Lesson Plan: The State of the Union

Date: January 28, 1998

Objectives: The students will

I. analyze the text of the state of the union address to understand its content.

II. illustrate how the state of the union address involves both the legislative and executive branches of government.

III. identify the issues discussed by the President in the state of the union address.

IV . Determine what policies should be put into place according to the agenda set by the President in the State of the Union address.
Warm Up Activity (Anticipatory Set): Issues Facing the Nation (Brainstorming Session)

A) Divide the class into teams of four or five students.

B) Direct the students to develop a list of five issues that they believe are important to the welfare of the nation.

C) Instruct the students to prioritize their responses from the most important to the least important.

D) Once the students have their lists ready, allow each group to read and post their list.

E) Create a master list by combining any responses that are identical to each other. If two responses overlap, list them as separate problems.

F) Instruct the groups to develop a statement of one-to-two sentences that makes a case for one of the problems listed by the class as "the most important issue facing the issue today." Once the groups have their statements, allow each group to present and discuss their views.

G) Ask students: " Which issues listed here or NOT listed here do you think will be mentioned by the President in his speech. If students have already seen the speech or highlights of it, then the question should read "Which issues listed here did the President discuss? Which ones did he omit? Why do you think he chose the issues that he did?

Main Activity (Instructional Input): Watching and Learning from the State of the Union Address

The full text of the 1998 State of the Union Address can be found at http://www.abcnews.aol.com/sections/us/sotutranscript0127/

The Republican response is located on the Internet at http://www.abcnews.aol.com/sections/us/goptranscript0127/index.html

A) Distribute to students the worksheet that uses the transcript of the speech to analyze the president's accomplishments and proposals.

B) Allow students to complete the vocabulary section in partner-pairs before watching the video of the speech. Review vocabulary terms orally and have students make corrections as the discussion develops.

B) Allow students to complete the worksheet as they watch.

C) Stop the tape to allow students time to discuss concepts and ideas and allow them to fill in answers.

D) Review the worksheet orally when the speech is complete.

Examples (Modeling): Reacting To The Speech: A Leadership Roundtable

A) Divide the class into the following groups with 4 or 5 members to a group (previous groups can be used again). These group titles have been linked to appropriate Internet sites that can help students learn more about their groups.

The teacher will direct questions at each of the groups allowing members of the groups to respond orally. The other groups may respond to the students if they have a position. Grant points to each group that effectively argues its point about the speech. A rubric-scale from 1 to 10 can be used to evaluated student written and verbal responses.

1) The President's cabinet.
2) The Republican Party leadership (Information on the GOP Response to the State of the Union can be found at http://www.rnc.org/news/response98/index.html)
3) The Editorial Board of  the Washington Post
4) The Diplomatic Delegation from the United Nations
5) A group of local politicians from your home town.

B) Assign each group the job associated with their group. After one or two class periods in the library and using the Internet, each group must write a one-paragraph reaction to the President's speech. Students should research their character's position and how it relates to the presidency, and students should examine what the president said in his speech in relation to their character. Library research time is used to gather notes and supporting information for student writings. Students must respond to the questions/statements that are listed with the job they are assigned below, and they must be ready to state if they agreed or disagreed with the main points of the speech.

1) The President's cabinet: Each member must assume the character of one following major cabinet members:

Each cabinet member must write a paragraph containing comments that pertain to their area in the government. They should state why they support or disagree with the President's position as stated in the speech.

2) The Republican Party Leadership: Each member of the group must take on one of the following characters:

3) The Washington Post Editorial Board: Students must divide their group evenly between pro-Clinton and anti-Clinton forces. Students in the pro-Clinton camp must write a brief editorial that supports the president's positions on the major issues. Students in the anti-Clinton camp must write a paragraph editorial criticizing the president. The writers must have specific examples of what they agree with or disagree with.

4) The UN Diplomatic Corps: The following members of the UN Diplomatic corps should react to Clinton's speech. Each character must respond to the speech by commenting how the policies outlined in the speech will effect the role he or she plays in world affairs.

5) A Group of politicians from your home town. Students must write a paragraph indicating how the policies outlined in the speech will have an effect on the quality of life on the local level. Students may want to tackle the following issues individually and present their viewpoints on those issues:

Guided Practice: Role Play: A Political Roundtable on the State of the Union.

A) Students should be in the groups they were in previously.

B) The teacher will act as moderator between the various groups, who make up panels of experts  responding to the President's speech.

C) The teacher will direct questions at each of the groups allowing members of the groups to respond orally. The other groups may respond to the students if they have a position. Grant one point to each group that effectively argues its point about the speech. These questions are only suggestions. Teachers may choose to add or replace these with their own. The teacher has the option to inform the group of the questions before the speech is viewed, or the teacher can surprise the students after they have viewed the speech.

To the President's cabinet: How do you explain the president's achievements since he took office in 1993? What are you recommending to the president should be done with a budget surplus? What steps should future presidents take to maintain the surplus?

To the Republican Party Leadership: What programs would you suggest cutting or abolishing to maintain the budget surplus? What do you feel are the most important issues facing the nation today? How will your party regain the White House in 2000?

To the Washington Post Editorial Board: How has the press tried to report on the actions of the President fairly? How do we know what you have been reporting is reliable?

To the UN Diplomatic Corps: How should the US act as the military and economic leader of the world? Should the US relax restrictions against Iraq? In which areas of the world should the US intervene? Where should the US stay out?

To The Group of politicians from your home town: How have the policies of the President had an effect on the quality of life in your town? Do you believe the proposals found in the State of the Union Address will improve life or detract from the quality of life on your community?

Check For Understanding: Have students take a short quiz on the issues and positions relating to the State of the Union speech. (Not yet ready)

Homework (Independent Practice): A Presidential Scrapbook

Have students maintain a scrapbook of articles from newspapers or from the Internet on the President's actions after the speech is given. Have them include articles that relate to the issues presented in the speech. Suggestion: Create a chart in class where articles can be posted according to the issues they discuss.
Wrap-Up Activity (Closure): Student-Generated Quiz

A) Based on the terms and phrases that the students were able to locate in their examination of the media, develop a short matching quiz.

B) Give the quiz, have students correct each other's work, and discuss answers orally.

???A 20-question quiz on the State of the Union Address is now available.

Evaluation: The lesson will be evaluated by:

I. the accuracy of student's written responses;

II. student's scores on future tests and quizzes.


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