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60-90 minutes
  • Current Events
  • Journalism
  • Supreme Court
  • 9-12
  • College/University

  1. Review the First Amendment Basics with your students.
  2. Distribute the worksheet and go over the assignment.
  3. Explain that students will be researching a current First Amendment news story. The story may cover an ongoing controversy or a case before the courts. (Alternatively, you may preselect one or several stories for the class to read and analyze.)
  4. Then they will use the medium of their choice — an op-ed essay, a video blog, a multimedia poster, etc. — to express their opinion on whether the action presented in the story should be protected or not.
  5. They will share their final products with the class and discuss their processes and conclusions.

  • In My Opinion worksheet (download), one per student
  • First Amendment Basics handout (download), one per student

Discussion will require extended time if you wish all students to share their response pieces. For classes with limited time, you may choose a few volunteers or representative examples, or break into small groups to share/discuss.

  • Why did you think this story was interesting?
  • Do you think the action presented in this story is protected by the First Amendment? Why or why not?
  • Was it difficult to make up your mind about this action/issue? Why or why not?
  • How did the idea of balancing rights come into play as you weighed this issue?
  • If this issue is before a court, how do you think the court will rule? Will the ruling be the same as or different from your conclusion? Why?

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