Politics

Teaching resources & approaches

Getting started on US politics - Great Presidential Speeches!

Ruth Tarrant

8th September 2016

A great way of building some historical context and understanding for students of US government and politics is to build in some drama to your lessons. Here's a suggestion for encouraging students to take on the dramatis personae of US Presidents - past and present.

I really like the Miller Center's website for all things Presidential - it's an absolute treasure trove of facts, key events during all presidencies, and - crucially for this activity - transcripts (and recordings where possible) of famous speeches from all US Presidents.

  1. Students should each choose - or be allocated - a different President
  2. Each student then needs to find out key pieces of information about that president. This could include dates, party, key events during their presidency, any quirky facts.
  3. Each student then needs to select ONE important speech by that president (from the Miller Center Speech Archive) and rehearse its delivery, or delivery of part of that speech.
  4. If you have time, students could be given some homework time to find appropriate props or outfits that they can use when they deliver their speech to the class.
  5. Each student gets 5 minutes to become that President - they should provide a brief biography to their peers before launching into their speech.
  6. You can extend this activity by getting students to analyse key events that might have prompted the need for the speech, analyse the likely effectiveness of the speech, and ultimately, whether good oratory skills are essential in giving presidents the "power to persuade".

Ruth Tarrant

Ruth has been an enthusiastic Head of Economics and Politics for many years, having taught in a variety of schools and at university level. She is also a Senior Examiner. Ruth is passionate about boosting the quality of teaching and learning across all subjects in schools and colleges.

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