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

Redistricting & Gerrymandering Lesson Plan

In this lesson, students will learn how state legislatures and governors can manipulate the redistricting process to gain an advantage for their party in the U.S. House of Representatives and state legislatures. Students will learn what constitutes gerrymandering and the typical types of gerrymandering used. Students will role play state legislators and collaborate to draw both gerrymandered and not gerrymandered districts. Students will consider the foundational redistricting case Baker v. Carr (1962) and classify arguments made in the case. In addition, students will evaluate the proper role of the Supreme Court in state redistricting cases. 

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

Mini-Moot Courts Resource Bundle and Video

A moot court is a role-play of an appeals court or Supreme Court hearing. The court is asked to rule on a lower court’s decision. No witnesses are called, nor are the basic facts in a case disputed. Arguments are prepared and presented on a legal question (e.g., the constitutionality of a law or government action or the interpretation of a federal statute). Moot courts are an effective strategy for focusing student attention on underlying legal principles and concepts of justice.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Professional Development
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Rucho v. Common Cause (2019)

This case explores the following issues: Do Common Cause and the League of Women Voters of North Carolina (the plaintiffs) have constitutional standing to make these partisan gerrymandering challenges? Are the plaintiffs’ partisan gerrymandering claims able to be heard by the Court? If plaintiffs have standing and their claims are justiciable, is North Carolina’s 2016 congressional map an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander?

  • Resource Type: Research (Digests of Primary Sources)
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission v. American Humanist Association (2019)

Does a local government’s display and maintenance of a 40-foot tall Latin cross on public property, established in memory of fallen World War I soldiers, violate the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause? This case summary shows how the Supreme Court answered this question in 2019.

  • Resource Type: Research (Digests of Primary Sources)
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades:

Classifying Arguments Activity: Flowers v. Mississippi

Classifying Arguments is a SCOTUS case study strategy in which students are given arguments from each side of a case and tasked with identifying whether each argument supports the petitioner or the respondent. In this classroom-ready activity, students will examine arguments from Flowers v. Mississippi, which asks: Did the Mississippi Supreme Court err in how it applied Batson v. Kentucky in this case? An answer key is also available for download.   

  • Resource Type: Research (Digests of Primary Sources)
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades:

Classifying Arguments Activity: Timbs v. Indiana

Classifying Arguments is a SCOTUS case study strategy in which students are given arguments from each side of a case and tasked with identifying whether each argument supports the petitioner or the respondent. In this classroom-ready activity, students will examine arguments from Timbs v. Indiana, a case about selective incorporation, the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause, and civil asset forfeiture. An answer key is also available for download.  

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

Timbs v. Indiana (2019)

Is the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause incorporated against the states under the 14th Amendment? This case summary shows how the Supreme Court answered this question in 2019.

  • Resource Type: Research (Digests of Primary Sources)
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12