Teaching About the Inauguration

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When you teach English at high school level, you sometimes teach about civilization. So when the 44th president of the United States is about to take the presidential oath, you feel you have to share the event with your students.

Obviously I had been thinking about it for a few weeks, had browsed numerous websites but couldn’t find anything I really liked. One thing I didn’t want to do was to talk about politics and economics. I feel I am no expert on those subjects. For instance before the election itself, I had the impression comparing McCain’s and Obama’s political platforms would be a bit boring for my students.

Thus when I came across Cynthia‘s blog post about JFK’s inauguration, I knew I had found the answer. Cynthia recalls how, as a teenager, she attended the inauguration thanks to the generosity of her parents and how it shaped her future life as an activist, as a journalist and above all as a mom.

I created a worksheet since the post is too difficult for my students to read without any help and hoped for the best with a group of teenagers who chose to do more English but have never really shown a keen interest for the subject in class.

I started by asking them why today was special for America and encouraged them to tell me what they knew about Barack Obama. I then gave them the worksheet and they spent about 30 minutes in silence reading the post and trying to fill in the worksheet.

We then corrected it and it provided me with many opportunities to explain what inauguration day is all about. It also enabled me to draw comparisons between the two events and the two men. For the first time since September I could read interest in their eyes and some students even asked questions, which delighted me even if they were in French.

Thanks Cynthia for this great post.

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9 thoughts on “Teaching About the Inauguration

  1. Interesting class assignment.. Friends from all over the world have been extremely interested in our election and the inauguration. I wish I could read what your students had to say.

  2. This inauguration is momentous for so many reasons. I’m sure you had no difficulty in finding interesting things for your students to study. It sounds like a lesson well done.

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