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Gail S Hennessey's picture
Gail Skroback Hennessey taught for over 33 years, teaching sixth grade in all but two years. She earned a BA in early secondary education with a concentration in social studies and an MST in social...
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State of the Union Address is January 30th

The founding fathers stated in the Constitution that the President "shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”
It wasn’t spelled out HOW the president was to do this or even when such an update should be given. The State of the Union Address has taken many forms since the birth of our nation. It has come to be an annual speech given by the President of the United States and is done in the month of January. In 2018, the address will be given on January 30th.
Did You Know?
  1. Originally called the “Annual Message”, it was Franklin Delano Roosevelt who first used the phrase the "State of the Union" address. Interestingly, the words “State of the Union” appear in the U.S. Constitution.
  2. Although there are not assigned seats for the State of the Union Address, usually Senators sit on the sides and members of the House sit in the middle of the House chamber.
  3. Benjamin Harrison didn’t give a State of the Union Address as he was only president for 31 days. He caught a cold during his Inauguration Day ceremonies and died soon after. He was the first president to die while in office.  The only other president to not give a State of the Union Address was James Garfield. He was assassinated.
  4. One member of the President’s cabinet does not attend the State of the Union Address. This “designated survivor” is taken to a secret location until the end of the speech.
  5. President James  Polk announced during his speech that gold was discovered in California!
  6. The State of the Union Address is given to the Congress at the U.S. Capitol.
  7. During his last State of the Union Speech, President Harry S. Truman announced that a hydrogen bomb had been developed.
Your Turn:
  1. If the President can not continue in his/her office, who is next in line in the Succession Act?___________ Do you know who is next in the list if this person can not take over the duties as the President?_________________
  2. What would be ONE issue that you would focus on as President? Why? ________________________________________
  3. Find 10 nouns in the Did You Know? list. ____________________________________________ Find 10 verbs in the Did You Know? list. ______________________________________________
  4. Why do you think there is a member of the cabinet  picked as the “designated” survivor? ___________________________
  5. Write ONE fact you know about the U.S. Capitol Building.___________________________
Teacher Page:
1. Ask the students if they have any prior knowledge about the State of the Union Address. Next, have the students read over the fact sheet and do the You Turn.
2. Regroup and discuss
3. You may want to share with students the Order of Presidential Succession: 

Click here for the downloadable Freebie Fun Facts version:

Check out this resource to have students learn more about the history of the State of the Union Address. There are 10 web questions, 9 Did You Know? Facts, 6 comprehension questions, a student page(handout to give for homework or extra credit for the night of the State of the Union Address), a teacher page with a couple of extension activities and the key to both the web quest and the comprehension questions.  This would be a great opportunity to bring the news into the classroom with the 2018 State of the Union Address scheduled for January 30th.
Gail Skroback Hennessey