Students review the origins of the State of the Union in the Constitution and then watch significant moments in selected historical addresses and identify important themes, continuities, and discontinuities.
Choices’ Teaching With The News resources provide educators with classroom-ready tools to bring current events into the classroom. The resources offer lesson plans, classroom activities, and discussion prompts to provide educators with tools to address complex issues and stories in the news.
These teaching resources cover a wide range of issues, including the controversy over President Trump’s Executive Order on immigration and refugee policy, the North Korean nuclear crisis, allegations of Russian election influence, and U.S.-China trade tensions.
The latest addition to the list of resources is The State of the Union Address, a lesson plan that helps students understand the constitutional basis and history of the State of the Union Address and guides them in viewing and analyzing the President’s speech.
Some additional ideas may help students evaluate the President’s speech and the Democratic response that follows:
President Trump is likely to talk about his domestic policy and foreign policy agendas. Ask students to record both and to star the agenda items he emphasizes most in his speech. Do students agree that these issues are most important? Which issues do students think are the most important ones facing the country?
For the first two years of President Trump’s term in office, Republicans held a majority in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. After the midterm elections in November 2018, Republicans still hold a majority in the Senate but Democrats hold a majority in the House of Representatives. In his speech, does the President mention this new reality and promote policies that will have bipartisan appeal (requiring the agreement or cooperation of both parties)?
After the President’s State of the Union Speech, the political party in opposition gives a response. What kinds of issues are raised in the Democratic response? How are the issues similar to or different from those raised by the President?
The 116th Congress has more women and people of color now than ever in its history. The person selected to give the response often is viewed as a rising star within the party. Whom did Democratic party leaders select to give the response? What do you think this person’s selection signals about the Democratic party?