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2015 Constitution Day lessons

Posted by on Aug 31, 2015 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Legal issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments



In preparation for Constitution Day 2015, several members of the Scholastic Press Rights Committee (SPRC), a committee of the Journalism Education Association, created lesson plans specific for the event. We suggest celebrating the day Sept. 17.
We created these lessons to help 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.

Please contact me  if you have any questions or feedback about the lessons or how to implement them. For a video about the lessons, go to

The SPRC 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.

The lessons
Celebrating Constitution Dayby Lori Keekley.This activity encourages the English, social studies and journalism teachers to engage students in exploring the Constitution’s relevance to their daily lives, facts about the Constitution and understanding the amendments to the Constitution
Crossword Puzzle, by Lori Keekley. For fun activities to celebrate Constitution Day in a number of curricular areas.
• Understanding the perils of prior review and restraint, by Jeff Kocur. Click here for the activity. For additional resources and model ethical guidelines and staff manual procedures for this, go here and here.
Listening with a skeptical ear: checking source accuracy and credibility by John Bowen. 
With candidates jostling for positions in the 2016 presidential election and numerous state, local races taking shape and issues developing readers and viewers face an onslaught of information not limited to politics. Student journalists must able to separate valid from questionable information and know how to determine if sources and their messages are credible.
Where should journalists draw the line? by John Bowen. By examining The Huffington Post’s announcement it would only report Donald Trump’s bid for the Republican nomination for president on the entertainment pages, students can further explore ethical issues pertaining to the decision while again examining the role of media.
Should there be limits to taking a stance in front page design? by John Bowen. This lesson examines the ethical and philosophical issues as to whether it is OK for a student newspaper to Rainbow Filter its Twitter profile picture or show any unlabeled viewpoint.
• Censorship and broadcast video by Chris Waugaman. This lesson would be intended to be a lesson used with producers in a broadcasting class or even anonline editors who often use video and stream events. Students will learn terms that familiarize them with censorship in video and radio. Students will also learn how to make critical decisions regarding their press rights by applying the case outcomes they learn in this lesson.

To see past years’ lessons, go here.

Please send any feedback to I’d love to hear from you!

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

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)

Chris Waugaman, Prince George High School (VA)

Content list


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Join us Aug. 31 to learn more about Constitution Day

Posted by on Aug 29, 2015 in Blog, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


sprclogoNeed Constitution Day celebration ideas? Join us Aug. 31 at 7 CDT as we highlight several ways to celebrate.

Here’s where it will take place:

Members of JEA’s Scholastic Press Rights Committee will lead the session.  So far, we have Lori Keekley, Jeff Kocur, Chris Waugaman and John Bowen.

That’s 7 p.m. CDT, Aug. 31, at

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Celebrate roles student news media can bring to a democratic society; honor, envision and practice free speech

Posted by on Aug 20, 2021 in Blog | 0 comments


JEA’s Scholastic Press Rights Committee hopes to help you and your students celebrate their free speech rights this year. Constitution Day, observed on Sept. 17 each year in commemoration of the signing of the United States Constitution, is an excellent time to do it. 

This year we provide lesson materials ranging from exploring impactful, recent Supreme Court cases to applying the democratic political philosophy of John Dewey and how to use modern planning tools to improve coverage. 

We have a quick Constitution-review crossword as well as an additional blog post to help you and your students audit if your coverage was as comprehensive as you’d like.

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Use a planning tool – Futures Wheel – to build better contextual, meaningful content

Posted by on Aug 20, 2021 in Blog | 0 comments


Futures Wheels were designed by futurists to see what the future might bring, positive or negative. If positive, the wheels could be used to show how to induce something to happen. If negative, how to prevent that. Can it be a part of journalistic story planning, source acquisition and other types of information processing to craft stories that meet audience needs?


Futures Wheels: Developing and refining journalistic story planning to better identify context, background and meaningful events, empowering journalism’s social responsibilities 

A Memorial Day incident in northeastern Ohio this year raised the specter of potential First Amendment violations, opened wounds of racial tension and created ethical questions on issues of media social responsibility. How can students localize the event and issues? How could covering these issues lead to improved audience awareness and journalistic social responsibility? 

News planning using futuristic tools can provide essential information and credible leadership empowering journalistic responsibility.

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A pillar of strength: the Tinker decision

Posted by on Jan 27, 2019 in Blog, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


Mary Beth Tinker takes pictures at Kent State University’s May 4 Visitor’s Center of exhibits from the sixties. The center documents the era as its protests and time of anti-war expressiion foreshadowed the deaths of four Kent State students.

We realized as we were creating content ( see Lori Keekley’s blog) to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Tinker case, we have so much relevant material. Here are a  few by category.

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