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Constitution Day lesson plans, resources for 2011

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Constitution Day Lesson Plans for Sept. 16, 2011

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.

The first unit has two parts. The first is intended as an overview of the First Amendment while the second applies Freedom of Speech as addressed in a Philadelphia Inquirer article by Michael Smerconish. A PDF accompanies this article (or you can download it as a PowerPoint) and there is an extensive list of additional resources.

The second unit includes a quick discussion of interpreting the Constitution and then explores off campus speech using real and hypothetical scenarios. Possible solutions for the scenarios will be available early this week.

The third unit examines a 2011 Washington court case that established schools are not liable for what student newspapers publish as long as the content is not reviewed by school administrators prior to publication. We will have more on this court decision in the coming months.

The fourth unit addresses the importance of the 1969 Tinker v. Des Moines court case to student expression and includes several court cases for students to reference. A PowerPoint on the Tinker decision accompanies this lesson.
We are confident these lessons will interest students while making them aware of how the Constitution is still a significant part of society (and their lives) as well, and welcome your feedback and suggestions.

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

Constitution Day Committee:
Megan Fromm, Ph.D.
Lori Keekley, teacher, St. Louis Park High School (MN)
Jeff Kocur, teacher, Hopkins High School (MN)
Chris Waugaman, teacher, Prince George High School (VA)
John Bowen and Mark Goodman, Kent State University (OH) contributed resources

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