Respecting Freedom of Speech

This lesson plan teaches about private versus government action regarding speech rights and is designed to help students consider the point where respect and freedom of expression intersect.  By using “respect” as a theme, students are taught to focus on the main idea behind the First Amendment.  The lesson plan's strengths are in the questions asked that will cause students to understand the purpose of this amendment and apply it to their own lives for deeper connection to its meaning.


How do you use it?

This lesson plan teaches students how to speak with respect — and does so via an easily understood format for the judge or teacher.  The readings are good case studies on the First Amendment.  The lesson plan is well prepared for the audience, with clear definitions and well thought-out responses to the questions students may have.

This lesson is extensive in its breadth.  It may, in its totality, be too much for middle school students, although "Respect" and "Freedom of Speech" are important lessons children must know and understand at an early age.  The lesson plan can be mined for activities that can work well for younger students. 

Who is the audience?

"Respecting Freedom of Speech" can be used to teach high school as well as middle school students. 


What other resources will complement this?

  1. 9/11 and the Constitution  Lesson plans from the Center for Civic Education (M, H)  
  2. A Day in the Life  Interactive "game" from (M, H)
  3. Balancing Free Speech and Fair Trial   Lesson Plan from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (H)
  4. Courts in the Classroom  Videos from the Judicial Council of California and the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (P, M H)
  5. Interpreting the Constitution: What Does That Mean?  Lesson Plan from iCivics (H)
  6. Korematsu and Civil Liberties  Video from the Leonore Annenberg Institute for Civics (H, A)
  7. One Person, One Vote  Video and lesson plan from the Leonore Annenberg Institute for Civics (H, A)
  8. Perseverance and the Bill of Rights  Lesson plan from the Bill of Rights Institute, via the National Constitution Center (M, H)  
  9. Supreme Decision  Game from iCivics (M, H) 
  10. The First and Fourteenth Amendments  Lesson Plan from Channel One (M, H)  
  11. The Story of the Bill of Rights  Videos and game from the Leonore Annenberg Institute for Civics (M, H)
  12. Yick Wo and the Equal Protection Clause  Video from the Leonore Annenberg Institute for Civics (H, A)

Additional Recommended Resources Off-Site Links
  1. A Constitutional Timeline
    • Multi-aged audience timeline that highlights key dates in history of Constitution, with links to text, audio and video clips. From National Constitution Center's Constitution Day site. 
  2. Interactive Constitution
    • Multi-aged audience site that enables users to search Constitution by keyword or topic, with access to explanatory materials throughout. From National Constitution Center.   
  3. The Annenberg Guide to the United States Constitution
    • Multi-aged audience site that lists the text of each section of every article in the Constitution, and provides explanation of what the text means in plain language.  From the Leonore Annenberg Institute of Civics. 
  4. Understanding the Federal Courts
    • Multi-aged online textbook-type document that includes sections on Article III, the Federal Court system and the geographical boundaries of the Courts of Appeal and the District Courts, the code of conduct for judges, juror qualifications, exemptions and terms of service, as well as categories of bankruptcy cases.  From the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts.