Free Speech Essentials

Do your students know what they’re free to say online? At school? On a public street corner? From censorship to cyberbullying, the First Amendment and the freedoms it protects are as hotly contested as ever. This EDCollection explores 16 free speech debates ranging from the founding of our nation to recent headlines to illustrate what free speech actually means, where it comes from, and how far it can go. Whether you’re a social studies teacher looking for a complete unit or an English teacher looking to spend a single class period on free expression, there’s something for everyone. Free registration required.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit), Primary Sources
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Government Speech Under the First Amendment

This lesson teaches students, through a simulation related to government-sponsored Confederate monuments, about the government-speech doctrine under the First Amendment. In particular, this lesson aims to (1) introduce students to the issue of government speech; (2) teach the doctrine; (3) apply the doctrine in a contemporary context; and (4) critically analyze the doctrine.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9

The Amendments That Got Away

Students explore the constitutional amendment process, learn about three amendments that were not ratified, and simulate a state-level ratification process. The lesson fits into a variety of courses, including government, law, civics and history.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Schenck v. U.S. (1919)

Did Schenck’s conviction under the Espionage Act for criticizing the draft violate his First Amendment free speech rights? Schneck was convicted for distributing anti-draft leaflets because the leaflets allegedly caused insubordination.

  • Resource Type: Research (Digests of Primary Sources)
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Media Literacy Booster Pack

Staying fresh and fluent in today’s media landscape isn’t easy. This collection of resources offers tools to tackle eight pressing challenges, from recognizing bias and propaganda to leveraging your role as a media contributor.

Free registration is required to access this resource.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Media, Photography, Primary Sources, Timelines, Video
  • Subject: Media Literacy
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Evaluating Election Ads

In this activity, students examine some of the techniques political campaigns use in ads to persuade voters, including assertions of fact and appeal to emotion. Students evaluate these techniques over time by comparing and contrasting historic and contemporary political ads.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Media
  • Subject: Media Literacy
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12