The President’s Roles and Responsibilities: Understanding the President’s Job

As a nation, we place no greater responsibility on any one individual than we do on the president. Through these activities, students learn about the roles and responsibilities of the U.S. president and their own roles as citizens of a democracy.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Executive Branch/Presidency
  • Grades: K, 1, 2

The President’s Roles and Responsibilities: Communicating with the President

In order to become informed participants in a democracy, students must learn about the women and men who make decisions concerning their lives, their country, and the world. The president of the United States is one such leader. As a nation, we place no greater responsibility on any one individual than we do on the president. Through several activites, students learn about the roles and responsibilities of the U.S. president and their own roles as citizens of a democracy.

  • Resource Type: Audio, Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit), Research (Digests of Primary Sources), Video
  • Subject: Executive Branch/Presidency
  • Grades: K, 1, 2

The Amendment Process: Ratifying the 19th Amendment

In this activity, students will analyze historical records of Congress and the U.S. government to understand the sequence of steps in the amendment process. Students will study each document and match it to the step in the process that it illustrates.

When put in proper sequence, the documents will show the process by which the 19th Amendment – prohibiting the federal government or states from denying the right to vote on the basis of sex – was added to the Constitution.

Then students will reflect on the process, and the roles that the people, president, Congress and the states play.

  • Resource Type: Primary Sources
  • Subject: Voting, Elections, Politics
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Mock Trial Plan

In this lesson, students will stage a mock trial to resolve a hypothetical dispute. They will develop an understanding of the trial process, the roles of those in the courtroom and their importance to the administration of justice, and the significance of their constitutional protections.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

The Jury System

In this lesson, students will learn about the jury system. Its origins are important to understanding how the Constitution was developed and comprehending how the jury system fulfills dual roles: engaging citizens in their government and ensuring individual liberty. Students should understand the ongoing balance between the common good and individual freedom.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 5, 6, 7, 8

Reconstructing a Nation

This unit provides a backdrop for the social, political, and economic changes that accompanied the Reconstruction amendments. A 30-minute video explains the events leading to Reconstruction, and introduces three individuals who played different roles — an African-American U.S. senator, a college-educated former plantation mistress, and a former Union Army officer who went to work for the Union Pacific Railroad. All dealt with upheaval and opportunity during this tumultuous period.

  • Resource Type: Closed Captions, Editorial Cartoons, Essays, Media, Primary Sources, Research (Digests of Primary Sources), Special Needs/Language Focus, Video
  • Subject: Citizenship
  • Grades: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

The Role of the Courts (Separation of Powers)

In these five short videos, federal judges explain separation of powers and the roles of the three branches of government as well as landmark cases related to separation of powers. Judges also discuss our government’s system of checks and balances, and why it’s important to respect the nation’s rule of law and the jurisdiction of the courts.

  • Resource Type: Video
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Branches of Power

This game immerses students in the workings of our three branches of government. Players take on the roles of legislator, president and Supreme Court justice to get constitutional laws enacted. Players juggle several bills at once while holding press conferences and town hall meetings.

  • Resource Type: Games
  • Subject: Federal Government
  • Grades: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Greene v. River City: Multimedia Supreme Court Experience

This simulated Supreme Court case examines claims initiated by a student group that their school district’s refusal to host school dances violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment. Using the facts from this single case, Greene v. River City provides students two opportunities to learn about and become engaged in our legal system, either as justices serving on the highest court or as participants, taking on all of the roles in a moot court.

  • Resource Type: ESL Appropriate, ESL Materials, Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8