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60-90 minutes
  • Civil Rights
  • Constitution
  • Current Events
  • Women's Rights
  • 7-12

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

  1. As a class, brainstorm local, national and international issues they care about, like access to public transportation, homelessness or the international refugee crisis. Chart their ideas on the board.
  2. Ask the class if they know of any groups in the U.S. addressing those issues. Students should describe what they know about the groups’ efforts and identify how they use the First Amendment to achieve their goals.
  3. Distribute the worksheet and show students the reports in “The Freedom to Make a Change Posters” Pinterest board as models for their class projects. Then, individually or in small groups, students select one of those issues to research in depth to see how the First Amendment can be used to create social change today.
  4. Once research is complete, students create a digital report of their findings. 

  • Researching the First Amendment Today worksheet (download), one per student or small group
  • The First Amendment in Action Today template (download), one per student or small group
  • Internet access


Students present their projects to their classmates and discuss their findings. Prompts include:

  • Which First Amendment freedoms do you see being used most frequently? Why do you think this is?
  • Based on what you’ve seen in these reports, which First Amendment freedom(s) is/are the least important when working to change a community? The nation? The world? Explain.
  • Did you discover any common strategies or tactics being used by many different individuals or groups to address diverse types of problems?
  • What would these individuals’/groups’ efforts look like if they did not have the ability to exercise their First Amendment freedoms?
  • Choose a few specific examples of groups/individuals who have been successful in addressing their issue. What characteristics do these groups/ individuals share? How has the First Amendment played a role in their efforts?
  • Choose a few specific examples of groups/individuals that have struggled to achieve their goals. What would you do differently to improve or expand the impact this group is having on this issue? Explain how the First Amendment would play a part in your plan.

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