Lesson Ideas for the State of the Union

By David - Feb 2013

State Of Union Address

The state of the union address is on Tuesday February 12th 2013 and provides a great opportunity for a class backchannel.

A quick recap for non US readers, the State of the Union is where the President of the United States addresses the United States Congress. The President reports on the condition of the nation and also provides an outline of their legislative agenda.

We've put together a few questions and discussion points that you can use during (or after the address).

Why does the President address Congress, what is the relationship between the two?

We are looking for students to identify the separation of powers, how Congress (Legislative) and the President (Executive) need to work together, hence his speech is focused on informing them of upcoming plans.

Does the President have a constitutional requirement to give Congress a State of the Union?

Article II, Section 3 does make reference to the President giving Congress a State of the Union, but it does not state the frequency or a time that is needed, however there is a tradition dating back to 1934 where the President gives the address in the early part of the year.

Is the address really for Congress?

Well technically it is, but its also used as a tool to communicate to the people of the United States, it's broadcast across most major networks.

Before the address:

What topics will the President discuss?

Some ideas: His gun control proposal, Job creation with initiatives such as infrastructure repair, immigration law reform and most likely controlling the deficit and debt.

What is the significance of the President selecting Abraham Lincoln's birthday for the address?

Was it intentional? Traditionally on the year where an inauguration takes place, the State of the Union is delayed until February, but hasn't been as late as 12th February in its current form.

Who writes the speech? Is it the President.

Its usually a selection of advisors, researchers, professional speechwriter who help him to write the speech.

After the address:

Was the President convincing? What points in his talk made it so.

What makes a good speech?

We are after items like: content, pacing, voice tone (style of delivery)

Was Marco Rubio's response convincing?

Its expected that he will focus on immigration. He will deliver his speech in both English and Spanish.

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