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

Defining Classroom Citizenship

The founders understood that, in order to preserve their liberty and happiness, and that of future generations, the foundation of successful self-government was citizens who understood and applied certain virtues. They constructed the U.S. Constitution according to their study of the principles and virtues that were most necessary to sustain a free, prosperous, and orderly society. This lesson is ideal for the first day of school.

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

The Role of the Judiciary

In this lesson, students learn about the judicial system, aka the judiciary. First, students read and discuss an article on the role, structure, and principles of the judiciary. Next, they participate in a Civil Conversation on the reading. In this structured discussion method, under the guidance of a facilitator (the teacher), participants are encouraged to engage intellectually with challenging materials.

  • Resource Type: Descriptive Text, Interactives, Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Crisis in Venezuela

The United States historically had strong diplomatic and economic relations with Venezuela. Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves and is the third largest source of imported oil for the U.S. For decades, Venezuela was a democratic state. The positive relationship between the U.S. and Venezuela changed in 1998. Venezuelans elected Hugo Chavez president that year. His political program was known as Chavismo.

  • Resource Type: Descriptive Text, Interactives, Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Voting, Elections, Politics
  • 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

Extending Suffrage to Women

In this activity, students will analyze documents pertaining to the women’s suffrage movement as it intensified following passage of the 15th Amendment, which guaranteed the right to vote for African American males. Documents were chosen to call attention to the struggle’s length, the movement’s techniques, and the variety of arguments for and against giving women the vote.

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

Who Were the Foremothers of the Women’s Suffrage and Equality Movements?

This lesson looks at the women’s suffrage movement that grew out of the failing of the Continental Congress by “remembering the ladies” who are too often overlooked when teaching about the “foremothers” of the movements for suffrage and women’s equality in U.S. history. Grounded in the critical inquiry question “Who’s missing?” and in the interest of bringing more perspectives to whom the suffrage movement included, this resource will help to ensure that students learn about some of the lesser-known activists who, like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and Susan B. Anthony, participated in the formative years of the women’s rights movement.

  • Resource Type: Modules (Teaching Unit), Primary Sources
  • Subject: History
  • Grades: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12