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#SOTU, wordles, and historical thinking

Tough choice. Today is Kansas Day. Last night was the 2014 State of the Union address.

What to write about? I mean . . . it’s Kansas Day. How cool is that? Renovated capitol building. Cool resources. Buffalo. Sunflowers. Wide open spaces.

But it’s the #SOTU. How cool is that? As an old poly sci major, there’s nothing like listening to a good political speech. Heck, sometimes even the bad ones are fun. And the 2014 State of the Union had the best of everything – all three branches of government in one place, cranky opposition, pundits, social media, Sarah Palin references, multiple GOP / Tea Party responses, and no out of control yelling from the audience.

So today you Kansas Day fans are on your own.

How best to use last night’s festivities? Some thoughts:

1. Use the official White House site for video clips, official transcripts, behind the scenes, and other goodies.

2. Big Block of Cheese Day. If you’re a West Wing  fan, you know exactly what this is.

The current White House has tapped into that idea and is hosting a Virtual Big Block of Cheese Day. Sweet. What sorts of questions would your kids ask? Who would they ask? How would they ask?

3. Have kids fact check both the SOTU and the different Republican responses. Discuss sources for this information – where can we find the facts? Are there citations available from the White House and the Republican party? FactCheck and PolitiFact are also good for that sort of thing. Have them compare two different news sites to see how the fact checking might be different – CNN (or here) and Fox News, for instance.

4. Using either the Library of Congress and National Archives document analysis worksheets, have students break down both the speech and the social media response to the speech.

5. Use to help kids visualize themes in both the SOTU and the Republican response. Actually this year, three different Republican responses. Official. Tea Party. Tea Party / Libertarian / Running for President. How are they different? The same? Why are they different? Why the same?

President Barack Obama‘s speech

sotu 2014

Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers with the official Republican response

gop response

Representative Mike Lee with the Tea Party response

lee tea party response

Senator Rand Paul with the Tea Party / Libertarian / Running for President response

rand tea party response

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jennifer #

    Hi Glenn,

    I used Wordle to compare this year’s SOTU to last year’s SOTU. We discuss similarities and differences in the two and brainstorm why some words are bigger/smaller as compared to last year. Students came up with some great reasons for differences between the two! I didn’t think to “Wordle” the Republican response for comparison. Thanks for the tip!

    January 30, 2014
    • glennw #

      And I never thought about comparing current address with past ones! I like that idea even better. Nice! (Now my head is spinning a bit. Compare different presidents. Different decades. Mmm . . . )

      Thanks for a great idea!


      January 30, 2014

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