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.

Grades 9-12
Foundations of Democracy
Lesson Plans

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.

Grades 11, 12
Foundations of Democracy

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.

Immigration Reform (SIM Lesson Plans)

The purpose of this learning module is to help students learn how a U.S. Senator might address an issue of public significance under consideration in the United States Congress. Learning about personal, state, party, and national interests will help students understand representation more fully. The pre-visit examines how elected representation works. The post-visit lesson supports critical analysis of each student’s strategic choices and votes, preparing them to defend their efforts.

Grades 8, 9-12
Legislative Branch/Congress
Lesson Plans

College Bill of Rights eLesson

For a lot of students, college is the next step after high school. The transition to a college environment comes with new opportunities and responsibilities. Once people turn 18, they come into the full enjoyment of their rights as adults. This means that the First Amendment rights of a college freshman attending a public university are the same as the rights of any other adult.