Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Help Students Pay Attention to the 2009 Inauguration with Engaging Lesson Ideas

It’s only fitting that as students begin to watch the Inauguration of America’s most tech savvy president they are given the opportunity to engage in some technologically innovative lessons. Innovative educators eager to Pay Attention to their student’s desire for a relevant and engaging education, will like these ideas for Inauguration Day lessons and educational experiences. Below are some great sites and technologies with ideas of how to use them to enhance student learning around this important historical event.


Have your students make their own movies as if they were to give an address as the president of the United States using Xtranormal. Xtranormal’s mission is to bring movie-making to the people. Everyone watches movies and they believe everyone can make movies. Their revolutionary approach to movie-making builds on an almost universally held skill—typing. If your students can type something, they can turn it into a movie.

See how students can explore past inauguration speeches and use what they learn to compose and produce their own inauguration speech which can be made into an Xtranormal movie at Inauguration Speech Lesson.


Interactive whiteboards are gaining in popularity in schools. The SMARTBoards in the Classroom blog points us to this Inauguration Day .notebook lesson designed to help students develop an understanding of the US election process and explore the Presidential Inauguration. According to the blog, SMARTBoards are one of the most powerful tools teachers can have in their classrooms as it is a unique device that enables us to reach students who learn through multiple learning styles. It also allows teachers to reach the learner who just can't sit still. Additionally, it helps teachers reach the tactile learner who learns by touch. SMARTBoards thoroughly engage visual and auditory learners and accomplish the first rule of teaching - "First get their attention and then keep them engaged."

The lesson has the following learning objectives:

1) Differentiate Literacy and Social Studies instruction to reach multiple modalities of the diverse learner through the use of Interactive Whteboard Technology and Web 2.0 tools. 2) Discuss the purposes of Primary Day, Election Day and inauguration Day. Note similarities and differences. 3) Discuss the three major events on Inauguration Day. 4) Examine the Presidential and Vice Presidential Oaths of Office, learn new vocabulary and contrast and compare. 5) Research prior Presidential Inaugurations and compare traditions. 6) Share our understanding with our families.

Renzulli Learning – Let's Celebrate Inauguration Day!

Renzulli Learning has created an easy-to-use online assignment template with activities and resources for teachers to supplement classroom activities surrounding this January’s historic Presidential Inauguration! To view one (or more) activities included in the assignment template, simply click on the hyperlink of your choice:

To use the Renzulli Inauguration template (subscribing schools only):

1. Log into your Renzulli Teacher page.

2. Click the "Lesson Planning and Differentiation" tab.

3. Click the green "Your Assignments" button.

4. Click the orange "Create a New Assignment" button.

5. Click the green "Create a New Assignment from a Template" button.

6. From the drop down menu, click "Celebrate Inauguration Day"

7. Click "Use this Template" button.

The assignment template was designed to address a broad range of grade and ability levels. You may wish to modify the assignment template to meet the specific needs of your students – or group students for differentiated learning according to their Renzulli Learning Profiles!

Teacher Tip! Have students do a basic search of the Renzulli Learning site for additional Presidential Inauguration resources. Use key words such as: Inauguration, Presidential Inauguration, Inaugural Addresses, etc.


Use VoiceThread to explore the meaning of this year’s presidential inauguration to all Americans, both as individuals, and as a group. VoiceThread's are simple online virtual spaces that provide a commenting environment and can be used as part of an Inauguration Voices Voicethread project. Interested teachers and their students can join the Inauguration Day Voices group which was created to try to capture the voices of individuals exploring and expressing their own perspectives on this historic event by responding to President Obama’s mantra, “Yes We Can…,” and calling on students to share their thoughts on what it is they think we can do.

To participate, visit and click “Join Now.” If you are a currently registered user, sign in, or register for an account. Once logged in you'll land on your 'MyVoice' Page and will see a number of VoiceThread tutorials in your default view. Click on the button that says 'Showing All' and select Inauguration Day Voices from the drop down menu, you'll see all of the VoiceThreads being shared by participants.

For more ideas on using Voicethread in education visit the Classroom 2.0 conversation at Wanted: Voicethread examples for wiki.

FREE Inaugural Video Clips

To ensure your students are prepared for this historic, teachable moment, HotChalk is providing 25 FREE high-quality video clips on U.S. inaugural addresses from content partners PBS, The History Channel, NBC News and more. Check them out here.


Have an inaugural speech contest and select contest winners from your school to broadcast their own inaugural speeches live on UStream using a password protected channel accessed by those in your school community. Ustream.TV is the live interactive video broadcast platform that enables anyone with a camera and an Internet connection to quickly and easily broadcast to a global audience for free. In less than two minutes, anyone can become a broadcaster by creating their own channel on Ustream or by broadcasting through their own site, empowering them to engage with their audience. You can click on broadcast now to start a broadcast or learn more about broadcasting.

Depending on how a school would like to implement this idea, the broadcast can be viewed in classrooms with internet access and projector. Viewers can comment and chat on the broadcast with facilitation from their teacher. Parents and other community members can be invited to participate.


Students can write and deliver a part of the inaugural address or a response to the inaugural address using a personalized Voki. Voki enables students to express themselves on the web using a talking character. Students can customize their Voki to look like and/or take on the identity of lots of other types of human and nonhuman characters. Vokis can speak with the student’s own voice which is added via microphone, upload, or phone. Students can also choose to insert text and have the Voki use a variety of existing voices with more than a dozen different male and female accents to choose from.

Once the student Voki’s are created they can be inserted into a class blog, wiki, website, and more. From there the school community can comment on and discuss one another’s work and keep the conversation going.

Write an essay.

Johnathan Chase and Nancy Bosch shared these ideas for essays on the Instructional Materials for Inauguration Day discussion on Classroom 2.0.

Contributed by Johnathan Chase

Back in November I had my 7th and 8th grade students write an essay about Barack Obama's Election Night speech and the results were very good. The question could be used for his Inauguration speech as well. You can find a link to the assignment and the essays at "Yes We Can" Essay Assignment.

Contributed by Nancy Bosch

I'm going to use Mrs. Chili's essay assignment with my gifted 6th graders. We'll see how they do.

Inauguration Materials

Places to go for inauguration materials courtesy of Gerald McMullin on Classroom 2.0.

Additional Resources
Inauguration Resources Searching - From School Library Journal
Inauguration 2009 resources - From the History Tech blog

These are just some ideas to inspire innovative educators in their upcoming work with students during this historical Inauguration year. Please contribute feedback, other ideas, or share your experience implementing one of these ideas.


  1. These are all very cool tools to use to 'experience' history in action. This is great especially for those students who would like to be in Washington during this time but are stuck in classrooms.

  2. Wow. Thanks for taking the time and effort to provide the links and lessons. I will definitely be doing an inauguration project using xtraNormal. It would be great if other users posted their best student speeches to your XtraNormal Wiki