1st Grade New York

The President

This inquiry engages first graders in exploring the meaning and purpose and function of government through the compelling question “Is the president the most important person in government?” Assuming that most first graders know who the president is, this inquiry is designed to help students explore the different levels of governmental leadership and the idea that other authority figures exist in addition to the president. In learning about the levels of government and the issues each deals with, students should consider their own ideas for desired change within their communities (e.g., more recreational space, better roads, more variety in school lunches) and develop a commitment to civic participation.


Compelling Question:

Is the President the Most Important Person in Government?

Staging the Question:

Brainstorm problems in the school or neighborhood that students would like to see fixed.

Supporting Question What does the president do?

Formative Task Create a poster illustrating the main jobs of the president in writing and drawings.

Sources Source A: ”The Three Branches of Government”
Source B: “President of the United States”
Source C: What Does the President Do


Supporting Question What do other leaders do?

Formative Task Complete a graphic organizer listing local and state leadership positions with examples of duties.

Sources Source A: “Important People”


Supporting Question Can the president solve every problem?

Formative Task Write a claim that answers the question with evidence from the sources.

Sources Source A: “Recovering and Rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy”
Source B: Excerpt from “Governor Cuomo Announces $8.2 Million Grant for ‘Project Hope’ to Provide Crisis Counseling in Areas Hardest Hit by Hurricane Sandy”
Source C: Press conference with Mayor Bloomberg, Rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy

Summative Performance Task

Argument: Is the president the most important person in government? Construct an argument that addresses the compelling question using specific claims and evidence from sources.
Extension: Write letters to parents that explain how students used to think about the role of president and how they think about it now.

Taking Informed Action

Understand: Return to the list of problems from the Staging the Compelling Question activity and make a class chart showing who is responsible for addressing each issue.
Assess: Choose one of the problems that the class would like to pursue.
Act: Contact a local, state, or national official whose responsibilities include the problem the class decides to pursue.