Who Deserves the Cabinet Position?


Lesson Overview                                                                                                            

 This lesson is designed to teach students about the importance of the PresidentÕs Cabinet.  They use evaluations, which were sent to President Hoover to determine who they would choose as a member of Cabinet. 



Lesson Author


 Julie Schnebbe



 Jefferson High School, Cedar Rapids, Iowa



Lesson Audience

Grade Level


# of Class Periods




Length of Period



Objectives                                                                                                               Back to Navigation Bar

Student will:

1.     Use primary documents to help them discover how a President may go about choosing members of Cabinet

2.     Be able to define Cabinet and its importance to the President

3.     Be able to work within a group to conclude the best person for the appropriate Cabinet position

4.     Evaluate pros and cons of a given candidate

5.     Determine what information on a given candidate is irrelevant to the PresidentÕs decision

6.     Justify his or her rank order of candidates for the Cabinet position

7.     Create a visual aid and brief class presentation regarding the groupÕs choice for Cabinet

  1. Realize the difficulties faced by a President when choosing cabinet



Materials                                                                                                                 Back to Navigation Bar


1.      Poster paper, markers/crayons/colored pencils

2.      Internet access and 4-5 computers

3.      Access to printer (preferably color, but not necessary)

4.      HooverÕs lists of potential Cabinet candidates

  1.  HooverÕs Cabinet (to share at the very end of the lesson)


Handouts (Handouts embedded in Appendix)

1.     Cabinet Starter sheet (this could be presented as a slide too)

2.     Who Deserves the Cabinet Position? worksheet

3.     Who Deserves the Cabinet Position? rubric

4.     1 set of documents on potential Cabinet members per group with enough copies for each person (there are 6 sets of documents, each group should receive a different list of potential candidates)

5.     HooverÕs Lists of Potential Cabinet Members

  1. HooverÕs Cabinet choices
  2. Supplemental Materials including: Letters to Hoover regarding Senator BorahÕs possible nomination for a Cabinet position, Political Cartoons during the time Hoover was choosing Cabinet members, newspaper articles regarding HooverÕs Cabinet Member choices, how Hoover dealt with Cabinet at the beginning of the Great Depression (just to provide students with the insight that a President may not always agree with Cabinet, and may even go against his or her instincts in order to appease Cabinet members


Classroom Procedures                                                                 Back to Navigation Bar

Prior Learning (background information, vocabulary)

The student will need to know:

  1. The Cabinet starter sheet will help students get a brief understanding of what the Cabinet is, and why it is so important to a President.  This is all they will need to know ahead of time.   

Day 1:

1. Introduce the idea of a PresidentÕs Cabinet to students briefly with The Cabinet Starter Worksheet (short description, and outlines their directions for working) (5 minutes)

2. Hand out Who Deserves the Cabinet Position? worksheet, and explain that students will be using primary sources from 1929 to determine a selection for a Cabinet position that needs to be filled (5 minutes)

3. Hand out Who Deserves the Cabinet Position? rubric, and remind them of group work expectations (2 minutes)

4. Divide students into groups of no more than 4 students (2 minutes)

5. Hand out primary source packets to each group (I would have each group only focus on one position to be filled (State, Attorney General, or Treasury) (2 minutes)

6. Circulate through the room to monitor, and listen to what students are saying/ how they are justifying their choices (rest of time available)

7. Groups should be able to complete the Who Deserves the Cabinet Position? worksheet, and begin making their group posters (30-40 minutes)

8. Let students know that they will have 10 minutes to finish posters at the beginning of class tomorrow, and anything they will not be able to complete in that time should be done as homework (1 minute)


Day 2:

1. Students should go immediately into their groups (10 minutes to finish posters)

2. Each group should present their choice for Cabinet/justification of why (15-20 minutes)

3. Hand out HooverÕs lists of potential cabinet candidates and discuss how difficult it would be to fill 10 positions, and 15 in the modern Cabinet (10 minutes)

4. -Be sure to discuss all the things to consider (friends, variety, etc.)

5. Hand out the list of HooverÕs Cabinet Selection, and read through it as a full group (5 minutes)

6. If time allows, show students the letters written to President Hoover regarding his possible nomination of Senator William Borah.  (remaining time)

7. -Discuss just how difficult it would be for a President to please people with his choices for Cabinet (could relate this to ordering pizza for a large group, as it is nearly impossible to get consensus on toppings - and thatÕs an easy decision comparatively)



Extension                                                                                    Back to Navigation Bar

Use any remaining time during Day 2 to discuss the importance of Cabinet members, how a President may choose these people, show HooverÕs lists of potential Cabinet candidates, as well as those he actually chose to fill in his Cabinet.  Discuss the refusals he received and how that would affect you as a President-Elect.


Evaluation                                                                                                              Back to Navigation Bar



Who Deserves the Cabinet Position?





4 or less

Use of Class Time

Used time well during each class period. Focused on getting the project done. Never distracted others.

Used time well during each class period. Usually focused on getting the project done and never distracted others.

Used some of the time well during each class period. There was some focus on getting the project done but occasionally distracted others.

Did not use class time to focus on the project OR often distracted others.

Required Elements

The poster includes all required elements as well as additional information.

All required elements are included on the poster.

All but 1 of the required elements are included on the poster.

Several required elements were missing.


All items of importance have been identified in the pros and cons for each candidate.

Almost all items of importance have been identified in the pros and cons for each candidate.

Several items of importance for the pros and cons are missing for each candidate.

Items of importance regarding pros and cons for each candidate are missing OR no important items were listed.

Justification of Choices

Student has done an outstanding job of justifying his or her selections in 4 sentences per candidate.

Student has justified his or her selections of candidates in fewer than 4 sentences.

Student has done 75% of the job of justifying his or her selection of candidates.

Student did 60% or less in the job of justifying his or her selection of candidates.


Appendix                                                                                     Back to Navigation Bar


Sourcing: All primary documents were found at the Hoover Museum and Library in West Branch, Iowa.