Media Literacy: Making Sense of the 24/7 News Cycle

A free press is essential to the success of a democracy. As the media has evolved over time to include radio, television, internet and now smart phones and social media apps, the ability in “being capable to read them” needs examining. This lesson guides students through analysis of social media posts, the definition of terms relevant to the media, and provides tools for identifying quality sources for examination of current political issues. This lesson accompanies the Talking Turkey: Taking the ‘Dis’ Out of Civil Discourse program as well as YLI and American Evolution’s First Freedom Wall.

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

Teaching With Current Events

Read breaking news related to the Bill of Rights, gathered by Institute staff every school day, from reputable news sources across the country. Our news stories are chosen with young people in mind and on the basis of ease of use in the classroom, clarity of the constitutional issue, and neutral presentation.

  • Resource Type: Media, Modules (Teaching Unit), Primary Sources
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Detaining U.S. Citizens as Enemy Combatants

This unit gives an overview of some of the issues relating to enemy combatants. It reviews some of the powers of Presidents during wartime, the rights of citizens here in the United States, and the ways the U.S. Supreme Court has tried to balance individual freedoms with national defense. And it presents a discussion model called “structured academic controversy” for exploring the facts, arguments, and options surrounding these issues.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Executive Branch/Presidency
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Illinois Youth Summit Curriculum – 2007

A More Perfect Union is designed to help students explore, discuss, and take a position on the Illinois Youth Summit issues. The curriculum features models for deliberating issues. It introduces public policy–how government responds to problems and gets things done—and offers ways for you to assess a policy’s effect and effectiveness.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Citizenship
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Identifying Community Issues

In this activity, students will investigate a contemporary civil rights issue to better understand the continuing legacy of the civil rights movement and the current impact of civil rights issues the movement did not address.

  • Resource Type: Audio, Closed Captions, Interactives, Lesson Plans, Media, Modules (Teaching Unit), Primary Sources, Special Needs/Language Focus, Timelines, Video
  • Subject: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Defining Marriage

This unit gives an overview of the legal history of marriage in the United States. It presents some of the privileges, benefits, and obligations that go along with getting married. It explains the current controversy about same-sex marriage. And it provides a model for discussion, called “structured academic controversy,” for exploring the facts, arguments, and options surrounding these issues.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Disproportionate Minority Contact

Disproportionate minority contact (DMC) raises difficult issues for the American criminal justice system. It threatens victim cooperation with police and prosecutors, the participation of minority jurors, and the validity of judicial decisions among members of minority and majority communities alike. Most fundamentally, it challenges the basic American assumption that everyone receives “equal justice under law.” This unit highlights two different aspects of disproportionate minority contact.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Illinois Youth Summit Curriculum – 2010

Educating for Democracy is designed to help students explore, discuss, and take a position on the Illinois Youth Summit issues. The curriculum features models for deliberating issues. It introduces public policy–-how government responds to problems and gets things done—and offers ways for you to assess a policy’s effect and effectiveness.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Citizenship
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

The Constitution: That Delicate Balance

Constitutional issues come to life in this Emmy Award-winning series. Key political, legal, and media professionals engage in spontaneous and heated debates on controversial issues such as campaign spending, the right to die, school prayer, and immigration reform. This series will deepen understanding of the life and power of this enduring document and its impact on history and current affairs, while bringing biases and misconceptions to light.

  • Resource Type: Media, Video
  • Subject: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

The Campus Speaker: A Case Study in Free Speech

Use this classroom-ready lesson to examine free-expression issues surrounding a controversial speaker invited to appear at UC Berkeley. We provide questions to help guide your students on if and when offensive speech should be banned, and what are the competing groups and interests.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades: 10, 11, 12