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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. In preparation for the NCC program, they work together in groups to understand how local and federal governments both protect this freedom and regulate its expression. After the 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 begin by examining the case’s circumstances and the Court’s majority and dissenting opinions before writing and performing mock newscasts about the ruling. Designed for students in grade 6-8, this lesson takes approximately five or six class periods from beginning to end.
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