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Constitution Day 2012 lessons

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Constitution Day Lesson Plans for Sept. 17, 2012

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. It is a commission of the Journalism Education Association.

Our Constitution Day lesson plans provided here are designed 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. We’ve also included the applicable Common Core standards for most of the lessons.

The first unit includes a discussion concerning why the First Amendment applies to students today. The lesson plan includes a slideshow introducing the First Amendment. The brief introduction is followed by case law examples of its application and relevance to today’s students. Click here for PDF form of the slideshow.

The second unit emphasizes the importance of the Constitution and Bill of Rights by asking students to create a poster persuading others to ratify either of these documents. Several links to copyright-free images are included.

The third unit addresses the lyrics of past protest songs in relation to the freedoms of speech and petition. A follow-up activity involving current music is also included in the plans.

The fourth unit asks students to research a legal issue relating to scholastic journalism by First Amendment expert Mike Hiestand, formerly of the Student Press Law Center. Several additional resources are included in this activity.

The fifth unit reiterates the need for publications to update editorial policies and their forum status. The lesson includes sample policies as well as an article, Double-Edged Sword by Mark Goodman, Knight Chair in Scholastic Journalism at Kent State University. An additional activity involving possible future roles for scholastic media is included.

We are confident these lessons will interest students while making them aware of how the Constitution and Bill of Rights are still a significant part of society (and their lives) as well, and welcome your feedback and suggestions.

The final lessons, which will appear early in September in video form, explore several real world ethical journalism scenarios. This interactive lesson includes explanations from eight SPRC committee members.

Lori Keekley for JEA’s Scholastic Press Rights Commission and the Constitution Day Committee

Constitution Day Committee:
John Bowen, Scholastic Press Rights Commission Chair and Professor at Kent State University (OH)
Megan Fromm, Ph.D.
Lori Keekley, teacher, St. Louis Park High School (MN)
Jeff Kocur, teacher, Hopkins High School (MN)
Kelly Furnas, Kansas State University
Mark Goodman, Knight Chair in Scholastic Journalism, Kent State University (OH) contributed resources
•Link to 2011 Constitution Day materials

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