrap-Up Activity (Closure): Student-Generated Quiz

A) Based on the terms and phrases that the students were able to locate in their examination of the media, develop a short matching quiz.

B) Give the quiz, have students correct each other's work, and discuss answers orally.
Evaluation: The lesson will be evaluated by:

I. the accuracy of student's written responses;

II. student's scores on future tests and quizzes.

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