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Thursday, January 20, 2011

State of the Union

President Obama delivers the State of the Union Address in 2010

K-12 Civic Learning Opportunity: The State of the Union


The State of the Union address will be January 25, 2011 at 9:00 PM. It will be televised on major networks and news channels. The text is usually printed the next morning in the newspaper, and the video available online. Kids Voting Mecklenburg will post the text and video on its Civic Learning Center, (also accessible from the main website
UPDATE: See video and text links below in "Learn More" section.

The address is held at the US Capitol, in Washington, DC. It happens each January, after each year of the President’s 4-year term begins on January 20. It is an annual address presented before a joint session of Congress and held in the House of Representatives Chamber at the U.S. Capitol. The address reports on the nation, and allows the President to outline his legislative agenda and national priorities to Congress and the American public.

Who attends?

Three branches of the federal government: Executive (President and Cabinet), Legislative (Congress) and Judicial (Supreme Court). At least one important official is selected to not attend. This is so that someone is available in the event something bad happens to the many important leaders who will be meeting in one location.

First Lady and Special Guests: often, the President will invite guests who have been newsworthy or who represent a topic he will address. For example, if he plans to talk about education he may invite a teacher. The guests sit in the balcony with the First Lady.

What is discussed?

The President may cover a variety of topics such as:
  • Afterschool Programs
  • Children/ Youth
  • Cities
  • College
  • Economy
  • Environment
  • Global issues
  • Government
  • Health
  • Housing
  • Jobs
  • Justice
  • K-12 Education
  • Leadership
  • Military
  • NASA
  • Political parties
  • Research
  • Safety
  • Taxes
  • Technology
  • Terrorism
  • Working together

Learning opportunity

The State of the Union is a great civic learning opportunity. Students watch or read the State of the Union address and think critically about the speech, its content, how it is communicated and how it is reported.

Fun, educational activities are available from Kids Voting Mecklenburg. Teachers and parents can modify based on grade level or subject area. For example, focus students on the community, North Carolina, the United States or another country. Connect this to history, literature or in a global community. Write a headline and compare the headlines from different news sources. Evaluate the President's communication skills.

Students may watch the State of the Union live, watch it in class or read the text. There are many opportunities for writing, reading, small group discussion and oral presentation. The activity aligns with several core standards.

 Skills include:

  • Persuasion
  • Critical thinking
  • Analysis
  • Reading
  • Active listening
  • Writing
  • Civic literacy
  • Media literacy
  • Collaboration
  • Civic leadership
  • Local and State Government
  • Federal Government
  • Effective communication
  • Family dialogue
  • Group discussion
  • Connecting historic events, personal knowledge, current events or global life

Learn more

Download State of the Union Activities from Kids Voting Mecklenburg Includes predicting and evaluating the topics, connecting to government, writing and analyzing news headlines, active listening, communications skills and more

Text of 2011 State of the Union Address

Video of 2011 State of the Union Address
YouTube version

Text of Opposition Response
Video of Opposition Response

The American Presidency Project History of State of the Union Address, copies of speeches, lists of guests, opposition responses and more Check out the facts from the State of the Union address and the Opposition Response

News media (variety of sources - access links for news headline activity on Activity page)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Do you have a dream, too?


Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) worked to advance civil rights in the United States and around the world. A minister, King became a civil rights activist at an early age. At the 1963 March on Washington, King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech, where he outlined his vision, or dream, for our country. In 1964, King became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to end racial inequality.

That was MLK's dream. What's yours? Here's an easy and meaningful activity for school or home - a great opportunity for students to envision their “dreams”, think about what makes their dreams a reality, and share this information with others.

Modify this activity based on your grade level or subject area. For example, you can focus students on the community, North Carolina, the United States or another country. They might role-play a character in history, literature or in a global community.

Students of all ages can write about their dream, work in small groups or share with the class. The activity aligns with several core standards.
  • Skills include: Persuasion, Critical thinking, Analysis, Reading, Active listening, Writing, Civic literacy, Planning, Collaboration, Civic leadership, Effective communication, Government and Connecting historic events, personal knowledge, current events or global life

Do you have a dream?

  1. What does it mean to have a vision, idea, or dream for your country? Can you have a dream for your neighborhood? School? City? State? World?
  2. Think of something that is important to you. Here are some general topics: Animals, Schools, Sports, The environment, Safety, Jobs, Families, Health
  3. Now, think a little harder. What do you see that needs to change about your topic (animals, schools, the environment, etc.)?  An example might be that you dream of more trees in Charlotte so that children have air to breathe and birds have places to live. Or, you might want more teachers and textbooks at your school, so you can learn more.
  4. Are there examples of other people who have been working to make a similar dream come true? How did they do it? Did that make them a leader?
  5. Who do you need to talk to, or influence, to make your dream happen? Make a list. It could include community leaders, kids, adults, teachers, parents, school principals, the mayor, school board, city government, state government, news media, President, global leaders or others. As appropriate to the grade level, be specific about the levels of government and your topic area.
  6. How will you communicate your dream? How will their support make a difference?
  7. How long will it take for your dream to become real? Outline the general steps it will take.  Sometimes it is helpful to start at the end and work backwards.
  8. Now, think again about your dream – what’s the first step you can take to make it happen? Do it!
Web resources

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Kicking off 2011 budgets

The CMS school board will meet today at 2PM instead of its regular meeting time. This meeting is an important one. The Superintendent will outline possible budget cuts.

Watch it online:
Read Charlotte Observer updates:

Over the next few months, the local and state governments will be making decisions about budget priorities. Kids Voting Mecklenburg will help you to better understand this process, with resources about what the governments do, the people who are in charge, the roles of citizens and leaders and how to get involved. We will also give you an opportunity to weigh in on the budget priorities being decided  - if you were in charge, where would you put your budget dollars?

Let us know what you are interested in learning and how we can help!