Free Speech: The Language of America®
SAVE THE DATE! Free Speek Week October 17-23, 2016
Follow Us on Twitter
Find Us on Facebook
Free Speech Week on Pinterest

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

1 for All –  For lesson plans based on material from Newseum and the First Amendment Center that include “Blogging the Bill of Rights” and “Exercising MY First Amendment Freedoms” visit http://1forall.us/teach-the-first-amendment/

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 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

high school

ACLU of Connecticut – The ACLU of Connecticut has developed high school curriculum to teach students about the Constitution.  Their first unit is on Freedom of Speech, and they offer both a teachers guide and student guide. To download either, visit http://www.acluct.org/high-school-curriculum/

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

ASNE’s Youth Journalism Initiative  – On the American Society of News Editors (ASNE) Youth Journalism Initiative site, “Does Freedom of the Press Have the Same Meaning Today as It Did When It was First Instituted?” by Francis L. Montgomery. Visit http://www.schooljournalism.org/does-freedom-of-the-press-have-the-same-meaning-today-as-it-did-when-it-was-first-instituted/

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

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

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.

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/ 

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/