As we try to heal from the events of January 6, 2021, and move forward, many in education are met with unease on how to proceed with Inauguration Day. Is it a topic to avoid or do you plan for it in hopes of providing a safe space for needed discussion with our youth? Navigating the current political landscape is a delicate art many in education may choose to avoid entirely, but I believe avoiding political discussions does not solve any of our problems nor does it quell the divisiveness in our society.
With a surge of misinformation in our social media feeds, teaching students how to have respectful and evidence-based conversations about politics and policy are crucial. School librarians are uniquely suited in assisting our teachers and students with political discussions. We are champions of truth as we teach the skills of recognizing credible sources, citing sources, using evidence to back claims, and evaluating information. As experts in this field, it is our duty to help teachers and students navigate through misinformation and facilitate these discussions with information literacy tools and knowledge.
The sources listed below were carefully curated in collaboration with the social science teachers at our middle school. By curating the resources listed below for them, I was able to assist in opening the door to larger, more meaningful discussions and able to share valuable tools to help teachers prepare for discussions with their students. To ease into these deeper conversations, we have focused on lesson ideas and resources THAT are objective in nature and include opportunities for students to develop their own point of view.
Resources for Discussing the Presidential Inauguration
C-SPAN Lesson for President-Elect Joe Biden. C-SPAN has created a one-stop shop for all your Inauguration Day lesson planning needs. Within this link you will find activities such as viewing guides, guiding questions, an evaluation rubric, and even a BINGO game. If you are looking to air the inauguration live in your space, C-SPAN.org will offer a livestream without commentary.
Teaching Tolerance. While this resource is from 2017, it offers a range of ideas and links on inaugural history, including poetry, graphics, and analysis of equal voice in the voting system. For those wishing to dig deeper into the discussions around struggles of constitutional voting rights, this resource will be helpful.
Flipgrid Discussion. This gem of a lesson idea from Sharon Hall came across my screen as I was trying to find ways of hosting discussions virtually for our online learning students. Using recordings of previous inauguration speeches, students will compare and contrast the speeches and then share their reflections on a Flipgrid response video. You can even add in a graphic organizer of your choosing if you wish to have students complete a written reflection prior to recording.
The American Presidency Project. Perhaps you or your teachers wish to focus on the inaugural addresses of the past. The American Presidency Project by UC Santa Barbara, a non-partisan online source, has linked to each inaugural speech from President Washington in 1789 through President Trump in 2017. In the table of contents on the left, documents related to transition of power are also linked.
iCivics. Games, slide decks, infographics, and more are included in this page hosted by iCivics. iCivics provides quality and engaging civic education in order for students to be prepared and enthusiastic for citizenship. Two links of note included is a lesson on the first 100 days of office for the president and a lesson on the role of the vice president.
For more resources, visit this curated collection on Wakelet.
Author: Martha Bongiorno
Martha Bongiorno is a school librarian in metro Atlanta and also serves as the current President-Elect of the Georgia Library Media Association. A past AASL Social Media Superstar for Advocacy, Martha’s passion projects include empowering other school librarians and embedding social-emotional literacy in the library. You can connect with her on Twitter @mrs_bongi or Instagram @mrs_bongiorno.