Miller Center

The Roles of the President

Sandra Carter, Independence M.S. (Virginia Beach, VA)
Barbara Kennedy, Kemps Landing Magnet School (Virginia Beach, VA)

Edited by John Sturtz, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

General Topic

Executive Branch

Specific Topic

The Roles of the President


The students will be able to:

  • know the definitions of the roles of the President
  • understand that the roles of the President are interrelated
  • be able to analyze presidential roles, given any historical context

Virginia Standards of Learning

  • CE.1 The student will develop the social studies skills citizenship requires, including the ability to
    a)examine and interpret primary and secondary source documents;
    d)distinguish between relevant and irrelevant information;
  • CE.7 The student will demonstrate knowledge of how public policy is made at the local, state, and national levels of government by
    a)explaining the lawmaking process;

Historical Context:

  • Article II of the U.S. Constitution and subsequent changes over time and in society
  • 1960-1974 Cold War Era including issues concerning: Space Race, Civil Rights, Vietnam, and Watergate

Exhibits and Transcripts

  1. Cuban Missile Crisis—Oct. 26, 1962, Telephone call from President Kennedy to British Prime Minister
  2. LBJ and the War on Poverty
  3. JFK and the Space Race
  4. Mississippi Burning, 1964
  5. Gulf of Tonkin, 1964


Constitution and Executive Branch

Presidential Speeches and Papers

Teacher/Student Activity:

1.Students have been assigned the appropriate selection from their textbooks for homework in order to introduce the concept of the roles of the President.
2.Warm Up: Read the quotes on the board/overhead. Choose one.
  • “The only title in our democracy superior to that of President is the title of citizen.” Louis Brandeis, Supreme Court Justice (1856-1941)
  • “I not only use all of the brains I have, but all I can borrow.” Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the United States (1856-1924)
  • What do you think the author of the quote is trying to say?
  • Do you agree or disagree and why? Write a brief response in paragraph form.
3. Hand out organizer, “Can You Hear Me Now?” Using the textbook, students will work with a partner to complete the first two columns of the visual organizer.
4. Hand out the procedure sheet for the on-line component.
  • Students may only use the assigned websites for on-line research.
  • The student will listen to and read the tapes/taped transcripts.
  • Using the tapes/transcripts, the students will complete the organizer, being sure to justify the roles.

Option: Differentiation by Interest

In order to differentiate this activity in the area of interest, students will complete an interest inventory. There are two opportunities for differentiation in the area of interest: by historical topic or by presidential role (be sure to have student his/her opinion). An inventory for each follows. (more)

Option/Extension: Project

  1. Select two (2) roles of the President.
  2. Using the presidential tapes decide which tapes best demonstrate the role. Use at least three tapes. (more)


  • The organizer will be checked for completion.
  • Alternative Assessment: The student will select one of the following questions and, using the organizer, respond in paragraph form:
    • Which presidential role do you believe is the most important?
    • Which presidential roles do you see as the most interrelated?
    • Which role would you not enjoy performing? Why?