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Women, Their Rights and Nothing Less: The First Amendment and the Women’s Suffrage Movement

Explore how the suffragists embraced the First Amendment as a tool to help achieve passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920.

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The Freedom to Make a Change

SUMMARY: Students trace how groups throughout U.S. history have used their First Amendment freedoms to effect change, then evaluate the outcomes of the groups’ actions.

GRADE LEVEL: Middle and high school

TIME: More than 90 minutes

MATERIALS: The Freedom to Make a Change worksheet (download), First Amendment Basics handout (optional, download), Internet access to view NewseumED’s Pinterest board


  1. Make copies of the worksheet, one per student.
  2. Review the sample worksheet at the end of this packet.

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Overview PDF DOC
Worksheets PDF DOC
Extensions PDF DOC
Full Packet PDF DOC

To request a large print or Braille version, call 202.292.6650.


(Note: For more support, see expanded procedure in downloadable lesson plan.)

  1. Review the First Amendment, discuss each freedom and explain how groups have been able to use these freedoms to try to change our nation’s laws.
  2. Divide the class into six groups, assign each a case study from “The Freedom to Make a Change Posters” on NewseumED’s Pinterest board, and have them complete Part I of The Freedom to Make a Change worksheet.
  3. Have each group summarize Part I and discuss what each group learned.
  4. Ask the class if each of their case studies were successful.
  5. Then have each group complete Part II and revise the action plan of the group they studied.
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Students present their plans to the class and discuss the changes they would have made to improve the results of the group they studied. Prompts include:

  • Does your revised plan use the same First Amendment freedoms as in the original case study? Are they used in the same ways?
  • Which of your changes do you think would have the greatest impact, and why?
  • What obstacles do you think your revised plan would face if you could travel back in time and attempt to enact it? Would you be able to overcome these obstacles? If so, how? If not, why not?
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