Every Four Years: Qualifications for the Office of President and Electing the President

by Fred Freitas

Overview

Students will examine aspects of Article II of the Constitution for specific information related to the requirements for and method of electing the president.

Materials (attached)

Essential Question

Should the qualifications to become president be changed?

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  1. Students will identify the Constitutional requirements to serve as president.
  2. Students will describe the unwritten qualifications for president.
  3. Students will evaluate both the written and unwritten qualifications and to develop a list of qualifications they consider essential.

Motivation

Tell your students that you are going to describe an important national event that takes place every four years and have them guess what that event might be. Once they guess that it is the election of the president, ask them: “If you were going to create an ad for the job of president, what qualifications would you list in your advertisement?”

Procedure

  1. Have the students fill out the KWL (Know, Want to Know, Learn) chart. In the first column have students list the things they know about presidential elections. In the second column have students list things that they would like to know about presidential elections. Leave the third column blank until the end of the unit. (At that time have students list what they have learned.) On a flipchart make a list of all the things your students know about presidential elections and post it. Do the same thing with the things they would like to learn.
  2. Divide the class into mixed-ability groups.
  3. Assign a recorder for each group and give the recorders markers and a large flip chart to record responses.
  4. Review with the class the rules for brainstorming and group work. (For example, the recorder must write down all responses and cannot edit; all members should take part in the discussion.)
  5. Have each group read Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 of the Constitution on who may become president.
  6. Have each group complete a chart that lists the constitutional requirements in Column 1 and create their own set of requirements in Column 2.
  7. Hand out to the groups “The Presidency: Unofficial Requirements.” The groups can also examine the biographies of American presidents at the University of Virginia American President Reference Resource. Students will determine which of these requirements, if any, should be included in their list of qualifications.
  8. Each group will prioritize its top three qualifications. All members of the group must agree on the final ranking.
  9. Before each recorder begins, provide all students with paper so that they may choose to write down any ideas that they think may be important to the discussion. Have each recorder explain the group’s choices to the whole class and the reasons for them. Then post the results on the walls.
  10. After all groups have reported, hold a class discussion to determine which qualifications should be included in the Constitution and their rank order.

Summary Questions

If you were amending the Constitution of the United States, which requirements for the presidency would you keep? Which would you remove? Which would you add?

Application Questions

Based on your understanding of the written and unwritten qualifications for the presidency, would you agree or disagree with the statement: “Any child may grow up to be president of the United States.” Explain and support your answer.

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