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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


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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