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Constitution Day 2013 teaching materials and lessons

Posted by on Sep 1, 2013 in Blog, Hazelwood, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

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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.

Constitution Day is Sept. 17, and you might want to work these lessons into that timeframe.

The first lesson requires students to use online sources to guide them through several legal points. Students then work through three authentic scenarios regarding their press rights.

The second lesson allows students to explore the conflict of reporting the truth when that truth may have consequences. Students work with several leading questions and apply them to several scenarios.

The third lesson acts as a starting point for those who are in need of creating a staff manual. Students will explore several terms including responsibility and accountability.

The fourth lesson is a package on sourcing includes five lessons on use of sources, attribution and verification, with each segment raising ethical questions about the information gathering and presentation process. Included are:

The use of anonymous sources
Effective use of sources
Comparing sourcing and verifying of information in digItal and print stories
Quick hits: Checking your sources, evaluating and verifying them
Quick hits: Critical thinking not only on effectiveness of the lead but also on the credibility and value of the information.

We also will publish Talking Points for Advisers to discuss prior review and restraint with their administrators. The release of this document will coincide with Quill and Scroll’s new, to-be-released onlineedition of the Principal’s Guide to Scholastic Journalism.

We are confident these lessons will interest students and help student journalists better practice their art. As always, we welcome your feedback and suggestions.

Lori Keekley
For JEA’s Scholastic Press Rights Commission and the Constitution Day Committee
Constitution Day Committee
John Bowen, MJE, Kent State University (OH)
Megan Fromm, Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University (MD)
Kelly Furnas, CJE, Kansas State University (KS)
Mark Goodman, Kent State University (OH)
Lori Keekley, MJS, St. Louis Park High School (MN)
Jeff Kocur, CJE, Hopkins High School (MN)
Chris Waugaman, MJE, Prince George High School (VA)

We also will publish some Talking Points for Advisers to discuss prior review and restraint with their administrators. The release of this document will coincide with Quill and Scroll’s to-be=released edition of the Principal’s Guide to Scholastic Journalism.

You still have access to past Constitution Day materials:

2012 materials, part 1
2012 materials, part 2
2011 materials

 

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Constitution Day 2020

Posted by on Aug 19, 2020 in Blog | 0 comments

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In a unique year featuring not only a world-wide pandemic but also mass protests, a presidential election and plenty of attempts at spreading misinformation, it’s as important as ever for students to understand their rights.

Constitution Day, observed Sept. 17 each year, celebrates the signing of the United States Constitution, and provides a perfect opportunity (either on that day or in the weeks before or after) to touch on our Constitutional rights, especially as they relate to Freedom of Speech.

This year, mindful of the particular challenges of 2020, the Scholastic Press Rights Committee has put together a series of lessons focusing on supporting student voices in the current environment. We have lessons on specific laws affecting student speech as well as materials touching on protests (and how to cover them), voting, election coverage and recognizing bias in the news.

Each provides opportunities for quick learning and discussion as well as options for exploring the topics in more depth over several days, even virtually. Check the more detailed descriptions and links for each, below.

Aside from the new lessons, this is an excellent time to touch base with students and with each other about the state of New Voices laws across the country, making sure you are aware of particular protections you may already have or particular movements in your state working to secure these protections. You may also wish to make sure students are aware of support available through the Student Press Law Center or look through their website for current examples and explanations of legal rights.

Protecting Student Voices (by Matthew Smith): Get your students competing to test their knowledge of specific laws, court cases that shape their speech and publication rights at school and the resources available to them. Additional suggestions are provided for discussion and applying the concepts to your specific school.

Expanding the First Amendment (by Kristin Taylor): Help students gain a better understanding of how state laws may expand student press rights beyond the First Amendment, as limited by Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier. Students will use SPLC.org to research their state’s New Voices status as well as explore the SPLC’s New Voices FAQ, evaluate the legality of their current press freedom and discuss next steps for personal action.

Protest and the First Amendment (by Audrey Wagstaff): Give students a better understanding of the legal protections of their right to protest as well as the importance of journalism in accurately covering them. Students will be able to review examples of protest coverage and best practices and will apply this knowledge to a variety of protest coverage scenarios.

Reporting elections: issues, candidates and making endorsements (by John Bowen): Move students through critical-thinking and decision-making processes for covering election stories that meet the needs of their community. By applying reporting procedures to important coverage, on a deadline, students learn to decide which races and issues to focus on and how.

Voting, Voice and the Constitution (by Mark Dzula): This unit introduces the 15th and the 19th amendments to the United States Constitution, amendments that respectively afforded black men and all women voting rights. The activities provoke analysis of primary documents (including historical newspapers), challenge students to consider voting rights in contemporary contexts, and encourage them to consider relationships between voice, activism, the press and voting.

Know Your News (by Michael Bjorklund): With the election year upon us, it’s getting harder for students to find factual, unbiased news. This lesson focuses on teaching media biases through the scope of identifying and analyzing media coverage.

Plenty of the lessons from past Constitution Day posts also remain relevant. Feel free to search through any of those: 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013.

If you have any feedback or questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to Matthew Smith matthewssmith17@gmail.com) or Mark Dzula (mdzula@webb.org). Thank you!

Constitution Day Committee
Matthew Smith, CJE, Fond du Lac High School (WI)
Mark Dzula, the Webb Schools (CA)
Kristin Taylor, CJE, The Archer School for Girls (CA)
John Bowen, MJE, Kent State University (OH)
Audrey Wagstaff, MJE, Wilmington College (OH)
Michael Bjorklund, Columbia High (FL)

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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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Constitution Day lessons and activities, 2014

Posted by on Sep 4, 2014 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Law and Ethics, Legal issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

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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.

Read More

Does your mother love you: Get three sources;
Is the Verification Handbook useful: Check it out

Posted by on Feb 2, 2014 in Blog, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 1 comment

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As scholastic media and their advisers move more to online media and use more social media as a reporting tool, verification remains a critical issue.

Enter the Verification Handbook, a product of Poynter’s Craig Silverman and American Copy Editors Society (ACES) Merrill Perlman.

Subtitled “A definitive guide to verifying digital content for emergency coverage” it comes across as a thorough, easy to use and authoritative tool for our students to use as they grow into digital and social media reporting.

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