Free Speech: The Language of America®

Freedom of Speech Lesson Plans

Freedom of Speech Lesson Plans for the Classroom

EinsteinfreespeechlessonplanFree Speech Week is the perfect time to introduce your students to the history, significance and current events surrounding freedom of speech in our country, and around the world. To take some of the work out of planning, we have compiled a list of some creative, free lesson plans from around the web that focus on the areas of freedoms of speech and of the press and of freedom of expression, in general. If you have a lesson plan you would like us to include on this list, please let us know. We would love to hear from you!

elementary and middle school

EDSITEment – Lesson plan appropriate for grades 3-5  titled “What’s Fair in a Free Country?” Visit http://edsitement.neh.gov/lesson-plan/first-amendment-whats-fair-free-country#sect-thelesson

Also on EDSITEment, for grades 6-8, “Norman Rockwell, Freedom of Speech – Know It When You See It,” a Picturing America resource authored by Kaye Passmore, Ed.D and Amy Trenkle, NBCT. Visit http://edsitement.neh.gov/lesson-plan/norman-rockwell-freedom-speech-know-it-when-you-see-it#sect-thelesson

National Constitution Center  – Provided by the Bill of Rights Institute, for grades 6-12, Respecting Freedom of Speech

National First Ladies Library – For middle school classrooms, “Should Students Have Free Speech?” adapted by Averil McClelland, Kent State University. Visit http://www.firstladies.org/curriculum/curriculum.aspx?Curriculum=1816

Newspaper Association of America Foundation  – From First Things First: Using the Newspaper to Teach the Five Freedoms of the First Amendment, includes freedom of speech and of the press activities for elementary, middle and high school students.

high school

American Bar Association – From the ABA, “Teaching About Freedom of Speech on the Internet” includes classroom activities and small group work.  Visit http://www.americanbar.org/groups/public_education/resources/resources_for_judges_lawyers/high-school/hs_internet.html

Bill of Rights Institute – For lesson plans based on current events and landmark cases, visit http://www.billofrightsinstitute.org/educate/educator-resources/lessons-plans/

California Courts Freedom of Expression: The First Amendment, for grades 9-12 and Is your Speech Free?: The First Amendment for grade 12.

Education World – On Education World, “Lesson Plan Booster: Student Clothing and the First Amendment” by Jason Tomaszewski. Visit http://www.educationworld.com/a_lesson/lesson_plan_boosters/student_clothing_and_the_first_amendment.shtml

First Amendment Center  – Do Students Have the Right to Read?  explores issues surrounding freedom of the speech and of the press, and of banned books in school libraries.  Also, Where do Student Press Rights Start…and Stop?

JEA’s Scholastic Press Rights CommissionThe Journalism Education Association (JEA)’s SPRC has developed several lesson plans for Constitution Day that focus on freedoms of speech and of the press.  Visit http://jeasprc.org/constitution-day-lessons-and-activities-2014/

Judicial Learning Center  – Three landmark cases are presented: Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, 1969; Bethel School District v. Fraser, 1968; and Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, 1988. Visit http://judiciallearningcenter.org/your-1st-amendment-rights/

Ms. Hogue’s Online English Resources  – In Ms. Hogue’s lesson “The Press & The World” students are teamed up as a “young journalist” and “novice photographer” and are “assigned” a country they must go to for a story by their “editor” (the teacher) but first have to research the current state of press freedoms, protections (or not) for journalists, etc. they might find there.  Visit http://mshogue.com/Journalism/press_world.htm for more.

National Education AssociationHigh School Lesson Plan, Freedom of Speech in Schools, First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Tinker v. Des Moines and Morse v. Frederick

Newseum Institute Free Speech and Music: A Teacher’s Guide to Freedom Sings

The New York Times – In The Learning Network of The New York Times: “Freedom of Expression Online: Outlining the First Amendment for Teenagers” by Sarah Kavanagh and Holly Epstein Ojalvo. Visit http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/13/freedom-of-expression-online-outlining-the-first-amendment-for-teenagers/?_r=0

PBS – In PBS’s Newshour Extra,  “The Dilemma of Protecting Free Speech – Lesson Plan” by Greg Timmons. Visit http://www.pbs.org/newshour/extra/lessons_plans/the-dilemma-of-protecting-free-speech/

Also from PBS, The Price of a Free Press: Is Journalism Worth Dying For?

ReadWriteThink – Freedom of Speech and Automatic Language: Examining the Pledge of Allegiance, author Dawn Hogue, Wisconsin, published by the National Council of Teachers of English.

SchoolJournalism.org  – Exploring the First Amendment by Patricia L. Robinson, Belle Chasse Academy

Student Press Law Center – These SPLC materials include handouts, lesson plans and PowerPoint presentations on press freedoms. Visit http://www.splc.org/page/presentations-and-handouts

United States Capitol Historical Society  – From the U.S. Capitol Historical Society, a lesson plan designed for Constitution Day, with a focus on freedom of speech titled “Freedom of Speech…Always Protected?” Visit http://www.uschs.org/classroom/lesson-plans/constitution-day/lesson-5-grades-8-12-freedom-of-speech-always-protected/