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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)