Pages Navigation Menu

Scope & Sequence: Morse Teaching Units

Share

Introduction

Before you begin working through this document, I’d first like to thank you for trying this unit in your classroom.  This unit’s main emphasis is on customization because every media program is different.  You may find that all the activities in these units are applicable to your media program, or you may find them none of them are applicable.  Above all, make sure each aspect of your lesson is relevant to your staff.

Just as importantly, this unit can only improve if I receive feedback from teachers who try it in their classrooms.  Please email me at peter.barringer@evsc.k12.in.us with any feedback, including (but not limited to):

  • Timing of the activities
  • Relevance of the activities
  • Suggestions for improvement regarding the topics
  • Better videos, handouts, or other materials

Which unit should I choose?

Four different unit models are available.  They’re based on 90-minute block scheduling class periods, so modification will be necessary for teachers on a traditional bell schedule.  As you attempt to determine which unit to choose, keep the following factors in mind:

  • How much time do you have?
    • If you’re teaching a media class, you will have less time than if you’re teaching intro to journalism classes
  • How much time does this court case deserve?
    • If you’re in one of the circuits that has narrowly interpreted Morse, you may wish to devote less time to it
    • If your circuit has interpreted Morse broadly or hasn’t interpreted it at all, more time may be needed
    • If your program has encountered issues regarding student free expression, especially if it related to illegal drug use or illegal activities, consider selecting a longer unit
  • Does your media manual contain a statement regarding Morse and/or student free speech?
    • If not, consider modifying the one-day unit or simply teaching one of the longer units
    • If so, consider skipping this activity or choosing the one-day unit
  • Is illegal drug use a common topic for your program?
  • Are “illegal activities” a common topic for your program?
    • In some circuits, Morse has been broadly interpreted to justify the censorship of expression advocating topics besides illegal drug use

Breakdown of topics:

One-Day Unit

  • Bellringer: Tinker, Hazelwood, and Fraser review
  • CNN YouTube video explaining Morse
  • SPLC article about the Morse decision and its implications
  • Case Handout describing lower courts’ narrow, broad, and incidental interpretations of Morse in each circuit
  • Group project: analyze broadly interpreted lower court cases
  • Closing: Discuss Morse’s applications to scholastic media

Two-Day Unit

  • Bellringer: Tinker, Hazelwood, and Fraser review
  • Teacher’s YouTube video explaining Morse and its decision
  • SPLC article about the Morse decision and its implications
  • Case Handout describing lower courts’ narrow, broad, and incidental interpretations of Morse in each circuit
  • Closing/Homework: Start group project (analyzing broadly interpreted lower court cases)

 

  • Bellringer: Examine lower court cases with narrow interpretations
  • Student presentations (broadly interpreted lower court cases)
  • Discuss Morse’s applications to scholastic media
  • Create a media manual statement regarding Morse

Three-Day Unit

  • Bellringer: KWL chart about Supreme Court cases and anticipation guide (survey regarding Morse)
  • Tinker, Hazelwood, and Fraser review
  • Teacher’s YouTube video explaining Morse and its decision
  • SPLC article about the Morse decision and its implications
  • Case Handout describing lower courts’ narrow, broad, and incidental interpretations of Morse in each circuit
  • Closing/Homework: Start group project (analyzing broadly interpreted lower court cases)

 

  • Bellringer: Examine lower court cases with narrow interpretations
  • Student presentations (broadly interpreted lower court cases)
  • Discuss Morse’s applications to scholastic media
  • Create a media manual statement regarding Morse
  • Bellringer: Students and adviser pick one of three culminating activities (role-play a scenario, draft a persuasive letter, or teach Morse and its applications to a group)
  • Complete the culminating activity (detailed directions can be found on the three-day unit or five-day unit)

Five-Day Unit

  • Bellringer: KWL chart about Supreme Court cases and anticipation guide (survey regarding Morse)
  • Tinker, Hazelwood, and Fraser review
  • Teacher’s YouTube video explaining Morse and its decision
  • SPLC article about the Morse decision and its implications
  • Handout describing lower courts’ narrow, broad, and incidental interpretations of Morse in each circuit
  • Closing/Homework: Start group project (analyzing broadly interpreted lower court cases)
  • Bellringer: Examine lower court cases with narrow interpretations
  • Student presentations (broadly interpreted lower court cases)
  • Discuss Morse’s applications to scholastic media
  • Create a media manual statement regarding Morse
  • Bellringer: Role-playing introduction and instructions
  • Read case details and split into groups
  • Groups prepare for the scenario (prepare arguments, review cases, etc.)
  • Role playing scenario
  • Judges deliberate and decide a winner, using Tinker, Hazelwood, Fraser, or Morse as precedent
  • Closing: Discussion (protecting against issues and the role of the media manual statement)

 

  • Bellringer: Decide whom to write to and what to write about
  • Split into groups
  • Groups work on individual sections of the letter
  • Editors lead a group discussion: how to streamline and improve the letter
  • Closing/Homework: Finalize the letter.  Editor-in-chief takes it home to unify the writing style.

 

  • Bellringer: Discuss whom to inform about Morse (or student First Amendment rights in general) and the best way to teach them about it
  • Split into groups.
  • Create the teaching model in small groups using approved resources
  • Initial check of the teaching model’s quality

 

Justification:

Without lively and open discourse, society weakens.  Students’ First Amendment rights were explicitly established through the Tinker v. Des Moines Supreme Court case in 1969, and those rights have only diminished since.  Current literature offers an abundance of analysis on pre-Morse v. Frederick (2007) court cases related to student First Amendment rights.  The amount of literature relating to the courts’ applications of Morse is even more abundant, but cogent analysis and quality teaching resources related to these cases are difficult to find.

The goal of this project—a set of unit plans and resources—is to help scholastic journalists and media advisers develop a working understanding of the courts’ interpretations of Morse.  Not every adviser has the time to read through scholarly literature to create original lesson plans regarding this case, and little has been published so far.  Some lesson plans and materials are available on sites such as jea.org; however, the plans that are readily available simply provide a basic understanding of the case and its possible effects, rather than an understanding of how it has actually been applied.  This project could help advisers and students develop a current understanding of Morse—how it has been applied, and how those applications could affect student media.

Objectives

  • Students will demonstrate knowledge of the facts of the Morse decision and how it fits with previous Supreme Court decisions. (1, 2, 3, and 5)
  • Students will analyze recent lower court cases, and use outside sources to determine why the judges interpreted Morse broadly. (1, 2, 3, and 5)
  • Students will utilize discussion outcomes regarding potential limitations the Morse decision could place on student journalists in order to create an effective statement for the program’s manual. (2, 3, and 5)
  • Students will complete culminating activities reinforcing Morse’s applications to their media program. (3 & 5)

Key Common Core Standards

The first three standards are addressed in all four unit plans.  The fourth standard is only addressed in the 2, 3, and 5-day units.  The final three standards are all addressed in the 5-day unit; one of the three (staff’s choice) is addressed in the 3-day unit.

Standard Number Description
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.11-12.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.11-12.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11-12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.11-12.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.11-12.5 Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.11-12.1.A, B, C, D, and E CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.11-12.1.A

Introduce precise, knowledgeable claim(s), establish the significance of the claim(s), distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and create an organization that logically sequences claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.11-12.1.B

Develop claim(s) and counterclaims fairly and thoroughly, supplying the most relevant evidence for each while pointing out the strengths and limitations of both in a manner that anticipates the audience’s knowledge level, concerns, values, and possible biases.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.11-12.1.C

Use words, phrases, and clauses as well as varied syntax to link the major sections of the text, create cohesion, and clarify the relationships between claim(s) and reasons, between reasons and evidence, and between claim(s) and counterclaims.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.11-12.1.D

Establish and maintain a formal style and objective tone while attending to the norms and conventions of the discipline in which they are writing.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.11-12.1.E

Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the argument presented.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.11-12.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.11-12.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

 

Please note, there are sample rubrics available in the Ancillary Materials folder of each unit.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *