The Democracy Project

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The Perfect President

Subjects: Social Studies/Language Arts

Estimated Time of Completion: four to six fifty minute class periods

  1. I. Summary
  2. II. Objectives
  3. III. Materials Needed
  4. IV. Procedure
  5. V. Classroom Assessment
  6. VI. Extensions and Adaptations
  7. VII. Relevant Standards

I. Summary

After researching about the U.S. president's duties, students will brainstorm criteria for the "perfect president." The information will then be used to create a job description and newspaper article to advertise the presidency.

II. Objectives

  • Students will understand that certain character traits will enhance the president's ability to fulfill his responsibilities.
  • Students will show a considerable comprehension of the president's role in office.
  • Students will analyze and critique media to gather details of the president's role, and create a written job description synthesizing information from different sources.

III. Materials Needed

  • For bulletin board: poster board for puzzle pieces, magazines and newspapers for pictures, glue, paper and pencil, stapler
  • For completing written assignment: computers with Internet access, software word processing program

IV. Procedure

  1. Ask for a show of hands: how many students would want to be president when they reached adulthood? What would be the best part of being president? What would be the worst part? Explain to students that they're about to learn more about the daily duties of the President of the United States.
  2. The first thing students will do is to visit the online game, "President for the Day." Here students can gather information about the responsibilities and daily life of the president.
  3. Cut poster board to make puzzle pieces. Cut the same amount of puzzle pieces as you have students. Be sure to mark the wrong side for ease in putting the puzzle together. Give students a puzzle piece and instructions to draw or paste pictures on it that represent the presidency. When everyone is finished, the students will put the puzzle together and staple their pieces in the correct position on the bulletin board. The bulletin board might be entitled "Fitting Together Presidential Pieces."
  4. The students will create a job description for a president. Students will outline legal requirements, personality traits and preferred previous job experience. Begin by reviewing the legal requirements for the presidency contained in the Constitution. Then, brainstorm traits and skills that would help a presidential candidate succeed in office. What previous work experience might help him or her? What personality traits are important? Sample job description formats may be obtained from human resources departments in local businesses.
  5. Students will create a newspaper article detailing the perfect president. Students could do this with or without the use of a computer. The articles could then form the border of the bulletin board, be displayed on a school hallway bulletin board or be displayed at a local city business. Students could possibly visit and read these aloud at a local civic organization meeting.
  6. Students will take a look at some past presidents and compare them to the students' job description and newspaper article to see how they measures up. Helpful Web sites include:
    • White House Historical Association
    • The American President
    • The White House
    • American Presidents: Life Portraits

IV. Classroom Assessment

  • Excellent:

    Research has been completed and contains complete sentences in a very well-developed way. There is substantial information. The brochure is very organized, contains accurate facts and cleverly presented insightful opinions. All work is neat, original and completed on time.
  • Good:

    Research has been completed. It may lack some development, but contains accurate information that is presented in a fairly logical manner. The brochure is organized, contains facts and presents some clever opinions. All work is completed on time.
  • Poor:

    Some research has been completed. Information presented is fair. Information may be lacking clarity or may not be accurate. The brochure is not organized, contains inaccurate facts, or lacks some opinions. Work is either poor quality or not completed on time.

V. Extensions and Adaptations

  • Once someone decides they want to be president, how does he or she get there? It's not as simple as interviewing for another job. Visit the following Web site and discuss the steps of a presidential election with students. Students will then briefly outline, web or number the steps in sequence of how the president is elected: ""How A President Gets Elected."
  • Have students think about the president's job in 100 years and determine if and how the job description will change.
  • Older students could work in groups as small newspaper teams. The entire newspaper could be about the "perfect president." One member could be the Editor in Chief, another a proofreader, one member could be an illustrator, and still another could be the political humorist. Students could publish a newspaper dedicated to providing information about the president's job, lifestyle, personality traits, legal requirements, etc. Political cartoons and lifestyle could be sections of the newspaper. Each member of the team would have responsibilities. Working together they would complete and share this newspaper of presidential facts and opinions with the other students.

VII. Relevant National Standards

These are established by McREL:

Social Studies

  • Understands ideas about civic life, politics and government
  • Knows that the United States is one nation and that it interacts with every other nation in the world
  • Knows what political leaders do and why leadership is necessary in a democracy
  • Knows the major duties, powers, privileges and limitations of a position of leadership (e.g., class president, mayor, state senator, tribal chairperson, president of the United States); and knows how to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of candidates in terms of the qualifications required for a particular leadership role
  • Understands how certain character traits enhance citizens' ability to fulfill personal and civic responsibilities
  • Understands the importance of political leadership, public service and a knowledgeable citizenry in American constitutional democracy responsibilities

Language Arts

  • Demonstrates competence in the general skills and strategies of the writing process
  • Gathers and uses information for research purposes
  • Demonstrates competence in the general skills and strategies of the reading process
  • Demonstrates competence in the general skills and strategies for reading a variety of informational texts
  • Demonstrates competence in speaking and listening as tools for learning
  • Uses grammatical and mechanical conventions in written compositions