Inaugural Words: 1789 to the Present

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One of the reasons presidential inaugural speeches are so inspiring is the way word choice reflects the historical context of the time. An interactive timeline invites learners to click on their president of choice and view the most common words in each inaugural speech. Clicking on the words brings up the context of each word, as well as the other times that word appears in fellow presidents' addresses.

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CCSS: Adaptable
Instructional Ideas
  • Allow pupils to choose one president who piques their interest, and to conduct further research on that president using the selected words as themes for the project
  • Encourage groups or pairs to choose additional famous speeches, and to select the most common words in each
  • Assign an argument essay in which learners assess whether the selected words were actually representative of each president's adminstration
Classroom Considerations
  • Timeline only goes up to 2009; consider having class members analyze the inaugural addresses from years after 2009 to find the same word usage
  • Requires online access
  • A fantastic way to model the importance of word choice in speechwriting and informational text
  • Connects to both language arts and social studies in a meaningful way
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