Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The New York Times Interactive Word Map - A Terrific Way to Review The President's Inaugural Address

Principal Jason Levy from CIS 339 brought to my attention New York Times Inaugural Words: 1789 – Present a great resource for innovative educators who want to review President Obama’s Inaugural address. Here students can select any president, review his speech, access the archived New York Times article about the speech and the site allows students to analyze a fantastic interactive word map that provides a look at the language of presidential inaugural addresses. The most-used words in each address appear in an interactive chart in a word cloud that is sized by number of uses. Words highlighted in yellow were used significantly more in this inaugural address than average. Students can hover over any word to determine how many times it was used and click on the word to see its use in context.

The New York Times Daily Lesson Plan suggests using the map as follows,

“After students have written their response to the Inaugural Address, have them discuss their reactions as a class. What themes did they notice that were reminiscent of historical Inaugural Addresses? Did Obama mention any historical figures or make allusions to earlier eras in American history? Why do you think he chose the ones he did? Did he use the words of any of his predecessors? If students notice familiar themes, which historical figures do they think influenced Obama the most when he was composing this address? Why? (Students might visit the Times interactive feature "Inaugural Words: 1789 to the Present" to examine what words were most used in each speech. It can be found at Inaugural Words: 1789 to the Present.)”

In the Classroom 2.0 forum Ideas for What to Do with Students "While" Viewing the Inauguration one teacher suggests having students tally, chart, graph and compare the words used in various inaugural addresses and discuss the relevance — A nice twist on this lesson.

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