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Information worth class discussion
– and action

Posted by on Mar 14, 2015 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Legal issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


sprclogoLooking for information concerning free expression to spark discussion?

Consider these sites:

• What’s the impact of overzealous Internet filtering

• Journalism and public shaming: some guidelines

• Expulsion of two OK students over video leads to Free speech debate

• Sunshine Week 2015 ideas and activities from SPJ

• Sunshine Week Facebook page

Sunshine Week lessons and activities

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What filters hide: a lesson

Posted by on Sep 24, 2014 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Legal issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments



What filters hide

Students will research common net issues with filtered sites. This lesson goes with information on this SPRC link.


Students try to access several commonly banned (but legitimate) sites. They then will create interview questions for the internet gatekeeper at their school. Students could write a news-feature story on this topic. For an extension activity, students could debate the legitimacy of banned websites. Students could then write an opinion piece on the website gatekeepers


  • Students will discover what types of worthwhile sites are banned by their school district
  • Students will learn the filtering software was mandated by federal legislation.
  • Students will create interview questions for the person in charge of deciding whether to open the “gate”
  • Students will write a story about internet filtering at their school

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11–12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.2 Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.2a Introduce a topic; organize complex ideas, concepts, and information to make important connections and distinctions; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., figures, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.2b Develop the topic with well-chosen, relevant, and sufficient facts, extended definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples appropriate to the audience’s knowledge of the topic.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.8 Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the usefulness of each source in answering the research question; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

100 minutes: (two 50-minute class periods)

Computer lab and Internet access

Lesson step-by-step
Day 1

  1. Introduction — 5 minutes            Ask students if they have ever been denied access to a website while researching at school.

Ask students to brainstorm what they were searching for at that time. Either the teacher or the students should write what students say on the board.

Additionally, ask if they know of anyone who has gone around the filtering system by means of a proxie site.

  1. Online readings — 20 minutes

Ask students to read the following stories and take notes on their reading. Please let them know they will be interviewing the person who is in charge of the gatekeeping at their school. Remind students they should be professional in the interview.

Students could also see if they can think of legitimate sites that fall under the following often blocked categories and check to see if they can access the site:

Alcohol and tobacco

Illegal gambling


Drug use



Gross depictions


Search engines

Sports and leisure

Sex education

Sexual acts

Full nudity

Partial/artistic nudity.

  1. Question generation — all but the final 10 minutes of the hour.

Have students create questions based on what they have read. Each student should have between 5-10 good questions for the press conference during the next class.

  1. How to act — 5 minutes

Remind students they need to be polite and courteous, but not be afraid to ask the tough questions.

Day 2

  1. Introduction — 5 minutes

Introduce the speaker and remind students of proper protocol for a press conference.

  1. Interview — remainder of the hour


If the “gatekeeper” isn’t available, students could write an opinion piece about what they researched or a feature article on their research of blocked sites.



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What ‘s banned in your neighborhood?
Banned Websites Awareness Week brings
chance to examine extent of Internet filtering

Posted by on Sep 24, 2014 in Blog, Broadcast, Ethical Issues, Legal issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching, Visual Reporting, Yearbook | 0 comments


sprclogoAccording to a new report from the American Library Association, Internet-filtering software blocks more content than required and deprives students of access to information and collaborative tools

Titled Fencing Out Knowledge: Impacts of the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) 10 Years Later, the report also argues those children most affected are the poor, who might not otherwise have unfiltered Internet Access if they cannot access it at school.

JEA’s Scholastic Press Rights Committee would like to see how journalism programs currently fare in today’s filtered high schools.

We urge you to complete the linked  survey to see what your schools filters block, either for your students or for other classes in your school.BWAD-2014_webbadge

Students surfing the Web themselves or interviewing others who do can provide students with a worthwhile experience in news literacy as they become informed about information availability and how that affects society’s knowledge and ability to act on that knowledge.

We hope this survey will gather enough representative information to allow JEA and others to design strategies to help journalism programs work in a less filtered environment.

This lesson plan by Lori Keekley can add structure to your searching.

Survey instructions:

  1. Click here to go to the survey.
  2. Each student or adviser should complete a separate form.
  3. Each form allows the student or adviser to identify multiple blocked sites
  4. Submit the results of your surveys from Sept. 24 to Oct. 3
  5. Submit all forms by Oct. 3
  6. If you gathered any of your information using audio or video or have any visual reporting, please feel free to share that with us here
  7. Use links on the accompanying graphic to access Internet filtering
  8. JEA’s Scholastic Press Rights Committee will post information about the results in the near future
  9. Publish results of your own surveys to show the local impact of filtering and share with us
  10. If you have questions or run into problems, contact us here
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Internet filters: What do they really block?

Posted by on Sep 23, 2014 in Blog, Broadcast, Ethical Issues, Legal issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching, Visual Reporting, Yearbook | 0 comments


by John Bowen
sprclogo“For speech class, senior Dave Jennings needed to find information about Nirvana and Kurt Cobain,” Maggie Beckwith, senior reporter for the Lakewood Times, began her story on the effects of Internet filtering.

“I was trying to go to the Rolling Stone magazine web site to get lyrics” Jennings said. “I couldn’t get to anything.”

Later in the story, Beckwith quoted Judith Krug, director of the Office of Intellectual Freedom, a division of the American Library Association. “Administrators can say they are ‘protecting the children’ but no they not. Filters limit choices young people have in terms of accessing school work and pursuing their own intellectual curiosity.”

That was in 2002.

Beckwith went on to study journalism at Syracuse University and interned at the Student Press Law Center.

Internet filters continued blocking legitimate sites.

Since then, groups have challenged the effectiveness of Internet filters as educationally unsound and operations for prior review and censors that set up barriers and taboos instead of educating you, according to a fact sheet on The Free Expression Policy Project website.

To raise awareness of overly restrictive blocking in schools and school libraries of legitimate, educational websites aBWAD-2014_webbadgend academically useful social networking tools, The American Association of School Librarians has designated Wednesday, Sept. 24 as Banned Websites Awareness Day

AASL asked school librarians and other educators to promote an awareness of how overly restrictive filtering affects student learning as part of Banned Books Week.

As part of that recognition, JEA’s Scholastic Press Rights committee will conduct a national survey of the impact of Internet filters beginning that day and last a week. We invite you and your students to take part in the survey by going to and accessing the survey information there.

The commission asks students and advisers to test their Internet filters to see if their filtering goes beyond what filters are charged with blocking by the Children’s Internet Protection Act as numerous studies and groups have argued.

When information has been gathered, SPRC will report on the survey’s results and share that data.

Please check the committee’s website, its Facebook page or JEA’s Facebook page Sept. 24 for access to the survey.


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Two news items worth noting

Posted by on May 20, 2009 in News | 0 comments


Two items caught my fancy this morning. One is about the Tennessee ACLU suing two school districts for blocking LGBT Web sites. The other talks about book banning – and maybe even burning. Well worth some attention from your classes.

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