Sunday, January 15, 2017

Inauguration Tips for Active Viewing & Doing

Innovative educators know that when Inauguration day comes you don’t want your students passively watching. Regardless of your political views, active, engaged, focused viewing is the key.

Here are a few ideas to ensure your students are engaged and their minds are stimulated with active viewing activities.

Whenever watching video, frame, focus, and follow up are the basics recommended by the EDC’s Center for Children and Tech for viewing digital media in the classroom.

Here are some ideas for each of these essential parts of viewing.

Provide a context that helps viewers pay attention to the main content of the media. Ask questions about the topic explored in the media to activate prior knowledge. When necessary, provide any background information they may need to fully understand the media.

Ideas for Framing:  
Notice what words were used most often and what were the main topics addressed.
    • Inaugural Words: 1789 to the Present
      This interactive provides a look at the language of presidential inaugural addresses. The most-used words in each address appear in the interactive chart, sized by number of uses. Words highlighted in yellow were used significantly more in this inaugural address than average. Each entry links to the complete text.
  • Write inaugural speeches
After or reading about inauguration speeches, invite students to write their own inauguration speech. If they were to be elected president what would they want to say to the people. Students can write (here is a printable), then record their speeches. Teachers can publish to a class Vimeo channel where students can vote and comment on one another’s speeches.


Help viewers notice the important aspects of the media by providing them with a specific focus, something to look for while they interact with the media. Without a focus for viewing, participants will notice all sorts of interesting details - but not necessarily the idea or information you want them to focus on.

Ideas for Focusing:
  • Topic Chart
    Create a chart with space for topics on the top of each column. Prior to watching the inauguration, have students brainstorm unique headings for what they’ll be looking for when they view the event i.e. favorite quotes, people I recognize, what surprised me, what am I excited about, what people are wearing, etc. As students are viewing the inauguration have them fill in their charts.
  • Issue Sheet
    Consider creating a Google Sheet listing the presidents, the  issues (i.e. education, environment, economy, immigration), and how each president addressed the issues. Students as individuals, pairs, or groups can each be assigned a president and complete the sheet as they watch previous speeches. Then when watching the current speech, they can do the same.  
  • What are Tweeple Saying?
    Who will be Tweeting about Trump and what are they saying? Brainstorm with your class Twitter accounts that might have something relevant to Tweet about the inauguration.  


Provide an opportunity for viewers to summarize what they saw and did - because they will notice and experience different things, and not always what you expected! Re-telling and discussing helps consolidate understanding and remember it.

Ideas for Following-up:
  • Topic Chart
    • Publish an overview of findings
      If students complete topic charts, have them discuss what they found and publish an overview of their findings from the one column they found most interesting. This could be in the form of video, animation, writing, or whichever way a student feels is best for sharing.  
    • Write to the new president
      In the past, students were sometime encouraged to write letters to the president. Here’s a lesson for that. Today there are numerous digital ways to reach the president including submitting a message online or even messaging the president on Facebook. Visit this link to see how your students can contact the White House. Check out the below image to see what happened when I message the White House on Facebook.

  • Issue Sheet
    Have a discussion about the issues and what role students can have in addressing these issues at a local level. Point out how issues such as education, economy,immigration, and environment exist not only as a national issue, but right in your very community, school, and classroom. What actions have citizens taken historically to address these issues? What actions can your students take today to start addressing these issues? Perhaps this can be a launch for your own class or school government.
    • You may want to visit United We Serve, President Obama’s nationwide service initiative, which is built upon the belief that ordinary people can come together and achieve extraordinary things when given the proper tools. This program expands the impact of existing organizations by engaging new volunteers in their work and encouraging them to develop their own "do-it-yourself" projects.
    • Common Sense Education has this list of sites that can help students find a cause that matters to them.
  • What are Tweeple Saying?
    Have students discuss what Tweeps were saying across various types of accounts. Perhaps students can summarize using a tool such as Storify (if 13+) or the teacher could create a storify with class selected Tweets.  Consider replying to some Tweets for real-world engagement and publishing.  

  • Parental Consent: If students are publishing and/or using social media using their identity ensure you have parental consent.
  • School Guidance: For many families, the election results were troubling and have caused fear and anxiety. Partner with your school guidance counselor to implement these activities and address concerns your students may be feeling.
  • Inauguration Boycott: A growing number of elected officials and citizens are boycotting the inauguration citing his anti-woman, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim sentiments and promises they feel will affect the health and safety of Americans. You may have students and/or families who feel the same and would prefer their children be given alternate activities during this time. This lesson called "Resistance 101" was created as an introductory lesson, allowing students to “meet” people from throughout U.S. history who have who used a range of social change strategies.

So what do you think? Are there any ideas here that you may use where you teach? How might you modify or customize these ideas to work well with your students? Do you have other ideas? Please share in the comments.

No comments:

Post a Comment