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

Habeas Corpus: The Guantanamo Cases

One of our oldest human rights, habeas corpus safeguards individual freedom by preventing unlawful or arbitrary imprisonment. This documentary examines habeas corpus and the separation of powers in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks as the Supreme Court tried to strike a balance between the president’s duty to protect the nation and the constitutional protection of civil liberties in four major Guantanamo Bay cases: Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, Rasul v. Bush, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld and Boumediene v. Bush.

Closed captions available in English and Spanish.

  • Resource Type: Media, Video
  • Subject: History, Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 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

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

Deliberation Resource Bundle and Video

Deliberations allow teachers to help students cooperatively discuss contested political issues by carefully considering multiple perspectives and searching for consensus. Deliberations help students develop a deeper understanding of issues, engage in critical thinking, make decisions based on evidence and logic, respect others’ points of view, and identify multiple perspectives associated with the Deliberation topic. 

  • Resource Type: Professional Development
  • Subject: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Deliberation Materials: Minimum Wage

Should our state or community raise the minimum wage? This activity includes a deliberation reading and glossary, as well as accompanying handouts to give students additional information on the topic and to guide them through the deliberation process from planning to reflection.  

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

Deliberation Materials: Military Intervention

Should the U.S. military intervene to protect people in other countries from state-sponsored mass killing? This activity includes a deliberation reading and glossary, as well as accompanying handouts to give students additional information on the topic and to guide them through the deliberation process from planning to reflection.  

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

Deliberation Materials: Immigration

Should the U.S. government make it easier for unauthorized immigrants who came to this country as children to pay for college? This activity includes a deliberation reading and glossary, as well as accompanying handouts to give students additional information on the topic and to guide them through the deliberation process from planning to reflection. 

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