- The Washington Times - Monday, January 12, 2009

Teachers nationwide will have a chance to bring to their students President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration and the history lessons it can teach.

The American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association jointly developed five suggested lesson plans about the inauguration plus a recommended reading list, most of which are geared to grades six through 12, according to the Presidential Inaugural Committee.

The suggested plans are at the committee’s Web site, www.pic2009.org/content/lessonplans.

“We are thrilled to partner with the AFT and NEA to make these lesson plans available to teachers across the country,” the committee’s executive director, Emmett S. Beliveau, said in a statement. “We hope that these resources will help inspire students to learn more about this historic day.”

The idea for the suggested lesson plans came from the inaugural committee and it approached the NEA and AFT to draw them up, said committee spokesman Brent Colburn.

But, he said, NEA and AFT plans for lessons about election night Nov. 4 inspired the committee to suggest lesson plans focused on Mr. Obamas inauguration.

Some of the suggested plans focus on the historic nature of the inauguration of America’s first black president.

“It is crucial that our students understand that we are not only living history and making history with this inauguration, but also carrying forward the historical contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his influence on our incoming 44th president,” NEA President Dennis Van Roekel said in the same statement.

One of the suggested lesson plans asks teachers to generate discussion about the similarities between Mr. Obama and Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president whom historians regard as one of Americas greatest. It is entitled “Two Presidents from Illinois.”

Fifteen similarities were picked out, ranging from both entering the presidency during wartime to both having been lawyers before entering politics and from both having been criticized “for being too inexperienced to run the country” to both selecting political rivals to serve in their cabinets.

In addition, Mr. Obama plans to emulate Lincoln by using the same Bible at his inaugural swearing-in ceremony and taking a train to Washington for the inauguration.

Another suggested lesson is to have to students watch Mr. Obamas inaugural address, on TV or the Internet, and ask up to six questions in small groups.

Among them:

— “What vision does President Obama have for public education?”

— “What does he say divides us as a country and how does he want to unify and strengthen America?”

— “How will President Obama make our country more secure?”

— “What does President Obama ask Americans to do to help strengthen the country?”

The questions were produced by the inaugural committee and have no relationship between them and what Mr. Obama may say in his inaugural address, Mr. Colburn said.

The recommended reading list, which would be for elementary school children as well as older students, includes books about America’s fight for civil rights and the lives of Mr. Obama, King and Lincoln.

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