Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8, 9-12

This lesson plan accompanies the BrainPOP topic, Barack Obama, and can be completed over several class periods. See suggested times for each section.



Students will:

Activate prior knowledge about Barack Obama–who he was, problems he solved, etc.

Identify problems and solutions faced by Obama during his presidency.

Use critical thinking skills to analyze how Obama’s style of governing, and strategies for solving problems, set an example of civility.

Demonstrate understanding through creative projects, such as coding an interview with Obama, producing an election commercial, and creating a headline.

Present projects and reflect on new understandings.



For background on the Barack Obama Topic, click the Full Description link below the movie player.

The INVESTIGATE and CREATE sections of the lesson require students to use Make-a-Map, Make-a-Movie, and Creative Coding projects. Assign the Barack Obama Make-a-Map to the class in advance of the lesson. 


Approximate time: 20-25 minutes

Begin the lesson plan by activating students’ prior knowledge and making real-life connections.  Then show the movie to introduce the topic. 

  1. DISPLAY this Anchor Question on whiteboard and read it aloud:  How did Obama’s style of governing and values set an example of civility during his presidency?
    Tell students they will investigate this question over the course of the lesson and will return to it at the end.
  2. ACTIVATE BACKGROUND KNOWLEDGE by asking students what they know about Barack Obama in pairs or in small groups. Encourage them to include anything they think of! Then read aloud the description below the movie player.
  3. MAKE CONNECTIONS Tell students that Obama was well known for speaking out against partisanship–fighting between political parties, even before he was president. To emphasize this point, show the Primary Source video clip of Obama speaking about issues of partisanship at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Then ask students to describe a time when they had to compromise or help bring two opposing sides together. How did they do it?
  4. WATCH the movie Barack Obama as a whole class on the whiteboard. Turn on the closed caption option to aid in comprehension.  



Approximate time: 20-25 minutes

Prompt students’ inquiry and critical thinking skills by having them find key details to build knowledge and understanding.


  1. Students open their Make-a-Map Assignment and select or create a Problem/Solution map.. They type the question they will investigate at the top:
    What problems did Obama face during his presidency and how did he solve them?
  2. As students watch the movie again,
  3. they identify problems the country confronted during Obama’s presidency and how he solved them. Evidence can be text, images, and movie clips.
    EXTRA CHALLENGE: Prompt students to include evidence that reveals Obama’s style of governing.
    SUPPORT TIP: Help students by identifying a problem and its solution, and modeling how to add it to the concept map. .
  4. Students SUBMIT their maps when they are done.


Approximate time: 45-60 minutes

Students demonstrate their understanding by synthesizing their ideas and expressing them through one or more of the following hands-on, creative projects.  They can work individually or collaborate. Remind them to use evidence from their concept maps in their creations.


  • An Interview with Obama: Code an interview with Barack Obama in which you ask a question about his beliefs or ideals.
  • Election Commercial: Go back in time to the 2008 election season. Produce a campaign ad supporting Obama. Be sure to include details about his beliefs and governing style. 
  • Obama in the News: Code a headline highlighting a success or challenge during Obama’s time in office. 



Wrap up the lesson with student presentations and a final reflection on learning.

PRESENT: Students present their completed projects to their classmates. 

WRAP UP: Draw attention to the Anchor Question again: WHow did Obama’s style of governing and values set an example of civility during his presidency? Students answer the question using their new knowledge.


Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments