Thursday, January 8, 2009

Watching the 2009 Presidential Inauguration with Students

After writing my post about how to Help Students Pay Attention to the 2009 Inauguration with Engaging Lesson Ideas, many readers emailed me to ask how to watch the inauguration with students. Here is what I found.

General Broadcasting

Broadcast and cable news channels will have extensive coverage of the Jan. 20 inauguration and the events preceding it. The day will begin for the networks between 5-7 a.m. ET, when the morning shows set up the event at Capitol Hill. Major coverage will take place beginning at about 10:30 a.m., when the Obamas visit the White House for the traditional tea before the president and president-elect take the motorcade the short distance to Capitol Hill where the swearing in will take place. There are other events throughout the day, including a long parade that will be televised by all the major networks.

Streaming on the Internet

Major news web sites will offer live streaming video and audio of the ceremony. Visit your favorite TV Network or Cable station for details. Here are a few links to sites that will carry the broadcast streamed via the internet.

  • C-SPAN main streaming page.
  • CNN Live page.
  • New York Times will be streaming the inauguration live.
  • Inaugural Senate site will be live streaming the event.
  • LINK-live Inaugural Gala uses digital technologies to bring Americans together to participate in conversations through video feeds, Flickr streams, liveblogs and more. Note: Content from the inauguration ceremony will not be available until after the ceremony has concluded. Great for follow up activities.

A few special broadcasts to note:

  • BET will carry the Inauguration ceremony and parade and will have extensive other coverage.
  • Nickelodeon will not offer live coverage, but will periodically present the highlights of the day with a focus on what it means for children.


I encourage educators to have a radio plan to witness the inauguration. There will likely be bandwidth issues in some school systems on this day. The ol’ reliable radio may be your best bet. You will be able to listen to the ceremony, live, on your favorite NPR station. Other NPR shows will either have an inaugural focus or will be preempted for special coverage. Check with your student's favorite radio stations to determine what kind of coverage they plan to have.

Viewing from School Sites
Schools should work with their on site instructional technology specialists to have laptops and projectors, televisions, and/or radios set up in designated areas around the school depending on the technological capabilities in their schools.

Viewing Details for New York City Department of Education Teachers
The NYC DOE has partnered with ABC News to provide schools with a live Internet video stream of the presidential inauguration on January 20. The ideal location for viewing the broadcast is an auditorium, cafeteria, or large library with projection capabilities (including a laptop or computer with an Internet connection).

New York City teachers and administrators interested in taking advantage of this service can e-mail their borough technology manager (see the list at The subject of your e-mail should be “INAUGURATION.” Your borough technology manager will contact your to schedule a visit by a technician who will assess your school’s capability to access the video stream. Technicians will work with your staff to set up and test the necessary equipment. If your school has limited technology resources or no large viewing space, the technician will explore possible alternative solutions (e.g., utilizing existing cable television service).

Consider an Inauguration Field Trip

There are many places that are hosting live screenings of the inauguration across the country. What better way to make this event special then to reach out and partnering with local community libraries, parks, theaters, etc. to provide a memorable experience for you and your students. Here are some screenings occurring in New York City.

Live Screening of Presendential Inauguration in Foley and Duffy Squares

Tuesday, January 20, 2009 from 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Location: Manhattan

Live Screening of Presidential Inauguration in Flushing Meadows Corona Park

Tuesday, January 20, 2009 from 10:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

This is a free event, but reservations are required. Please call (718) 760-0064 for tickets.

Location: Flushing Meadows Corona Park: Queens Theatre, Flushing Meadow Corona Park

Inauguration Day Schedule

(From the Inauguration Day 2009 website)

Here is what educators and their students can expect to see when watching the inauguration as the President-elect and Vice President-elect and their families participate in inaugural ceremonies and events. For the first time ever, the length of the National Mall will be open to those wishing to attend the swearing-in ceremony. Festivities will commence on the west front of the U.S. Capitol and will include:

10:00 AM

Preliminary festivities begin, including music by The United States Marine Band, The San Francisco Boys Chorus, and the San Francisco Girls Chorus.

11:30 AM

  • Call to Order and Welcoming Remarks: Senator Dianne Feinstein
  • Invocation: Dr. Rick Warren
  • Aretha Franklin will sing
  • Vice President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn into office
  • Music composed by John Williams and performed by Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, Gabriela Montero, and Anthony McGill.

12:00 Noon

As specified by the U.S. Constitution (20th Amendment), presidential terms of office begin and end at 12:00 noon on January 20. Barack Obama will take the oath of office, which is this simple, 36-word, statement:

I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of the President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.

12:05 PM (approx)

President Barack Obama will give his inaugural address, speaking to the nation and world, for the first time, as President of the United States, followed by:

  • Poem: Elizabeth Alexander
  • Benediction: The Reverend Dr. Joseph E. Lowery
  • The National Anthem: The United States Navy Band "Sea Chanters"

1:00 PM (approx)

Inaugural Luncheon. For details on the menu and invited guests, see the news release.

2:00 PM (approx)

Parade down Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House.


There are many inaugural balls held around Washington, DC. Some will be hosted by President Obama, others are just parties.

Balls Hosted by President Obama
For details, see the press release.

  • Youth Inaugural Ball - Young Americans aged 18-35
  • Obama Home States Inaugural Ball - Illinois and Hawaii invited guests
  • Biden Home States Inaugural Ball - Delaware and Pennsylvania invited guests
  • Eastern Inaugural Ball - CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, VT, PR, and USVI invited guests
  • Mid-Atlantic Inaugural Ball - MD, VA, DC, NY, NJ, and WV invited guests
  • Midwest Inaugural Ball - KS, IN, IA, MI, MN, ND, NE, OH, SD, WI, and MO invited guests
  • Southern Inaugural Ball - AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN, and TX invited guests
  • Western Inaugural Ball - AK, CA, ID, MT, OR, WA, WY, AZ, CO, NV, NM, UT, OK, GUAM/AS invited guests
  • Neighborhood Inaugural Ball, hosted by President Obama
    Washington Convention Center. Low Cost and open to public.
  • Commander-in-Chief's Ball, hosted by President Obama
    For men and women in uniform only.

Unofficial Balls


  1. New York City Department of Education Teachers should understand that the special ABC stream will be delivered to schools at the detriment of all other video streams. If a school intends to watch the inauguration online, it is essential that they get set up to receive the special DOE stream.

  2. Thank you for this extensive helpful list.

    Our high school students and 5th grade will be meeting in our church sanctuary and we will be streaming it live.

    As the tech support, I thought it would be better to trouble shoot at one location than have the phone ringing with issues on that day (if there were some!)

    So it is a win win. I get to be in one location......and our students/staff get to witness this historical event together.


  3. @JenWagner,
    Thank you for sharing this great idea. Hopefully others reading this post will be inspired to follow suit.

  4. Thank you for this great collection of inauguration information! My brother and I created a website called lyvegyde ( that gathers links to live online events and webcasts. We are adding inauguration webcasts and other related events as we find them. It looks like there will be a lot of great resources on the 20th!


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