Civic Literacy Curriculum
Question 38: What is the name of the President of the United States now?
Q38: What is the name of the President of the United States now?
A. Donald J. Trump
B. Barack Obama
C. Joseph R. Biden
D. Mike Pence
President Truman kept a sign on his desk: The Buck Stops Here. It was a reminder to him -- and to the people -- that as President of the United States, it was his job to make sure that things would run as smoothly as possible. It was his job to execute the laws. It was his job to name capable leaders to federal agencies and his Cabinet. And, most importantly, it was his job to answer to the American people.
The Buck Stops Here. Those four simple words represent a leadership philosophy, a belief that the person in charge has to do more than take credit for success. He or she also has to acknowledge failures and, when appropriate, take responsibility. But it isn’t just success and failure. It’s also crisis management, like standing up and speaking to people who have just lost everything in a hurricane. It’s comforting the grieving families of members of the armed forces lost in the nation’s service. It’s being able to react thoughtfully and decisively in times of attack. It’s being able to put one’s own emotions aside and focus on the needs of the nation and its people.
Given all of its requirements and the expectations of the people, the job of the President of the United States can be more than a little challenging, and that’s putting it mildly.
In this activity, the students will have the opportunity to see what the President of the United States does on a regular basis -- at least as prescribed by the Constitution. The role of the president has grown considerably over time. For this activity, challenge the students to think about their expectations of the president. What should he or she do in times of national tragedy? To honor veterans? To inspire trust?
- Provide each student/pair with a copy of Writing Job Descriptions.
- Provide each student/pair with a copy of The Executive Branch.
- Print a copy of the answer key.
- Provide each student/pair with a blank piece of paper, either an 8x10 or an 8x14.
You can use The Executive Branch document from Question 16 & 17.
The Teaching Materials for this exercise includes an answer key.
- Assign the students to work individually or in pairs.
- If assigning pairs: Group A is the group that needs some extra support. Group B is the core group that has the core knowledge to complete the activity. Group C is the enrichment group that has mastered the material. Group C students are prepared to extend their knowledge. Pair students who need support (Group A) with those who have core knowledge and/or have mastered the material (Groups B and C).
- Explain to the students that they are going to create a job description for the President of the United States.
- Provide the students with the necessary materials.
- Use your discretion when determining the size of paper. An 8x10 works as well as an 8x14. It depends on whether you want the students to present their work or if you wish to hang it up for display.
- Circulate throughout the room to assist the students as they work.
- If you wish, invite students to share their job descriptions and why they listed the responsibilities that they did. Use this as an opportunity to talk about the different responsibilities of the president.
Below are two discussion prompts that can be used by teachers in a classroom setting.
- The first discussion prompt will be one that is designed to support students that are not really understanding the content in a way that would help them to answer the test question.
- The second discussion prompt will be one that is designed to further student understanding of the content by making real-world connections, including connections to current events and historical events.
The way that we view the presidency, judge the candidates, and get information about them has changed significantly since the first federal election took place. The Founding Fathers sought to create a system that would help select qualified presidents. Although we have changed some of their process for choosing presidents, we still try, as the Founders did, to select capable leaders of the executive branch.
Every four years, the people of the United States vote for a new leader. For roughly 18 months prior to the election, candidates work to gain the public’s trust and their votes. The candidate who wins is the one who earns the most votes in the Electoral College. What is the name of our current president? Why do you think that he/she was able to win?
Between social media, questionable media outlets, and nearly constant news reports, our perception of the presidency is significantly affected. How will we know if a president is doing a good job or not? Use current and past events to support your reasoning.