Presidential Politics

Middle School and High School Teacher

Students will research a past president’s opinions, promises and goals discussed prior to their election and compare/contrast them during their years in office.

Grade Level: 7 - 9th

Subject: Social Studies

Length of Time: About 2-4 Class Periods

Objectives & Outcomes

The students will be able to research a past president, identifying their opinions, promises, and goals prior to the election.  The students will be able to compare and contrast the information with actual events during the president’s term of in office.  The students will be able to effectively communicate their findings to other class members while presenting a speech to the class.

Materials Needed

  • Internet access or other research resources
  • Assigned president

Prepare ahead of time:  List of past presidents, prepare an example using a recent past president or other elected official to model the assignment for students


Opening to Lesson

  • Play a recording of a speech given by a recent president prior to their election
  • Ask students what promises, opinions, or goals they heard during the speech
  • Display a brief list of some of the responses

Body of Lesson


  • Next, ask students to reflect on the promises, opinions, and goals discussed prior to the election
  • Compare/contrast with their term in office
  • Ask: What promises were kept?  What goals were met? And other similar questions…
  • Have a brief discussion to wrap up the example

Guided Practice

  • Distribute a summary of the assignment to each student
  • Assign each student a president to research or allow students to choose a past president
  • Stress to the students the importance of using more than one speech or source to find examples of the president’s pre-election opinions, promises, and goals
  • Using the Internet have students listen (if possible) to the past president’s speeches as preparation for the speech to the class (imitating as closely as possible)
  • Direct students to use primary resources and to be careful of opponents’ opinions about the future president (some of which may not be true)
  • Once research is completed a final report will be written along with the other requirements needed to complete the assignment
  • Students will turn in completed work
  • Assign students 2-3 minutes to give the pre-election speech which will include some of the opinions, promises, and goals of the assigned president
  • Remind students the speech is not to be simply a list of the above, but tied into a well-prepared speech
  • Following each speech, discuss a few of the individual opinions, promises, and goals, determining if the president ultimately stayed true to them

Independent Practice

  • Teacher will create a multiple choice quiz or test using the information presented to the class for students to complete as an assessment


Use a follow-up class session to discuss the following:  Why do many politicians make promises which may be hard to keep?  If or when students can vote, what would they want to hear in a politician’s speech?  How would students approach or prepare for a speech if they were running for office?

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Assessment & Evaluation

Final written report with conclusions and insights and/or class presentation evaluation using expectations/rubrics prepared ahead of time.

Modification & Differentiation

Students may work in pairs, one student researching the president prior to election and the other student researching the presidency; eliminate the class presentation speech, instead having it all completed as a written assignment; use only presidents from the 1900s or other limited years; allow students to use Power Point, display boards, etc., during presentations; record speeches for future use.

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