Teaching

Constitution Day lessons and activities, 2014

Constitution Day lessons and activities, 2014
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by Lori Keekley
The Scholastic Press Rights Commission works to provide information and resources on legal and ethical issues to journalism students, teachers and administrators. SPRC members also work to promote the First Amendment rights of students across the nation, and is a commission of the Journalism Education Association.

We designed our Constitution Day lesson plans to help students celebrate the Constitution and Bill of Rights, as
 mandated by Congress. Legislation requires schools to offer lessons on the Constitution and how it affects all Americans. Our lesson plans emphasize the First Amendment and particularly the freedoms of speech and the press.

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Application of libel law: Ventura lesson

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Application of Libel Law
by Lori Keekley

Description
Students will examine the tenets and defenses of libel while analyzing a recent court case.  The lesson spans two days, but could be combined to fit into one day if needed. Students also will examine how the First Amendment plays a role libel law.

Objectives
• Students will learn the basic tenets of libel law
• Students will learn the defenses to a libel claim.
• Students will apply both the tenets of libel and defenses to libel.

Common Core State Standards
• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.4
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language of a court opinion differs from that of a newspaper).
 CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.8
Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.1.a
Introduce precise claim(s), distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and create an organization that establishes clear relationships among claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence.
• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.1.e
Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the argument presented.  

Length
100 minutes (two 50-minute classes)

Materials / resources
Article 1:
Star Tribune article to be used for the first day of class
Article 2: Star Tribune article to be used for the second day of class
Article 3: Washington Post article, which is for background
SPLC libel info

Lesson step-by-step
Day 1

1. Introduction — 5 minutes
Situation: An author claimed he had a barfight with “Scruffy Face” in a recent book. He later identified the other participant. The “Scruffy” said this alleged fight harmed his reputation. Who do you think would win in a libel suit?
2. Review — 10 minute
Using the SPLC libel information, please have students describe the following terms:
–The four parts of libel according to the Student Press Law Center?
(Publication, Identification, Harm, Fault)
–What are the defenses to a libel claim?
(Consent, Truth, Privilege, Opinion versus Fact)

3. Read article 1 — 10 minutes
While reading the article, ask students to underline the areas they think might be applicable for the prosecution. Ask them to box what would be helpful for the defense. Students should be able to explain their reasoning. Also, ask students to revisit what they decided from the introductory assignment, which opened the class.

4. Debate preparation — 10 minutes
Split the class in half. Assign half to be the prosecution and the other half the defense. They should formulate arguments for their side.

Students should also look at how the First Amendment might apply in this scenario.

5. Debate — 20 minutes
Ask students to debate the case. They should cite the parts of libel law, defensed to libel law and information from the case.

Day 2
1. Introduction — 5 minutes
As students enter, please ask them to write down as many parts of libel law and defenses to libel they can. After a few minutes have passed, ask students to get their notes and add what was missed in a different pen color.

2. Debate recap — 10 minutes
Ask students from the prosecution to reiterate their main points. Make sure they include the terminology they reviewed. After five minutes, switch and ask the defense to do the same. Ask the class to vote on which side they think should win.

3. Read article 2 — 10 minutes
While reading the article, ask students to underline the areas they were surprised about. Students should be able to explain their reasoning. Also, ask students to revisit what they noted at the beginning of class.

4. Read article 3 — 10 minutes
Again, ask students to underline any new information.

5. Small group discussion — 5 minutes
Ask students to share what they noted while reading.

6. Large group discussion — 5 minutes
Have each group report at least three comments they discussed. Comments may not be repeated from group to group.

6. Exit slip assessment — 5 minutes
Ask students to write down as many part of libel law and defenses to libel they can. (No notes, just memory on this.)

Differentiation
If students already are proficient in understanding libel law, this lesson could be condensed to one day.

Beginning students might need more time for understanding libel law — especially if it wasn’t already discussed.

 

 

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Evaluating journalistic content: an ethics lesson

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Evaluating journalistic content: creating your own coverage process

by John Bowen
Description
Students will examine the following: What is the most complete way to tell a story? What are the ingredients of the perfect, most comprehensive story? Can the approach work for all story types?

Students will work on the following questions:
• What in students’ minds is the “perfect story?”
• How would students achieve the “perfect story?”
• Can students apply an approach like Vox to their coverage?
• What are the strengths and weaknesses of Vox-like reporting?
• What would a scholastic approach look like?

Objectives
• Students will investigate the question of what makes good content
• Students will discuss how to improve weak content using examples and processes from the lesson
• Students will create their own media approaches to more thorough coverage from lesson discussions

Common Core State Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.7
Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.1
Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.2
Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.6
Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.

Length
150 minutes (three 50-minute classes)

Materials / resources
Vox.com
All you need to know..is that Ezra Klein’s Vox is nothing special
Vox.com has no idea how to cover culture
Vox.com and News Flash Cards: What do you think?
Ezra Klein on Vox’s launch, media condescension and competing with Wikipedia
Vox.com aims to bring context to news with ‘card stacks’
Vox, the forefront of technology and journalism? 

Lesson step-by-step

Day 1
1. Student discovery — 20 minutes
Have students go toVox.com and who we are to examine several Vox stories and read about the Vox concept. They should complete the handout on the following.
• What does Vox say about the purpose of its approach? Why does it work? How does it work?
• Do students think it works? Why? Why not?
• Are the Vox stories complete? Cohesive? Reliable? Verifiable? Accurate? Who or what are the sources, and what does that lead you to ask about the information? How well do they use multiplatform materials?
• If you were to adapt a Vox-like approach, what would you chose to to use, not to use?

2. Readings — 30 minutes

Assign each group to read one of the following articles about Vox and be ready to discuss in class.
• All you need to know..is that Ezra Klein’s Vox is nothing special
• Vox.com has no idea how to cover culture
 Vox.com and News Flash Cards: What do you think?
• Ezra Klein on Vox’s launch, media condescension and competing with Wikipedia
• Vox.com aims to bring context to news with ‘card stacks’
• Vox, the forefront of technology and journalism?

Day 2

1. Link — 5 minutes
Ask students to describe what they learned about the concept of Vox.com during the previous class.

2. Reading review — 15 minutes
Assign students to form six groups. Have each group reread and concentrate on one of the articles.  Ask students to think about points made and evaluate them in terms of creating their own version of Vox using the following questions:
—What do they like about Vox and would include
—What do they dislike and would not include
—What would they change and why?
—Could they make something like Vox work on the scholastic level, and how?

3. Reports — 15 minutes
Each group should report on what it discussed.

4. Practical application — 15 minutes
Once the articles and Vox have been thoroughly discussed, break the students into team of five and have them:
—Decide how they would focus their approach to cover a localized issue or event
—Choose the topic, its sources and questions to build coverage around (core story)
—Begin to research and gather/suggest the “card stacks” to make their coverage complete
—Evaluate their materials as they go, and prepare to explain their choices to each team in
–Students will decide which, if any, of their story approaches would work and implement decisions on each.
• Would their approach provide “perfect story” coverage? Why/why not?
• What could be changed to make stories more effective?
• Do they think audiences would be more completely informed using this approach? Why or why not?
• What changes, if any, would they have to make in their operations to be effective?
• Is this approach valuable enough to make those changes?

• Is this approach valuable enough to make those changes? 

Day 3

1. Group preparation — 10 minutes
Students should review the information from the practical application from the previous class.

2. Presentation — 40 minutes
Each team shares its story concepts, sources and presentation.

Teams will discuss the ethical issues raised in the coverage and well as the news principles and judgment of story and card selection.

 

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Online comments:
Allow anyone to post,
or monitor and approve first
An ethics lesson

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Considering online comments: Allow anyone to comment to protect the forum or keep comments focused?
by John Bowen

Description
Should online comments be allowed without review? Does doing so protect the forum concept?
Students will examine the following questions:
• What are the purposes of having comments for online and social media, for news as well as opinion pieces?
• What, if any, are difference between print and online comments.
• What are the pros and cons of allowing online comments, reviewed or unreviewed?
• What should student media consider before allowing online comments?
• What should guidelines for handling online comments include in scholastic media?

Objectives
• Students will read guidelines for online commenting
• Students will evaluate real-world issues concerning online comments.
• Students will create guidelines concerning online comments and posting.

Common Core State Standard
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.7
Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.1
Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.2
Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.6
Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.11-12.1.C
Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that probe reasoning and evidence; ensure a hearing for a full range of positions on a topic or issue; clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions; and promote divergent and creative perspectives.

Length: one day
50 minutes

Materials / resources
• Allowing comments or keeping people silent: which is more ethical?
http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/2013/11/new-media-new-ethical-considerations-for-the-buisness-side-too/
• Scholastic Press Rights Committee’s guidelines
• Computers

Lesson step-by-step
1. Introduction — 2 minutes
Survey students to find out how many have read an online comment within the past week.

Ask students how many of them have commented.

2. Transition — 3 minutes
Explain to the students that today, they will be examining whether student publications should allow online comments and if they do, what type of comments they should allow.

3. Readings — 10 minutes
Have students read the “Commenting vs silence” section of this article and guidelines from JEA’s Scholastic Press Rights Committee. Click on the online ethics guidelines link, and go to Section 5, handling online comments.

4. Group work — 10 minutes
In groups have students list on paper the pros and cons of allowing online comments. Part of their discussion should look at:
–Allowing any comments
–Allowing reviewed comments
–Allowing unfettered comments

Students, as a whole, or in groups should prepare a process for handling comments, and be able to explain their decision in a press release, to:
–Their audiences/general public
–School administrators
–School board

5. Group reports — 10 minutes
Ask groups to debrief on what they decided.

6. Assessment — 15 minutes
Ask students to prepare guidelines for their ethics and staff manual, and for publication concerning online comments.

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How much information is enough for a story? An ethics lesson

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How much information is enough for a story?
by John Bowen
Description
Students will explore the following questions: What makes a good headline? What makes a good infographic? What makes a good multimedia package? Is the practice of “All you need to know about X” bad for journalism? In working on those questions, students will also work on formulating corrections for weak practices. They will also work toward forming defenses of stronger processes and policies. One way or another, students will decide the kind of policy they would develop to create an effective and credible news practice. This could involve guidelines or policy for the staff manual.

Objectives
• Students will read and be able to critique an article about coverage cliches
• Students will examine the role coverage cliches play in the media
• Students will draft a policy or guidelines about using this type coverage in their media

Common Core State Standards
• CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.7
Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem
 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.1
Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain
• CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.2
Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas
• CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.6
Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others

Length
150 minutes

Materials / resources
• The absolute worst cliche online today
http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/07/22/the-absolute-worst-cliche-online-today/

Lesson step-by-step
Day 1
1. Background — 15 minutes
Have students read the article,The absolute worst cliché online today. Ask students to either highlight or underline important aspects of the article.

2. Pair work — 10 minutes
Students should prepare a 25-word statement of belief about the points the author makes. If they are not familiar with the practices noted, have them use Internet access to see examples.

3. Work with article concepts — 25 minutes
Once students have read the article and completed their statement, have students find three examples online of the process the author talks about, two in news coverage and one in something else. Students should be ready to discuss the newsvalue, cohesiveness and credibility of the information in these pieces.

Day 2:
1. Link to the last class – 5 minutes

2. Small group discussion – 20 minutes
Divide the class into groups of five to discuss the Washington Post article and the examples they found. Write down their discussion using this handout.

Questions they might address include:
• Do headlines like the ones in your articles catch reader attention, provide enough information or set the stage for misinformation? Or, something else?
• How do you react to the examples you found? Did they present complete and cohesive information so readers have enough of the story to take action or feel they are informed?
• Who or what were the sources of the information? Was the information presented objectively, or did that matter? Could you verify the information presented, and through reliable sources?
• Discuss what you found in relation to the author of “All you need”s points. Do you agree, disagree? Does the author support her points?
• Do you feel the examples – and the author’s point – indicates a bad journalistic practice? Why or why not? If a good practice, how would you defend it? Be specific.

3. Policy drafting and poster creation – 25 minutes
Once the groups have discussed these questions, have each group work as a team to prepare a policy or guideline for your staff manual on the practice of “All you need to know” headlines and approaches. Once the team is finished, have them create a poster of visual means of expressing their position to share with the rest of the class.

Day 3
1. Presentation and assessment – 50 minutes
Students should share their poster and team statements. Students should try to reach an agreement for a working position usable for the staff manual.

Differentiation
Use this section to provide teachers changes to the lesson plan to accommodate students at different skill levels or in different learning environments. If this involves different materials or resources, list those in the Materials/Resources section.

 

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Taking your student media online:
Will students follow online news media?
An ethics lesson

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Taking your student media online: Will audiences follow online news media?
by John Bowen
Description
What should you consider before taking your student media online? This lesson will examine areas students should explore prior to transitioning to online.
Students will work through the following questions:
• Why should audiences follow you online?
• What are the benefits of online news?
• What are the downsides of online news?
• What approaches would you take to motivate potential audience to follow you online?
• What would you do to ensure those approaches follow legal and ethical standards?
• How would you create this process into guidelines for your ethics and staff manuals?

Objectives
• Students will read articles concerning taking a publication online.
• Students will work in groups to create a plan to move their media online.
• Students will create a guideline outlining why taking a publication online is important.

Common Core State Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.7
Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.1
Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.2
Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.6
Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.11-12.1.C
Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that probe reasoning and evidence; ensure a hearing for a full range of positions on a topic or issue; clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions; and promote divergent and creative perspectives.

Length
100 minutes (two 50-minute classes)

Materials / resources
Online ethics guidelines for student media
Your students love social media…and so can you
Cyberlaw: Internet and online media
Living social: College newsrooms revisiting ethics policies for the Twitter generation
Ways to have a social media presence for your staff when your high school says ‘no’
5 reasons why an online newspaper is not the end of the world
High school journalists take a crash course in newspaper economics
College newspaper readership

Lesson step-by-step

Day 1
Have students read in four groups. Each group reads two different articles before class to help frame the next class discussion.
• Online ethics guidelines for student media
• Your students love social media…and so can you
• Cyberlaw: Internet and online media
• Ways to have a social media presence for your staff when your high school says ‘no’
• 5 reasons why an online newspaper is not the end of the world
• Living social: College newsrooms revisiting ethics policies for the Twitter generation
• High school journalists take a crash course in newspaper economics
• College newspaper readership

1. Student work time — 50 minutes
Using what they read for today, students will work in groups of 5 to plan the process of moving their student media online. Their work should ensure that the processes used are ethical. Remind students they will presented their group’s decision the following day.

Day 2
1. Presentation preparation — 5 minutes
Give students a few moments to review their notes.

2. Presentations — 25 minutes
Student groups should present their plans to each other, allowing time for clarification and alternatives.

3. Guideline creation — 20 minutes
The entire group will then create one or more approaches to inform others about why taking student media online is important. This should result in a workable Action Plan models and guidelines      for ethical and staff manuals.

Differentiation
Use this section to provide teachers changes to the lesson plan to accommodate students at different skill levels or in different learning environments. If this involves different materials or resources, list those in the Materials/Resources section.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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