Article II: The Executive Branch

Article II lays out the Executive Branch of the government, headed by the chief executive, also known as the president. The branch is responsible for enforcing the laws. The article outlines the requirements to be president, the election process, and the duties of the office. Learn all about Article II in the National Constitution Center’s learning module.

Grades 10, 11, 12, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Executive Branch/Presidency
Modules (Teaching Unit)

Starter Kit: Checks and Balances Podcast

We exist in a delicate balance. Ours is a system designed to counterweight itself, to stave off the power grabs that entice even the fairest of us all. The U.S. government is comprised of humans, not angels, so each branch has the power to stop the other from going to far. The only catch being, of course, they have to actually exercise that power. In this episode, with the inimitable Kim Wehle as our guide, we learn what those checks actually are, and how the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches (ostensibly) keep things democratic.
This short episode includes a one-page Graphic Organizer for students to take notes on while listening, as well as discussion questions on the back side.

The American Presidency: Core Documents

This collection of documents on the presidency begins with Alexander Hamilton’s commentary on the sections of the Constitution related to the executive branch and ends with President Barack Obama’s address to the nation defending his interpretation of executive authority under the Constitution to use force against the Syrian regime. The documents cover the executive’s role and the specific topics of presidential selection, term limits, and impeachment.

Grades 12, 10, 11
Executive Branch/Presidency
Primary Sources

Grade 9-12 Executive Branch Document Exploration

The purpose of this lesson is to assist student exploration of several of the primary source documents related to the creation of the executive branch. Through independent reading followed by a round robin assignment and an essay to explore current application of executive power, students will develop their historical inquiry skills and understand the scope and meaning of executive power under the U.S. Constitution.

Grades 9-12
Executive Branch/Presidency
Lesson Plans

Congressional Power of Impeachment

In the Constitution, the Congress is given the sole power of impeachment and removing the President and all civil officers from office. This power of Legislative Branch provides a significant check over the Executive and Judicial Branches. This lesson provides explanations of the Constitutional basis of the power, the process for removing officials and the history of impeachments and removing these officials from office. It also provides discussions on the standards of impeachments and how those are interpreted by Congress.

Grades 8, 9-12
Executive Branch/Presidency
Lesson Plans

Executive Power in Times of Crisis

This lesson explores the use of executive power in times of crisis in relation to both the Constitution and the legislation of the time. Using exclusive primary source material from the National Archives at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, students will explore how President Lincoln, President Reagan, and President Obama utilized their executive power against the respective threats of their time.

Starter Kit: Executive Branch Podcast

In this episode of our Starter Kit series, a primer on the powers of the President, both constitutional and extra-constitutional. What can a president do? How long do a president’s actions reverberate? Why don’t we do treaties anymore?
Also, a super-inefficient mnemonic device to remember the 15 executive departments in the order of their creation.
This short episode includes a one-page Graphic Organizer for students to take notes on while listening, as well as discussion questions on the back side.

Grades 12, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
Executive Branch/Presidency
Audio

The Powers of the President

In this lesson, students will view video clips to learn about the powers of the president and how they have grown and been used throughout our history. Students will use these video clips to respond to a writing prompt about the balance of powers between the three branches.

Grades 12, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
Executive Branch/Presidency
Media

Civic Friendship: ‘I Am Rooting Hard for You’

“You will be our President when you read this note. I wish you well. I wish your family well. Your success now is our country’s success. I am rooting hard for you.”
It doesn’t sound like a note that a politician would write to the man who had just defeated him in a hotly contested election for the highest office in the nation just a few months prior, yet these are the exact words penned by President George H.W. Bush to his successor, newly inaugurated President Bill Clinton, on January 20, 1993. Many of the tributes to the former president recounted the story of this note as evidence of the character of the man, of his grace and humility. In this eLesson, students will explore the importance of character traits like humility and respect in the individuals who hold public office and how commitment to the rule of law has sustained the executive branch throughout the country’s history.

Grades 9-12
Executive Branch/Presidency
Lesson Plans