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Gauging Community Attitudes Towards First Amendment Rights


The Knight Foundation surveys teens and teachers’ attitudes towards freedom of speech. Gauge your community’s attitudes towards first amendment rights as you prepare to advocate for the first ame


  • Students will assess the findings of the Knight Foundation’s Future of the First Amendment 2022 report.
  • Students will interpret the findings to develop pertinent questions they would pose to their community.
  • Students will survey their community, then synthesize and report results.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.6 Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when encountering an unknown term important to comprehension or expression.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.1Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.5 Analyze how a text uses structure to emphasize key points or advance an explanation or analysis.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.7 Integrate quantitative or technical analysis (e.g., charts, research data) with qualitative analysis in print or digital text.


90 minutes

Materials / resources

Knight Foundation’s Future of the First Amendment 2022 report

Form Maker (ex, Google FormsMicrosoft Forms, etc)


Poster Paper

Lesson step-by-step

Step 1 — Framing/Introduction (5 minutes)

Briefly ask students for anecdotal responses and first impressions to the following questions:

  • Should Schools Punish Students for Social Media Posts?
  • Does the First Amendment Protect You?
  • How Comfortable are You Disagreeing with Teachers/Other Students in Class?

This could be a discussion, an independent “Do Now” activity, and/or a private writing assignment in a journal.

Step 2 — Reading/Share (25 minutes)

Teacher introduces the Knight Foundation’s Future of the First Amendment 2022 report. Students are broken up into three groups. Each group is assigned a section to read, discuss, and then briefly present back to the entire class.

Step 3 — Reflection (15 minutes)

Ask the class to consider their local context (i.e., what is going on around them recently) and to reflect on what the most important questions in the entire survey are, especially if we are looking to educate the school community about the first amendment and freedom of speech. Choose the five most important questions to pose to the school community. What would you like to know more about? What would help you understand the state and impacts of free speech at your school? Do you think your local findings will replicate the findings from the report or diverge from them?

Step 4 — Survey (15 minutes, plus HW or out-of-class time)

Build a survey to use with your class or your entire school community. Consider how you might achieve a representative sample. How many people would have to respond? Who might you need to ask to respond to make sure you are incorporating enough perspectives?

Execute the survey and record your results.

Step 5 — Report (30 minutes)

Interpret your results and develop infographics to help communicate the results. Consider the work in the Knight Foundation report as an example and think how you might visually represent your data to inform and engage your audience. Consider making posters to display around school.


This lesson could incorporate more digital tools to build the survey and create infographics. Teachers might choose to go more in depth to discuss the top-line findings of the report. Teachers might work with students to brainstorm strategies to educate the community about first amendment rights and social issues throughout the year.