Freedom of the Press Lesson Plan

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

What is the freedom of the press and when was it enacted? This lesson plan uses a video lesson to highlight key facts about the freedom of the press in America. An activity connects students with the cases that paved the way for freedom of the press.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • define freedom of the press
  • summarize the events that contributed to the establishment of freedom of the press
  • list examples of freedom of the press

Length

1.5 to 2 hours

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.1

Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.2

Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.4

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including analyzing how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term over the course of a text (e.g., how Madison defines faction in Federalist No. 10).

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.5

Analyze in detail how a complex primary source is structured, including how key sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text contribute to the whole.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.9

Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.

Materials

  • A worksheet created using the quiz from the associated video, one for each student
  • Photocopies of the Espionage Act, the Sedition Act and the New York Times v. United States case
  • Highlighters

Instructions

  • Write the following term on the board: freedom of the press.
    • What does 'freedom of the press' mean?
    • Can anyone think of an example to clarify the term for the class?
  • Play the video lesson What is Freedom of the Press? - Definition, History & Examples, pausing it at 0:45.
    • How does the definition of 'freedom of the press' presented in the video lesson compare to what we stated at the start of the lesson?
    • Why is the freedom of the press a key concept in America?
  • Resume the video, pausing it this time at 2:45.
    • How is freedom of the press an extension of the freedom of speech?
    • Why might the government wish to keep some documents secret?
    • Is the freedom of the press uniquely American? Why or why not?
  • Play the remainder of the video lesson for the class at this time.
    • Do you think it right that 'shock jocks' and 'paparazzi' can say or do anything under the umbrella of the freedom of the press?
    • Should there be any limitations on the freedom of the press act?
  • Review key points from the video lesson with the class before continuing.
  • Pass out the worksheet and instruct the students to work independently to complete it.
  • When all students have finished the worksheet, review each question and answer with the class as students follow along checking their work.

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