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After watching the State of the Union address, seniors write a “State of My Union” speech here
Language Arts, Social Studies
Title – The State of Your Union
By – Jennifer Milligan
Primary Subject – Language Arts
Secondary Subjects – Social Studies
Grade Level – 11-12
- 11.2.1; 11.2.2; 11.2.4; 11.2.6; 11.4.2; 11.4.4; 11.4.5; 11.5.3; 11.7.3; 11.7.4; 11.7.7;11.7.9; 11.7.10; 11.7.12; 11.7.16
Part One: Two Days
- Hand out State of the Union speech (easily downloaded from
- ). Students should pre-read the State of the Union address and break up the speech into the following format:
- a) Introduction
- b) Foreign Policy
- c) Domestic Policy
- d) Acknowledgement of Past,
- e) Specific plans/goals for the future
- Students should spend about 5-10 minutes on the pre-reading part and then watch a video recording of the State of the Union Address. This will probably take 1-2 class periods. I suggest having a handout where the students evaluate the speech with teacher generated questions that cover the content, audience reaction, specific questions geared to the Foreign Policy and Domestic Policy sections. This will ensure that students are actually watching the State of the Union.
- Follow up with a discussion over the items discussed in the State of the Union. Ask students what stuck out to them in the speech, how was the President’s message was received, how did he/she act during the speech. What could “you” emulate in your speaking habits? Etc.
Part Two: The State of Their Union.
- Junior-Senior year provides students with a vantage-point that they have never had before. For once, the end of their childhood years is almost over and the beginning of their adult lives is within sight. This awareness of themselves and their future will be the basis of their “State of My Union” speech.
- Like the President’s speech, this speech will be formal and taped. Each student should present themselves on the day of their speech in business attire.
- Students will need to submit a written “State of My Union” upon giving the speech. Speech must be typed with no errors. It should echo the look of the Presidents speech as far as paragraphing is concerned. Included are five areas to begin with, you and your class may want to add items after a discussion over the speech.
- Items necessary to the “State of My Union” speech.
- 1. Acknowledgement of past year or years
- 2. Goals met, challenges overcome, etc.
- 3. Foreign Policy: Addressing their place in the world, such as how they view what they contribute or what they COULD contribute and how they will achieve that goal, how they work with others in groups (teams, sports, etc).
- 4. Domestic Policy: Where they are going personally in the next year-three years. Just as the President’s speech focuses on education, economics, health care (possibly), and giving of time and talents, so should the writer’s.
- 5. Summation which includes their outlook and their goals.
- Total speech should be no less than 15 minutes, no more than 20.
- Whenever I have taught, I have always encountered resistance to dressing up for speeches. Explain to students that there are certain times when dressing in more formal attire is appropriate and necessary. I have heard from the private sector that when interviewing, students in high school do not understand the importance of dressing-up and presenting themselves in a business-like manner. Because of this, employers will give that person a “courtesy interview” and not the position they are seeking. Many employers want students to understand that there are “Do’s” and “Don’ts” to interviews, including dress. This may be a time when you could ask employers in your area what they think as far as dress goes and show the students in a handout what various jobs look for in a potential candidate and how important are first impressions. A prime example is when President Bush said “NO flip-flops or Sandals” with his White House staff.
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