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Yes We Can – Watch the Inauguration January 17, 2009

Posted by alwaysjan in Politics, Teaching.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,


My third grade students almost missed watching the inauguration of Barack Obama.  Last Tuesday it hit me.  Although I have a TV in my classroom (won in a raffle), I’ve only used it to show videos and DVDs.  Because of the mountains in Southern California, you can’t get decent TV reception unless you have cable or a satellite dish. So how were my students going to watch Barack Obama take the presidential oath?   No matter your political bent, this is History with a capital H!

I  talked to my husband aka “Tech Support” about our options.  On any given day the internet is down in my classroom.  (To be fair, when we got a new school superintendent, he was appalled at the sad state of technology in our district, but that’s Another Story).  I know teachers who are taking Tuesday off because they don’t want to miss this historic event.  How sad is that?    .

I emailed my room parent to ask if she had any ideas.  (And no, I don’t name names, but I am arranging to have her face carved on Mt. Rushmore.)  I was willing to invite my students to watch the inauguration at my house (and yes, I would have obsessively cleaned for third graders), but parents aren’t allowed to drive students on field trips.  Dedicated teacher that I am, I wasn’t willing to put my job security on the line and commandeer a bus (not in this economy).

My room parent is one of those “can do” people, who can move mountains. (I just point to where I want it moved.) When my sons were in school in New York City, I was always a room parent, and I’d like to think that my sons’ teachers thought of me in the same way.  But then I was never “put to the test.”  I excelled at collecting money from parents and making sure there were enough cupcakes for class parties.

Within 20 minutes of my email, my room parent had come up with a plan.  I had to (take a deep breath) call my principal at home to get the okay.  My principal thought it sounded “fabulous!”  The very next day, each student received a personal invitation to the presidential inauguration.

So I don’t know how you’re spending Inauguration Day, but this is what my “future leaders of tomorrow” will be doing.  As soon as the Start bell rings. we’re going on a “Walking Field Trip” to a restaurant three blocks from the school.  My room parent knows the owner.  Although the restaurant doesn’t open until lunch, they’re letting my class watch the inauguration in the back room on the big screen TV AND serving them breakfast. (My room parent said she’d take care of that.)

One of my students is bringing her mother and her grandmother, so you’re welcome to join us.  All of the permission slips have been returned, and the students are psyched.  Because they’re third graders, now they want to know about the really important stuff – like what’s to eat?

Why is this so important to me?  This year I have a cluster of English Language Learners (ELLs) and most of their parents are here on student visas or aren’t citizens, so they didn’t even vote.  And unlike in years past, I only have three African-American students this year.  But I understand the significance of the election of the first African American president for ALL Americans.  My students (who are 8 and 9) might not fully appreciate this now, but years from now I want to them to remember how they spent this day, and that they shared it with me – their teacher.

On Friday, as they got ready to leave, I asked my students, “Are you going to come to school on Monday?”  I got a resounding NO.  They all know it’s Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday. (Third graders are SO smart.)

“Are you going to come to school on Tuesday?” I asked.  “Yes!” they said in unison, barely able to contain their excitement.  “Don’t be late, ” I reminded them.  “We have a date with history!”

Note to Teachers: So many teachers have read this post after plugging in the search term “inauguration lesson plans for third grade.”  My amazing room parent also bought me a subscription to edHelper.com. so I was able to put together a four-page Inauguration packet filled with puzzles and activities.


1. Deb Estep - January 17, 2009

Awww Jan you are just the most AMAZING teacher. Hopefully you can round up the kiddies for a group photo with YOU in it.
That is one way to ensure they will have some evidence of their day to help them remember. LOL

The president makes the following oath or affirmation on
inauguration day:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Being an Air Force Mom, I can say that my son took an oath
joining the military. As do all military. These are the words….

The Oath of Enlistment (for enlistees):

“I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

If any of the children in your class have family members who have
served or are serving, they might be interested to know that those families members have had a swearing in just like Barack Obama
will do Tuesday.

I hope you will post a follow up of your day. 🙂


2. Bev from England - January 18, 2009

Awwwwww youre really great jan !! and how abs fab of your room parent to arrange this for you all. It will surely be a day to remember ! It IS history in the making and it will be so wonderful for th kids in years to come when the magnitude of it all will be more apparent to them !

Enjoy ! and sure, ill come with you… itll have to be in spirit form as its a bit far for me to come in person but Im with u all !



3. elissestuart - January 18, 2009

Jan –
While I’ve known about this for a week, it is still good to read it in a post.
How exciting for your students. take lots of photos…at least 30. The restaurant, the kids, group shots, syrupy faces….be excessive….
Send them to me and I will put them in a special album for you and your class.
This will be a day that they will always remember.


4. lilikaofthelake - January 19, 2009

Oh Jan how wonderful! Our school here in Wisconsin is also doing it up big with a mass assembly both today and tommorow. The kids here have a lot of make up work to do because last week we had three snow(cold) days off from school. Waldorf teachers training says that who you are in the third grade (the time of great change) is who you will be for the rest of your life, personality wise. So what an amazing and profound experience for you to be a part of these childrens lives. And they yours.
Have fun living history tommorow!! Next stop a woman president!


5. Catherine Sherman - January 19, 2009

You are a fantastic teacher, and it’s great that you are going on a field trip because that will enhance the experience. I still remember going to the school cafeteria to watch space launchings. That’s not quite the same, but you knew it was a big deal. No big screen back in those days!

We’ll be watching the inauguration live in Australia at 4 a.m. on Wednesday, I think.


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