Inaugural Activities From 8th Grade…

I pondered for some time what to do in my classroom for Inauguration Day. It didn’t seem appropriate for me to simply turn the television on, sit back, and let a day slip through my fingers without some greater lesson being taught. So, as a class we began by examining the oath of office as laid out in the Constitution:

Oath of Office
“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
Actually, after today my students probably knew the wording of the oath better than Chief Justice John Roberts (*wink*). As a class we took the words and rewrote the oath using synonyms. Full Disclosure: That idea was borrowed from other sources…

Rather than simply focusing on the speech of Barack Obama, we took a look at the Inaugural Addresses of five of our most famous President’s. However, 8th graders are not well suited to reading and understanding the full context of these speeches so I plugged each of them into wordle. This allowed students to examine the broad themes and main ideas of the speeches rather than get bogged down in detailed language.

Students were asked to examine the word clouds without knowing what President or even what time period from which they originated. As they looked over each one their task was to discover and write about the commonalities running through each, discover and write about the differences running through each, and finally write about anything unique they found within each speech.

President ?

President ?

President ?

President ?

President ?
While I wish I had more time to really dig into this activity, the kids did a great job finding the basic themes that ran through the speeches of these five important President’s. They were even able to figure out which speech belonged to which President for three out of the five. You can try out this activity in the comment section…

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get to looking at some of the modern addresses which have been captured for posterity. Check them out for yourself:

And today, Barack Obama

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