This lesson introduces students to the office of the President by examining the six roles of the modern President of the United States based on the powers enumerated in Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution and precedent set by president’s throughout history. Students will then analyze President Harry S. Truman’s schedule from May 21, 1945 to further explore the six roles of the President of the United States. As students research the roles of the president, they discover the many types of action a president might take in a given situation. The lesson begins with a short clip from We the People, a giant screen film and the compelling question “What roles does the President of the United States play?”
Presidents of the United States must serve in different capacities throughout their terms in order to fulfill the duties of the office as established in the U.S. Constitution. Formal powers given to the president are derived from Article II in the Constitution; informal roles have evolved over time. In order to understand the many powers a president possesses, student must analyze the roles a president faces in the day-to-day running of the country.
Political Cartoon or Newspaper Article
Have students read a current newspaper article or political cartoon of their choice that focuses on the presidency. Have students identify which role(s) are reflected in the coverage of the president, then explain how presidential power is reflected in that role.
Have students research and create a Powerpoint/Prezi/iMovie explaining the powers of the presidency using examples from the current administration.
Have students research President Obama’s schedule at www.whitehouse.gov/schedule. Each student should pick a day within the last month and create a poster identifying and explaining the roles of the presidency based on the president’s schedule.
Choose a current event related to the president and share it with the class. Have students write a synopsis of the event on the blank Presidential Power and Influence Worksheet, then fill out the rest of the worksheet to demonstrate which presidential roles apply to the current issue and what kind of action(s) the president could take in that role.