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This lesson, which includes a pre-lesson and post-lesson, is intended to be used in conjunction with the National Constitution Center’s Free to be You program. Together, they provide students with first-hand experience about how the First Amendment establishes five key freedoms of expression for Americans: freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom to assemble peacefully, and freedom to petition the government. In this lesson, students begin by delving into an examination of the freedom to assemble peacefully through reading about two relevant news events. They work together in groups to understand how local and federal governments both protect this freedom and regulate its expression. To conclude the pre-lesson, they prepare brief presentations about additional local and national news events involving First Amendment freedoms. After the NCC program, students analyze the relationship between the First Amendment and symbolic speech through reading about Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, a landmark Supreme Court case (1969). They examine this case’s circumstances and the Court’s majority and dissenting opinions before taking a look at additional landmark cases about students’ First Amendment rights. To conclude the post-lesson, students work in groups to write and perform mock newscasts about these rulings. Designed for students in grade 9-12, this lesson takes approximately six to eight class periods from beginning to end.
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