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, Voting, Elections, Politics
  • Grades: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Should Social Media Go to School?

Social media—web-based and mobile technologies that people use to have interactive communication with others—are a part of everyday life in the twenty-first century. The policy at issue in this lesson recognizes the importance of technology in students’ lives by allowing all public high schools to use web-based social media as teaching and communication tools.

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

The Suffrage and the Civil Rights Reform Movements

This short comparative analysis activity involves comparing and contrasting two images of marches for freedom: a 1917 a Bastille Day march for women’s suffrage, and the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Students will consider the similarities and differences between these two images and hypothesize what major differences these photos might imply about the two social reform movements.

  • Resource Type: Photography, Primary Sources
  • Subject: Voting, Elections, Politics
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Environmentalism Then and Now

This PowerPoint presentation uses modern environmental images juxtaposed with historic images and facts, and then asks students: Is Going Green new? While it is clear that environmentalism and the environmental movement, even environmental law, are historic, it is worth discussing how today’s movement is different from the past. Today there are stricter laws, policy initiatives, social networks, and new technologies.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Creating Effective Citizens/Social Studies in Action Library

Watch lesson plans in the video, “Creating Effective Citizens,” from the Social Studies in Action Library, that teach students how to become active and effective citizens. Students participate in role-play and simulations that model civic action, discuss controversial laws about gender discrimination and individual rights, explore what it means to be a global citizen within a democracy, and engage students in local and national issues.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Media, Modules (Teaching Unit), Research (Digests of Primary Sources), Video
  • Subject: Citizenship
  • Grades: K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Dealing With Controversial Issues/Social Studies in Action Library

This program examines how social studies teachers in any grade level can encourage open and informed discussions with their students while dealing with controversial issues. Topics range from stereotypes and gender–based discrimination to the conflict in the Middle East. Through clearly identifying issues, listening to multiple perspectives, and formulating personal positions, teachers explore strategies that can be used to teach challenging issues such as these in their own classrooms.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Media, Modules (Teaching Unit), Research (Digests of Primary Sources), Video
  • Subject: Citizenship
  • Grades: K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Different Perspectives on the Civil Rights Movement

Anthony Badger uses the career of President Jimmy Carter to frame the questions of change in the American South and the relative impact that economic modernization, nonviolent protest, and armed self-defense had on the end of segregation and the steps taken toward political and social equality.

  • Resource Type: Essays, Primary Sources
  • Subject: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Cyberbullying: Should our democracy allow schools to punish students for off-campus cyberbullying?

The U.S. Supreme Court has held that students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.” What about bullying that happens outside of school? New technologies such as the Internet, cell phones, and social media have made bullying possible anytime and anywhere. This lesson provides students with background information and arguments for and against. Students are encouraged to deliberate the issue and come to their own conclusions.

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