Lesson Plan

How Powerful is the President

Students will use a variety of resources to learn about the powers of the President and how these powers are limited. Additionally, students will discover how the three branches of government work together.
Keith G.
Educational Technology Specialist
Montgomery, United States
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My Grades K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
My Subjects Social Studies

Students will be able to...

  1. Compare duties and functions of members of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the national government.
  2. Explain how the Separation of Powers clause limits the power of the President.
Social Studies
Grades 6 – 8
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Hook

The daily outcome should be written on the whiteboard, "Student will be able to summarize the powers of the Executive Branch granted by the Constitution and explain how these powers are limited." As the lesson begins, teacher will refer students to the outcome and explain that understanding the powers of government is a part of the Alabama Course of Study, but is also necessary to be an active, informed citizen of the United States. The teacher will explain that students will be completing several activities during the lesson to explore the powers of the President, as well as, the restrictions placed on him/her.  The Timers4Me app should be set to prompt teacher when 10 minutes remain in class.

2 Direct Instruction- KWL

The teacher will introduce the first strategy, a K-W-L, by reminding students that the strategy had been used before.  (If this is your first time using a K-W-L organizer, learn about K-W-L's here, or if this is the first time to use the online KWL Creator, allow extra time to model for students.)  Students will open the online K-W-L creator tool on the computer (or utilize a printed K-W-L chart if computers are not available). 

Student Instructions

Use the online KWL Creator to create a chart that shows what you know and what you want to learn about the power of the preseident.

3 What do you know?

Activity: Exploring

The teacher should ask students to consider, "How powerful is the President? Is there anything he/she cannot do?" Students are then instructed to list, in the "Know" section of their K-W-L, all of the powers that they know the President has. During the next few minutes, the teacher should circulate around the room and jot notes on the students' work. This is a good time for the teacher to provide formative feedback to individual students. 

Student Instructions

Students should be instructed to list, in the "Know" section of their K-W-L, all of the powers that they know the President has. 

4 What do you want to know?

Activity: Exploring

As the teacher continues to circulate, he/she should instruct students to continue to the "Want to Learn" section of the K-W-L.  In this section, students should list any powers that they want to know if the President has. After several additional minutes, he/she should ask students to share their list with their partner. The teacher should continue to jot notes, while listening in on partner discussions and glancing at the K-W-L's.

Student Instructions

Students should now list any powers that they want to know if the President has. 

5 Reading

Have students open the attached file; it is a section of We the People: The Citizen & the Constitution.  Students should be instructed to keep the K-W-L handy as they read the selected text on the powers of the Executive Branch, What Is the Role of the President in the American Constitutional System?  (Student reading portion is only pages 4-8, the remaining pages are for teacher use. If desired, the entire book can be purchased on iBooks here.)  Students should be instructed to chunk the reading, and as each chunk is completed,  students should annotate their K-W-L by highlighting any powers they have listed that were accurate or drawing a single line through any powers they had listed that were inaccurate.  (The teacher can model this using a pre-made K-W-L displayed on the Interactive White Board.)  As the students complete the task, they should be asked to compare charts with their partner and to mark any powers that they were unsure of with a star for future review.

Student Instructions

Read Pages 4-8 of the PDF that you just downloaded.  Keep your K-W-L chart handy and add to your "What to know" section as needed.

Read a short portion and then update your K-W-L.

6 Discussion

The teacher should ask if the President should have the power to do everything?  The teacher will explain that it is obvious that we wouldn't want the President to have the power to do everything. Ask the students to create a graphic organizer to identify the checks and balances of the government,  (Model the organizer on the Interactive White Board.) while they watch the video podcast that describes the system. As the podcast plays, circulate the room glancing at the organizers as the students work. At the conclusion of the podcast, suggest that students compare organizers with their partner's work to identify discrepancies or omissions.

7 Review

Free, Paid

After the organizers had been compared, lead a review/assessment using the Socrative, individual white boards or notebook paper. Display a set of pre-written questions, one at a time, on the Interactive Board. The questions should range from simple recall to higher level comparison-type questions. The students should respond to each question using the Socrative website, individual white boards or notebook paper. The teacher should make notes on the accuracy of students' answers to the questions.  While the Socrative website will tabulate these, be sure to add in the answers of students using dry erase boards to the tally generated by the Socrative website to ensure all student responses are included. The teacher should pay particular attention to any questions that more than a few students answer incorrectly. Immediate corrective feedback should be provided, and students should be reminded to correct their chart or organizer as necessary.

8 Closing

As a preset timer flashes on the Interactive Board that only 10 minutes remained in the period, instruct students to retrieve their K-W-L chart and to complete the "What I Learned" section.  Have the students write  answers to the original questions that had been posed, "How powerful is the President? Is there anything he/she cannot do?" As the students work, check in with any students that missed more than one question during the review and verify that they are clear on the correct response. As students leave the classroom, collect their K-W-L as an exit slip. (K-W-L's created online can be emailed to the teacher.)

Student Instructions

Complete the "What I learned" section of your K-W-L chart.