President Obama’s Address to Students Across America September 8, 2009

Lesson Plans from the U. S. Department of Education


Below this fatuous letter I’m posting the lesson plans straight from Washington D. C. to the nation’s classrooms. These are prepared by 11 participants selected for inclusion in the Teaching Ambassadorship Fellowship Program. Your tax dollars at work.

Letter from Arne Duncan to site principals

Dear Principal:

In a recent interview with student reporter http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rP-695ATg-c, Damon Weaver, President Obama announced that on September 8 — the first day of school for many children across America — he will deliver a national address directly to students on the importance of education. The President will challenge students to work hard, set educational goals, and take responsibility for their learning. He will also call for a shared responsibility and commitment on the part of students, parents and educators to ensure that every child in every school receives the best education possible so they can compete in the global economy for good jobs and live rewarding and productive lives as American citizens.

Since taking office, the President has repeatedly focused on education, even as the country faces two wars, the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and major challenges on issues like energy and health care. The President believes that education is a critical part of building a new foundation for the American economy. Educated people are more active civically [sic] and better informed on issues affecting their lives, their families and their futures. Issues like living wage, health care, increasing militarism? torture?

This is the first time an American president has spoken directly to the nation’s school children about persisting and succeeding in school. We encourage you to use this historic moment to help your students get focused and begin the school year strong. I encourage you, your teachers, and students to join me in watching the President deliver this address on Tuesday, September 8, 2009. It will be broadcast live on the White House website www.whitehouse.gov at 1:00 p.m. eastern standard time.

In advance of this address, we would like to share the following resources: a menu of classroom activities for students in grades preK-6 http://www.ed.gov/teachers/how/lessons/prek-6.doc and for students in grades 7-12 http://www.ed.gov/teachers/how/lessons/7-12.doc. These are ideas developed by and for teachers to help engage students and stimulate discussion on the importance of education in their lives. We are also staging a student video contest on education. Details of the video contest will be available on our website http://www.ed.gov in the coming weeks.

On behalf of all Americans, I want to thank our educators who do society’s most important work by preparing our children for work and for life. No other task is more critical to our economic future and our social progress. I look forward to working with you in the months and years ahead to continue improving the quality of public education we provide all of our children.

Sincerely,

Arne Duncan

Ohanian Comment: I am trying to restrain myself from commenting on how boilerplate all these “activities” from the Ambassadors are. Admittedly, for many schools the activities would be a welcome change from the scripts. And how many schools in “those” neighborhoods will feel they can afford to be “off script” for this long–having discussions, making posters, writing poems?

Get real, Duncan.

Just keep in mind the horrible hypocrisy of all this. At the same time Duncan is sending out these flowery suggestions for classroom activities, he’s promoting changes in NCLB: According to an Associated Press story of Aug. 26, 2009, Under the new rules, states are to award the money to districts that take one of these approaches:

  • Close and reopen failing schools with new teachers and principals
  • Close and reopen failing schools under management of a charter school company or similar group
  • So how many schools in districts of desperate poverty are going to provide time for students to write poetry and make posters about their goals in life?

    PreK-6 Menu of Classroom Activities: President Obama’s Address to Students Across America
    Produced by Teaching Ambassador Fellows, U.S. Department of Education
    September 8, 2009

    Before the Speech:

    • Teachers can build background knowledge about the President of the United States and his speech by reading books about presidents and Barack Obama and motivate students by asking the following questions:
    Who is the President of the United States?
    What do you think it takes to be President?
    To whom do you think the President is going to be speaking?
    Why do you think he wants to speak to you?
    What do you think he will say to you?

    • Teachers can ask students to imagine being the President delivering a speech to all of the students in the United States. What would you tell students? What can students do to help in our schools? Teachers can chart ideas about what they would say.

    • Why is it important that we listen to the President and other elected officials, like the mayor, senators, members of congress, or the governor? Why is what they say important?

    During the Speech:
    • As the President speaks, teachers can ask students to write down key ideas or phrases that are important or personally meaningful. Students could use a note-taking graphic organizer such as a Cluster Web, or students could record their thoughts on sticky notes. Younger children can draw pictures and write as appropriate. As students listen to the speech, they could think about the following:
    What is the President trying to tell me?
    What is the President asking me to do?
    What new ideas and actions is the President challenging me to think about?

    • Students can record important parts of the speech where the President is asking them to do something. Students might think about: What specific job is he asking me to do? Is he asking anything of anyone else? Teachers? Principals? Parents? The American people?

    • Students can record any questions they have while he is speaking and then discuss them after the speech. Younger children may need to dictate their questions.

    After the Speech:
    • Teachers could ask students to share the ideas they recorded, exchange sticky notes or stick notes on a butcher paper poster in the classroom to discuss main ideas from the speech, i.e. citizenship, personal responsibility, civic duty.

    • Students could discuss their responses to the following questions:
    What do you think the President wants us to do?
    Does the speech make you want to do anything?
    Are we able to do what President Obama is asking of us?
    What would you like to tell the President?

    • Teachers could encourage students to participate in the Department of Education’s “I Am What I Learn” video contest. On September 8th the Department will invite K-12 students to submit a video no longer than 2 min, explaining why education is important and how their education will help them achieve their dreams. Teachers are welcome to incorporate the same or a similar video project into an assignment. More details will be released via http://www.ed.gov.

    Extension of the Speech: Teachers can extend learning by having students

    • Create posters of their goals. Posters could be formatted in quadrants or puzzle pieces or trails marked with the labels: personal, academic, community, country. Each area could be labeled with three steps for achieving goals in those areas. It might make sense to focus on personal and academic so community and country goals come more readily.

    • Write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president. These would be collected and redistributed at an appropriate later date by the teacher to make students accountable to their goals.

    • Write goals on colored index cards or precut designs to post around the classroom.

    • Interview and share about their goals with one another to create a supportive community.

    • Participate in School wide incentive programs or contests for students who achieve their goals.

    • Write about their goals in a variety of genres, i.e. poems, songs, personal essays.

    • Create artistic projects based on the themes of their goals.

    • Graph student progress toward goals.

    Grades 7-12 Menu of Classroom Activities: President Obama’s Address to Students Across America
    Produced by Teaching Ambassador Fellows, U.S. Department of Education
    September 8, 2009

    Before the Speech:
    • Quick Write or Think/Pair/Share (Students spend a few minutes Thinking and writing about the question: Paired with another student to discuss, then Sharing their ideas with the class as a whole). What do we associate with the words responsibility, persistence, and goals? How would we define each term? A teacher might create a web of student ideas for each of the words.

    • Quick Write or Brainstorm: What are your strengths? At what are you successful as a person/student? What makes you successful at these efforts? List at least three things you are successful at and why you feel successful with these tasks.

    • Short readings. Notable quotes excerpted (and posted in large print on board) from President Obama’s speeches about education. Teacher might ask students to think alone, compare ideas with a partner, and share their collaborations with the class (Think/Pair/Share) about the following: What are our interpretations of these excerpts? Based on these excerpts, what can we infer the President believes is important to be successful educationally?

    • Brainstorm or Concept Web: Why does President Obama want to speak with us today? How will he inspire us? How will he challenge us? What might he say?

    • Brainstorm or Concept Web: What other historic moments do you remember when the President spoke to the nation? What was the impact? Students could create a Cause/Effect graphic organizer.

    During the Speech:
    • Listening with a purpose: personal responsibility, goals, persistence. Teachers might ask pairs of students to create a word bank from the web of any one of the terms (personal responsibility, goals, or persistence) at the top of a double-column style notes page. On the right-hand side, students could take notes while President Obama talks about personal responsibility, or goals, or persistence, trying to capture direct quotations. At the end of the speech, students could then write the corresponding terms from the word bank in the left hand column, to increase retention and deepen their understanding of an important aspect of the speech.

    • Listening with a purpose: Inspiration and Challenges. Using a similar double-column style notes page as the one above, the teacher could focus students on quotations that either propose a specific challenge to them or inspire them in some meaningful way. Students could do this individually, in pairs or groups.

    Transition/Quick Review: Teachers could ask students to look over the notes and collaborate in pairs or small groups. What more could we add to our notes? Teachers might circulate and ask students questions such as: What are the most important words in the speech? What title would you give it? What’s the thesis?

    After the Speech:
    Guided Discussion:
    • What resonated with you from President Obama’s speech? What lines/phrases do you remember?

    • Who is President Obama addressing? How do you know? Describe his audience.

    • We heard President Obama mention the importance of personal responsibility. In your life, who exemplifies this kind of personal responsibility? How? Give examples.

    • How are we as individuals and as a class similar? Different?

    • Suppose President Obama were to give another speech about being educationally successful. Who could he speak to next? Who should be his next audience? Why? What would he say?

    • What are the three most important words in the speech? Rank them. What title would you give this speech? What’s the thesis?

    • What is President Obama inspiring you to do? What is he challenging you to do?

    • What do you believe are the challenges of your generation?

    • How can you be a part of addressing these challenges?

    Video Project:
    • Teachers could encourage students to participate in the Department of Education’s “I Am What I Learn” video contest. On September 8th the Department will invite K-12 students to submit a video no longer than 2 min, explaining why education is important and how their education will help them achieve their dreams. Teachers are welcome to incorporate the same or a similar video project into an assignment. More details will be released via http://www.ed.gov.

    Transition: Teachers could introduce goal setting in the following way to make the most of the extension activities.

    “When you set a goal, you envision a target you are going to reach over time. Goals are best when they are Challenging, Attainable, and Needed (CAN). For example, a good goal might be “I want to boost my average grade by one letter grade this year so I can show colleges I’m prepared.” But, every good goal also needs steps that guide the way. These steps keep you on track toward achieving your goal. For example, my first step might be, to improve by a letter grade in all subjects for each report card. My second step: to complete 100% of my homework for all my classes the first week of school. My third step: to study an extra hour for all my tests each marking period. My fourth step: to attend tutoring or get an adult to help me whenever I don’t understand something. My last step might be the most important: to ask an adult in my life to check on me often, to make sure I’m reaching each of my steps. Your steps should add up to your goal. If they don’t, that’s okay; we fix them until they do add up!

    Let’s hear another example of an academic goal for the year, and decide what steps would achieve that goal…

    Now I want you to write your own personal academic goal for this year and steps you will take to achieve it. We can revise our steps each marking period to make sure we are on track.”

    Extension of the Speech: Teachers can extend learning by having students

    • Create decorated goals and steps on index card sized material. The index cards could be formatted as an inviting graphic organizer with a space for the goal at the top and several steps in the remaining space. Cards could be hung in the room to create classroom culture of goal setting, persistence and success, and for the purpose of periodic review. (See “Example Handouts”).

    • Create posters of their goals. Posters could be formatted in quadrants or puzzle pieces or trails marked as steps. These could also be hung around the room, to be reviewed periodically and to create a classroom culture of goal setting and for the purpose of periodic review.

    • Interview and share their goals with one another and the class, establishing community support for their goals.

    • Create incentives or contests for achieving their personal goals.

    • Write about their goals and steps in a variety of genres, i.e. poems, songs, personal essays.

    • Create artistic representations of their goals and steps.

    — Arne Duncan & Teaching Ambassador Fellows, U.S. Department of Education
    Letter and activities for classroom use

    2009-08-27

    http://www.susanohanian.org/outrage_fetch.php?id=586

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    2 Comments

    Filed under Politics, Uncategorized

    2 responses to “President Obama’s Address to Students Across America September 8, 2009

    1. N Waff

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      He must have learned this tactic from Hugo Chavez or Fidel Castro – his mentors
      ========================
      Young minds must be indoctrinated – All hail Obama!!

    2. I turn on my TV this morning to the news and saw that the parents that did not want to participatein the president’s speech should be ashamed of themselves. Well this is what I think. Obama and his wife should be ashamed of their selves and the people that voted for him as well. This is suppose to be the land of the free to be able to make our own choice in life and not to be shamed into doing what we feel is wrong. I would be better off in Russia at least I know what I’m up against and what to expect. Obama you have made the US a laughing stock of the World take a good look around. I feel for your children’s future along with my grandchildren because it is apparent YOU and YOUR WIFE DON’T. Shame on you.

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