What Does the President Actually Do?

Teachers' Edition: Grades 3-6 (Lesson Plans)

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Duration: One 40-50 minute lesson.

Goal: Students will understand various parts of the president’s job description.


  • Students will be able to identify the roles of the president.
  • Students will be able to compare the role of the president to their hypothetical role of being “president of the classroom.”

  • Essential Question: What does the president do?

    NCSS Themes:

  • Theme 5- Individuals, groups, and institutions
  • Theme 10- Civic Ideals and Practices
  • Procedures:

    Attention Getter:

    Ask students to share what their parents or family members do for a living and what they do at their jobs. Ask students what they think the job description is for various jobs such as firefighting, mail carrying, and waitressing. Then, ask students to think about what they think the president’s job description is.

    1. Explain to students that United States presidents always have specific roles to fulfill. Tell students that this lesson is about the different roles of the president.

    2. Give a general introduction to how presidential roles are changing over time (see backgrounder).

    3. In this lesson, students will compare the various roles of the president to a hypothetical “president of the classroom” role they will take on. In order to do this, the teacher will alternate between whole class instruction and individual seat-work by following the steps of the graphic organizer. Below is a step by step guide to how the graphic organizer is to be completed with students:

    a. On a chalk board, overhead, or SMART board, begin the graphic organizer with students by writing down number one which is “Chief of State”. Write the definition so students can copy it down on the lines provided. Then discuss examples of the president fulfilling his role as Chief of State and have students write a couple examples in the left box.

    b. In order to remember what each of the roles mean, tell students that they will compare what the president does to what they would do as “classroom president.” For example, the leader or president of the classroom may congratulate honor roll students just as the president of the United States congratulates people who have done extraordinary things. Have students come up with scenarios of their own. Struggling students may need to be prompted for ideas.

    c. Repeat letters “a” and “b” for each additional presidential role. For prompting ideas, refer to the completed graphic organizer.


    On an exit card, have students write out which role they think is the most difficult. Have students explain why they believe that role is the most difficult.

    Materials Needed:

    “Roles of the President” graphic organizer

    Extension Activities

    1. This activity can be extended by having students compare the presidential roles with examples from their home.

    Accommodations for students with special needs

    1. Provide struggling students with extra prompts while they are filling out the graphic organizer.

    2. To complete the organizer, allow some students to take “cloze notes”. In other words, provide notes with one-word blanks so students can fill them in as they go.

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