The ultimate guide to helping your students experience the presidential inauguration

presidential inauguration at washington dc

Every presidential inauguration is historic and this year’s is no exception. Although the pandemic has foiled our plans to bring teachers and students together in Washington, D.C., this time around, that won’t prevent us here at EF Explore America from helping students learn about and experience the presidential inauguration virtually. We’ve created a unique virtual event for students on Inauguration Day. Not only will attendees hear from thought leaders and historians, they’ll participate in interactive workshops led by experts (and so much more). Register here for the EF Inauguration Watch Party.

We’ve also compiled a list of classroom resources to help you (we see you, teachers!) support political conversation, learnings, and engagement among your students. You can use these before or after the EF Inauguration Watch Party, too. And, as a bonus, we can help you and your students explore Washington, D.C., from home while we wait to get back on the road again.

Take a look below to learn more about EF Explore America’s virtual presidential inauguration event, snag some teaching resources, and experience our nation’s capital.

Explore Washington, D.C.

EF’s 2021 Presidential Inauguration Watch Party
It’s one thing to experience history firsthand—it’s another to understand the history you’re experiencing. Every year when there’s a presidential inauguration, EF Explore America runs tours to Washington, D.C. Students have the opportunity to stand on the National Mall and watch the swearing in of the president. Not only do these tours include this historical moment, students also discover more about the United States’ past through EF’s exclusive programming.

Although this year is a unique one (to say the least) and we can’t be together in person, it doesn’t mean students have to miss out on this moment in history and the significant learning experiences that come with it. So, for this presidential inauguration, the EF Explore America team is getting creative—not only will students be able to watch the inauguration in real-time, they’ll also be able to experience a slew of educational programs and sessions held by incredible thought leaders and EF’s educational partners.

We partnered with Hopin to host a day-long virtual inauguration event for students and teachers. Throughout the day, there will be many inauguration activities for students including interactive workshops, expos, sessions, and even performances. Students will hear from some of EF’s partners including Peter Yeo, the Senior Vice President of the United Nations Foundation and President of the Better World Campaign, Rachel Pittman, the Executive Director of the United Nations Association of the USA, and Joshunda Sanders, an award-winning author and educator.

Along with these remarkable speakers, there will be interactive sessions for students to attend. Although physically going to Mount Vernon (part of a regular Washington D.C. tour) isn’t feasible right now, students can attend a virtual session where representatives from George Washington’s home estate will show them what makes the inauguration ceremony such an important part of the American democratic process.

Our partner, the Freedom Forum, will also host two sessions on the First Amendment—one where students will learn their rights and one where they’ll learn how to exercise those rights. Both sessions include panels of Constitutional Scholars so students can ask any questions regarding freedom of speech, freedom of the press, or any other freedom protected by the First Amendment.

Another session held by our partner Planet Word will look at past inauguration speeches and discuss what makes a good speech. Students will even be able to analyze the new president’s inauguration address and consider the historical impact the day it happens.

Watch and listen to EF Explore America’s virtual inauguration programming

Teaching resources
With the presidential inauguration approaching, teachers may feel compelled to incorporate political learning into their curriculums. It can be difficult (and even intimidating) to create effective lessons centered around politics or current events. Even though politics is often a challenging topic, helping students understand the value of democracy and the significance of using their voices once they’re eligible to vote, can have a lifelong impact.

To help support your lesson plans and make teaching politics a little easier, we’ve compiled a list of teacher resources. Whether you want to focus on the impact of civic engagement, understanding politics, or the role Inauguration Day plays in the U.S. political landscape, we have you covered.

Teaching civic engagement
Teaching your students the importance of civic engagement means guiding them to build the future they want to see. For civic engagement, check out this collection of virtual resources provided by some prominent D.C.-based institutions.

For a lesson plan specific to civic engagement, PBS provides a solid framework for approaching community organizing and the role of citizens.

Resilient Educator also serves up lesson plans and professional development resources for teachers.

Teaching politics
You can teach politics without discussing political parties. Check out this link from We Are Teachers for covering fact checking and media biases.

Videos can help explain some of the most complex subjects. Watch this Ted-Ed video that explains political concepts like the Electoral College.

Teaching inauguration
Inauguration Day is always an important day in U.S. history. Read this article from Teaching Tolerance, which focuses on teaching inauguration history.

For lesson plans related to inauguration (like analyzing speeches or deciphering inaugural poetry), check out the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) collection of resources.

Exploring Washington, D.C.
Although we can’t physically be in Washington, D.C. for the presidential inauguration this year, that doesn’t mean we can’t experience what the nation’s capital has to offer. Check out our partners in D.C. for lesson plans, virtual reality apps, and other educational programs.

We can’t wait to get back on the road, but in the meantime, browse our tours to Washington, D.C. and start planning an adventure for your students today.

Lauren Vinciguerra

Lauren is a Web Content Editor at EF. She dreams of going to Japan one day and eating her weight in sushi.

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