Whether you are teaching history, current events, politics, rhetoric, or even public speaking, these are a great resource! Very timely given that we are in the middle of the presidential debate season for 2012, C-SPAN has made available through their video library both the Presidential and Vice Presidential debates, as broadcast on C-SPAN and without commentary or spin, from 1988 through 2008.
Each video comes with a short synopsis of the key points raised during that debate as well as a full transcript that you can read or print out for students to follow or use in research. Also, within each debate C-SPAN has allowed you to jump to specific clips or answers. Each of these can be anywhere from the 2-minute opening and closing remarks, down to some 18-second individual answers. This makes for easy navigation to what might otherwise be an unwieldy hour and a half of coverage.
You can use these in your classroom to compare and contrast the current debates to those from the recent past. Some may be useful as a primary source for teaching modern election history. Perhaps you can use examples (good or bad) from the debates for your public speaking or rhetoric lessons. If you need a cross-curricular lesson, print the transcripts and have the students read along and test comprehension and understanding as they read through the various talking points and positions of the candidates. There are many possibilities for how to use these.
Explore the other offerings in the C-SPAN video library as well. Coverage of past Congressional hearings, Senate debates and many other events are all available in the same format.