Lesson Idea: The State of the Union Address

Overview:

Article. II. Section. 3. of the Constitution, requires the President of the United States to inform Congress of the state of our nation. The President fulfills this constitutional obligation in his State of the Union Address in which he discusses the issues our country is facing and provides proposals for the coming year.
 
Objectives:
 
Students will identify the constitutional requirement for the State of the Union address, examine the issues presented in State of the Union speeches, and analyze President Obama’s proposals for each issue.
 
Materials:
 
Procedure:
  1. Ask students to share what they know about the State of the Union Address.  Why does the President give this speech every year? Who attends the address? What topics are typically covered in the speech? As a class introduction, view the following video clip to provide a brief history of the speech.

    State of the Union Address Program (2 min.):
    Article. II. Section. 3.: “He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union”

     
  2. View President Obama’s State of the Union Address from February 12, 2013 (1 hour 19 mins.)
    As students watch the video, have them complete the chart on the handout. Which issues did President Obama discuss during his speech? What actions did he propose to take? Discuss the outcomes of his proposals over the past year as a class.
     
  3.  As a homework assignment, ask students to watch this year's State of the Union Address on C-SPAN, and fill in the remaining sections on their handout.
     
  4.  Have students share their individual responses to the President’s speech. This can be done through an online classroom discussion forum or in small group discussions in class.
     
  5.  We would love to hear some of your students’ responses! You can share your comments on our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/CSPANClassroom 
 
Extensions:
Students may view historical State of the Union Addresses given by past presidents to compare and contrast.
 
 
January 27, 1966: President Lyndon Johnson(D)
 
January 27, 1974: President Richard Nixon (R)
 
January 12, 1977: President Gerald Ford (R)
 
January 23, 1980: President James Carter (D) 
 
January 25, 1988: President Ronald Reagan (R)
 
 
January 23, 1996: President William Clinton (D)
 
January 29, 2002: President George W. Bush (R)
 
January 26, 2010: President Barack Obama (D)