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By Mrsbenalayat
On July 13, 2020

Lesson Plan: The Role of the Executive Branch in Policy Making

President Trump Vetoes Legislation

President Donald J. Trump vetoes the Border Security National Emergency Resolution Act. President Trump explains why he is vetoing this resolution.


The executive branch of our government and the President of the United States have a role in making policy, even though they do not have the power to pass laws. This lesson has students view video examples of presidents and identify the role that presidents play in creating policy.


  • Background Information:

    Have the students review the following background information on the executive branch's role in policy making.

    Students can read the following information to review this information:

    The executive branch of our government and the President of the United States have a role in making policy, even though they do not have the power to pass laws.

    • The President can veto a bill passed by the Congress, stopping the bill from becoming law.

    • The President can also bypass Congress through an executive order. An executive order is not a law but it is guidance for the departments and agencies in the executive branch on how to carry out laws and policies.

    • The President can also propose a bill to the Congress and to help gain public support can talk about the proposed bill in the State of the Union address.

    • The President can also use the media to speak to citizens so they can understand policies the President supports or opposes.
  • Vocabulary Preview:

    After reviewing the background information, have students test their understanding of the following vocabulary words by matching vocabulary with their definitions. You may print this out or you may assign it to each student individually using Google Classroom or Schoology or another classroom platform. Students accessing this online should be instructed to make a digital copy of the Google Slide so they can edit it.

    Activity: Vocabulary Drag & Drop Activity (Google Slide)

    • Veto

    • Executive Order

    • Bill

    • Law

    • Address
  • Student Activity:

    Have students complete the worksheet listed below to help comprehend the role the president plays in policy making. Students will watch five video clips and identify the five roles (listed below) the president has in creating policy. Students will write the correct letters that match the Presidential role in creating policy to the videos. Video clips describe more than one role.

    Handout: Presidential Role in Creating Policy (Google Doc)

    Presidential Roles in Creating Policy:

    • A. President’s State of the Union address

    • B. President Proposes legislation

    • C. President signs or vetoes bills into law

    • D. President Issues an Executive Order

    • E. President Appeals to voters through the media
  • Application:

    Using the handout, have the students answer the following questions:

    • Why does the President give the annual State of the Union Address?

    • What is it called when the President says “no” to a Congressional bill?

    • Name examples of how the President can speak to the citizens to get their support for his proposed legislation or executive orders?
  • Conclusion:

    As an exit slip, have students answer the following questions in a brief paragraph.

    • In your opinion, what is the most effective way for a president to influence policy? Support your answer with examples from the videos.
  • Extension Activities:

    To further extend students learning on the power of executive orders, have students view the video clip on History of Executive Orders. You may do this as a whole class or assign to students individually.

Additional Resources


  • Bill
  • Executive Order
  • Law
  • President
  • State Of The Union Address
  • Veto


Executive Branch


Middle School