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Introduction to Constitution Day 2019: lessons and more

Posted by on Aug 18, 2019 in Blog | 0 comments

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Constitution Day is right around the corner: Tuesday, Sept. 17. This celebration of the signing of the United States Constitution is the perfect time to touch on our rights and responsibilities, especially as they relate to freedom of speech. The Scholastic Press Rights Committee has you covered, once again, with a collection of lesson plans and activities. Check out this year’s featured lessons and feel free to use the material in whatever manner is best for your class and your students.

Citizenship in the United States (by Audrey Wagstaff): Have students examine the history of ratifying the Constitution and Bill of Rights, assess their own knowledge by answering Constitution-specific questions from the current citizenship test, and read/discuss recent news stories and opinion pieces about the great citizenship debate.

Evaluating Political Ads (by Megan Fromm): Involve students in understanding and evaluating political advertisements. They will consider ethical dilemmas and create advertisements of their own.

Free speech vs. hate speech: What’s protected? (by Susan McNulty): Social media has provided a platform for anyone with an internet connection to post their views on any topic imaginable. Protesters have the right to hold signs and convey their beliefs in public places. But what about hate speech? Should certain ideas and messages be silenced? 

Understanding and Promoting Student Press Rights (by Matthew Smith): Guide your students through an understanding of their rights as student journalists and where these rights originate. Also, touch on how students can promote and expand these rights.

Resources for Working on Student Free Expression Legislation (by Lori Keekley): Make use of a collection of resources and examples from around the country to promote New Voices legislation in your state.

Suggestions for student media mission, legal, ethical and procedural language (by Lori Keekley): Originally presented to the 2019 Adviser Institute in New Orleans, this material provides important models that can be adapted of essential mission, legal, ethical and procedural language for student media.

Also, be sure to check out resources provided by the Student Press Law Center, including its Year of the Student Journalist ideas. In particular, consider having your students write and submit an op-ed about why student press freedom is important (try using some of our featured lessons from previous Constitution Days to build background and appreciation, such as this one from 2017 on the importance of an independent and active press).

And finally, congratulations to Gillian McMahon from West Linn High School in West Linn, Oregon, for taking first place in the Constitution Day Logo Contest and creating our 2019 Constitution Day design. Excellent work by all students who submitted entries!

For past Constitution Day materials, go here.

If you have any feedback or questions, feel free to reach out to Matthew Smith or Jeff Kocur.

Thank you!

Constitution Day Committee
Lori Keekley, MJE, St. Louis Park High School (MN)
Jeff Kocur, CJE, Hopkins High School (MN)
Matthew Smith, CJE, Fond du Lac High School (WI)
Audrey Wagstaff, MJE, Wilmington College (OH)
Megan Fromm, MJE, Grand Junction High School (CO)
Susan McNulty, CJE, J. W. Mitchell High School (FL)

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Citizenship in the United States: Lesson Plan for Constitution Day 2019

Posted by on Aug 14, 2019 in Blog | 0 comments

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Description
A recent Gallup poll suggests that a record 27% of U.S. American citizens believe immigration is the most important issue we as a country face. The 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution outlines what we call “birthrightcitizenship,” which has sparked much debate as of late. Those not born in the United States or its territories can apply for citizenship, and part of this process involves passing a citizenship test that many birthright citizens could not likely pass.

In this lesson, students will examine the history of ratifying the Constitution, the addition of the Bill of Rights, assess their own Constitutional knowledge by answering Constitution-specific questions  from the current citizenship test, and read/discuss recent news stories and opinion pieces about the great citizenship debate.

Objectives

  • Students will ascertain why some states debated the initial ratification of the Constitution.
  • Students will test their own knowledge of the Constitution by answering questions that appear on the current citizenship test.
  • Students will critique recent news stories and op-eds about the current debate surrounding citizenship and immigration. 

Common Core State Standards

http://www.corestandards.org/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.
http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/RH/11-12/3/Evaluate various explanations for actions or events and determine which explanation best accords with textual evidence, acknowledging where the text leaves matters uncertain.
http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/RH/11-12/9/Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.

Length

90 minutes

Document for handout: CSDAY2019 (PDF)

Materials / resources

Links to stories provided on the second page of the document: 

  1. https://www.dallasnews.com/news/immigration/2019/07/24/no-shower-23-days-us-citizen-held-deportation-shares-like-immigrant 
  2. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2019/07/26/enduring-cruelty-trumps-immigration-agenda/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.802ca5601cdb 
  3. https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/10/birthright-citizenship-other-countries-trump/574453/ 
  4. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/latino/tijuana-expectant-moms-hope-u-s-asylum-n1032806 
  5. https://thefederalist.com/2019/07/01/constitution-grant-citizenship-anyone-born-inside-united-states/ 
  6. https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2019-07-21/with-send-her-back-chant-trump-tears-at-the-meaning-of-citizenship 
  7. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/29/us/politics/democratic-debates-immigration.html 

Lesson step-by-step

Step 1 — 30 minutes

Distribute the handout for the students and explain that they are to follow each portion from 1-7-8-7 — ask them to pause before beginning the last 7. Note: Encourage them to answer the questions on their own first (without the aid of classmates or other resources).

Step 2 — 45 minutes

Ask the students to read one or two of the articles (time permitting) by visiting the links provided. Encourage them to take notes about the content of the article, perspectives presented, references to the Constitution and its amendments, and potential biases they can identify.

Step 3 — 45 minutes

Discuss articles the students read, and then encourage them to read the remaining articles. You may add extra time for further discussion.

Ask students to locate additional articles for discussion. Journalism advisers: encourage your staff to brainstorm/explore the issue of citizenship in future coverage.

Differentiation

Students who may not have studied this material previously may be encouraged to use textbooks or the Internet to answer the questions on the first page of the activity. In addition, you may wish to divide students into small groups to read one article each and then summarize it for the class.

For past Constitution Day materials, go here.

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Constitution Day is right time
to apply for FAPFA recognition

Posted by on Sep 17, 2018 in Blog, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

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by Lori Keekley, MJE
As advisers, we work to support student journalists on a daily basis.

Taking a moment today to apply for the First Amendment Press Freedom Award is a great way to symbolically show this support.

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Ways to celebrate Constitution Day 2018

Posted by on Aug 18, 2018 in Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

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The Scholastic Press Rights Committee is again excited to provide lesson plans and activities to help you celebrate Constitution Day and the First Amendment. Constitution Day recognized Sept. 17 each year, and we have a trove of new and archived lessons and activities to help you raise awareness of the First Amendment’s rights and applications for students.

Take a look at the new lessons:

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2017 Constitution Day lessons

Posted by on Aug 22, 2017 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Featured, Law and Ethics, Legal issues, Lessons, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

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Constitution Day 2017 is approaching, and several members of the Scholastic Press Rights Committee have come together to provide you with materials to help your students understand their rights and responsibilities. These lessons provide particular focus on the First Amendment and the freedom of speech in general, but they would be appropriate and effective in any class that touches on issues related to history, the Constitution, citizenship or journalism.

Since Constitution Day (Sept. 17) is on a Sunday this year, we’d suggest celebrating on the following Monday. For a quick preview of this year’s lessons, feel free to watch this video. Links are also provided, below, to the new materials as well as lessons from previous years that might be particularly useful.

This year’s lessons:

First Amendment School Dialogue, by Jeff Kocur: Guide your students through a class-sized (or whole-school) dialogue about the five freedoms of the First Amendment. Students will identify and evaluate the impact of the First Amendment in their own lives and the lives of others.

The Importance of an Independent and Active Press, by Matthew Smith: Expose students to the many possible benefits of independent media in a democracy through quotes and video excerpts of world leaders espousing the necessity of a free press. Students will evaluate and discuss their own reaction to these arguments.

Introduction to News Literacy, by Kristin Taylor: The freedom of speech and of the press come with responsibilities, too, and this lesson provides materials for recognizing different types of news media and coverage. Students will examine the credibility of news sources as well as examine their own media habits in order to beef up their news diets and avoid “fake” news.

What’s in Your State Press Law?, by John Bowen and Lori Keekley: As New Voices laws spread across the country to protect student journalists, help your students understand what their state does or does not cover when it comes to student press rights. Students will examine their own law and create a dialogue with stakeholders about the benefits of protecting student publications.

Sharing Your State Law with Others, by John Bowen and Lori Keekley: State laws protecting student press rights mean nothing if students, administrators, school boards and others don’t know what they mean or how they impact the community. For this lesson, students will create an action plan for the various groups in their community about the state legislation.

Previous lessons:

Materials from previous years are obviously still available and relevant. The links, below, take you to the full list of lessons from each year, but we’ve also provided a quick suggestion of a lesson from that year that might work particularly well with the new batch we created.

2016 (Check out the lesson on exploring and discussing the gray area between political correctness and free speech.)

2015 (Check out the Constitution of the United States Crossword for a quick hit.)

2014 (Check out the lesson asking students to evaluate what to do when people ask them to remove content already published or posted in a student publication.)

2013 (Check out these materials forcing students to evaluate the ethical considerations involved when stories or information could be highly controversial or harmful.)

Feel free to send any feedback or questions to Matthew Smith (matthewssmith17@gmail.com) or Jeff Kocur (jeffreykocur@gmail.com)

Constitution Day Committee

John Bowen, MJE, Kent State University (OH)

Lori Keekley, MJE, St. Louis Park High School (MN)

Jeff Kocur, CJE, Hopkins High School (MN)

Matthew Smith, CJE, Fond du Lac High School (WI)

Kristin Taylor, CJE, The Archer School for Girls (CA)

 

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