Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

The Different Hats Worn by the Presidents

Different Roles of Modern Presidents

Kristen Sublett, Virginia Kennedy | Published: November 10th, 2022 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level 12th
  • Subject Subject Social Studies
  • Course Course U.S. Government, U.S. History
  • Time Frame Time Frame 2-3 class period(s)
  • Duration More 180 minutes


Modern presidents are expected to wear different hats; i.e., play different roles in their jobs. This lesson explores the roles and examples of how presidents carry out the responsibilities of their jobs.

Essential Question(s)

What are the roles of the President?



Students complete a circle map of possible roles played by the President.


Students complete a graphic organizer defining the 7 presidential roles.


Students work in groups to create a hat that is representative of their presidential role.


Students work in groups to complete a presidential roles card sort activity.


The results of the card sort activity and the explanation from the hats activity can be used as assessments.


  • Construction paper

  • Presidential Roles graphic organizer (attached)

  • Card sorts, cut and grouped (attached)

  • Answer key for card sort activity (attached)


Ask students to think the many hats that they wear, i.e., the different roles, relationships, and responsibilities they play out on a daily basis. Have them share out just a few with the whole class. Transition by telling students they're going to examine the different roles the president serves every day.

Display slide 4. Have students get out a sheet of notebook paper and draw a large circle in the middle, taking up the majority of the page. Have them write the phrase "Roles of the President" in the middle of the page. As the students brainstorm the different roles the president serves, have them record their answers anywhere in the circle using the Circle Maps strategy.

After a sufficient amount of time (usually around 5 minutes), tell students to share their ideas with an Elbow Partner. They should add ideas from their partner to their personal circle maps. Then, have students share out with the whole class and create a class circle map on the board. Ask different partners to share out their answers until a good number of answers exist on the class circle map. This entire activity should take 10-12 minutes.

Transition into the Explore activity by telling the students that many of their answers can be categorized into larger roles that the president serves, which each encompass several smaller duties and responsibilities. Tell them that they are going to look at each of the different roles and what duties and responsibilities the president must perform as part of those roles.


Display slide 5. Pass out the attached Roles of the President graphic organizer. Tell students to use the websites listed on the slide, along with their textbooks to find the information needed to fill out their graphic organizers, namely the definition of the role and some responsibilities for it. Tell students that they are only filling out the left side of the graphic organizer at this point. They will fill out the right side later in the lesson. Additionally, tell them to work with a partner to find the information that they need — they should not split up the different roles.

Allow students time to fill out their graphic organizers. When they are finished with this exercise ask them to share out their answers through a class share out. Call on different partners to share the information that they found for each role. After a group has shared out about a presidential role, but before moving on to the next role, make sure to discuss with the students anything they might have missed. Use the Roles of the President Answer Sheet to make sure that all the information has been covered. Give students about 30 minutes to research and another 20 minutes to discuss.

Transition to the next activity by telling students that they are going to represent the information that they just gathered by creating a hat .


Display slide 6. Direct students to use the construction paper and markers to draw a hat that represents their chosen presidential role. (Let students choose which role to represent. However, it should be a first come, first served process so that each role is assigned to at least one student.)

Tell students to be as creative as they want, using anything that they think represents the definition and responsibilities of their presidential role. Tell them to be prepared to defend their creations, including the colors they have used. You might want to emphasize the explanation/defense of their hat as the most important part of the activity. After a sufficient amount of time, typically 15 minutes, have them share out their different hats. As students present their hats, direct the other students to write down characteristics of the hats presented in the last column of their graphic organizer. They should have at least 1–2 characteristics for each presidential role.

Transition by telling students that they are going to apply their knowledge of presidential roles and responsibilities by sorting actual presidential actions into the different category roles.


Display slide 7. Give each student group one set of cards for the Card Sort activity. Tell students that there are seven heading cards (the seven presidential roles) and the rest of the cards are actual presidential actions to separate into the different presidential roles. Tell the students that some of the action cards might seem like they fit into more than one category, but they must choose only one. Give students 10–15 minutes to sort out the cards. You can use this activity as a formative assessment, but we recommend that you go over the correct answers afterward.


The hats can be used as an evaluation, as can the card sort.