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

Equity in Public Education Funding

This lesson will explore the question of equity in funding public education for K-12 students. It will provide a historical context for public education in America: how equality of education has been understood and the ways in which states have been permitted to fund it. In addition, it will introduce the idea of public policy—what it is and how to assess its costs and benefits.

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

Public Demonstrations: Should our democracy have the power to prohibit unauthorized public demonstrations?

This lesson provides students with background information and arguments for and against allowing the government to prohibit unauthorized public demonstrations. Students are encouraged to deliberate the issue and come to their own conclusions based on evidence and reason.

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

George Washington and Ratification

This short video suggests that George Washington’s vision for an American empire was intimately connected to his desire for constitutional ratification. Though he played no public role in the ratification debates, he was in constant contact with the Federalist supporters of the Constitution. As Professor W.B. Allen points out, Washington was aware of all the debates, but his influence was completely invisible to the public.

  • Resource Type: Video
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 11, 12

Take a Stand Resource Bundle and Video

In the “Take a Stand” activity, students engage in critical thinking and conversation around contested public issue statements. Instructors choose a public issue statement and students take a stand along the continuum based on their claim about the issue.  

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

Comprehensive Sex Education

This lesson discusses whether Illinois should pass a law that requires all public schools to provide comprehensive sex education in grades 6-12. In other words, should schools be required to teach students about both abstinence and contraceptives as possible prevention strategies for unintended teen pregnancy and STIs? Students will consider arguments supporting and opposing a comprehensive sex education law by deliberating the question using Structured Academic Controversy (SAC).

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

Illinois Youth Summit Curriculum – 2009

Promoting the General Welfare 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

Illinois Youth Summit Curriculum – 2011

The 2011 Illinois Youth Summit Resource Guide 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

Civil Conversation: Immigration Enforcement Raids

Controversial legal and policy issues, as they are discussed in the public arena, often lead to polarization, not understanding. This Civil Conversation activity offers an alternative. In this structured discussion method, under the guidance of a facilitator, participants are encouraged to engage intellectually with challenging materials, gain insight about their own point of view, and strive for a shared understanding of issues. This lesson plan addresses the debate over the policies of the federal agency – Immigration and Customs Enforcement – that investigates and enforces the nation’s immigration laws.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Citizenship
  • Grades: 10, 11, 12