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Bringing the State of the Union into the Classroom

January 21, 2015

Social studies and civics classes are supposed to prepare students for active citizenship – so what better way to teach students than by asking them to engage with current events?

Ken Halla of Hayfield Secondary School in Fairfax, Virginia did exactly that with last night’s State of the Union address.    He and two other government teachers asked students to tweet at least three updates throughout the speech (most did 20 or 30). As a result, their hashtag, #hayfieldgovclass, became a trending topic in Washington, DC during the speech.

To help other teachers plan similar activities, Ken’s blog features pointers like guidelines on using word clouds (to get a sense of themes in speeches and compare liberal and conservative commentary), and tips on using hashtags to conduct a virtual discussion session outside of class. The blog also has some great resources for teachers to use in regular classroom hours, like an MSNBC voter poll on the speech.

There’s also a full video of SOTU, for anyone who missed it.  Just don’t forget to tweet your reaction.