Students’ First Amendment Rights in School

Recommended Grade Level: 9, 10, 11, 12

General Description

  • Students will examine and interpret federal court cases pertaining to student speech rights in schools.
  • Students will compare and contrast federal court cases with community views as provided by op-ed pieces in local papers.
  • Students will analyze and discuss the reason and relevance underlying court precedents, legislation, school policies and community views regarding student speech rights.

  • Bellwork: How is your typical school day different from your typical Saturday? Think about what you do, who you are with, rules you have to follow, etc.
  • Take a stand: Ask students to think about where they stand as to whether students in school should enjoy the same speech liberties as citizens in the public world. They should stand along the room in a spectrum divided by four different extremes: Students’ rights should be limited significantly in schools; Students’ rights should be limited in schools in many cases; Students’ speech rights should not be limited too much in schools, and only in certain cases; Students’ speech rights should NEVER be limited in schools.”
  • Jigsaw: Cases/op-eds about speech...summarizing/paraphrasing, evaluating/critiquing reasoning, etc… SCourt Cases: Tinker v. Des Moines, Frederick v. Morse, Bethel v. Fraser. Readings: Op-Eds, amicus briefs, global not just national?, Case law in contrast/comparison with op-eds. Resource : Concord Monitor ; hate speech and bullying law; dress codes and free speech (public decency laws); expression/Tinker; communicating a message through dress v. public decency.

  • Tinker v. Des Moines (1969)
  • Bethel v. Fraser (1986)
  • Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier (1988)
  • Frederick v. Morse (2007)
  • Articles, Op-Eds, School Policies, etc.

Materials and Documents

Videos and Media

  • The social media policy of the Lodi Unified School District is eliciting strong protests from students at Bear Creek High School in Stockton, some of whom voiced their concerns at the board meeting Tuesday night.

I am so pumped! I have so many ideas that I want to try. I love the idea of mock trials and making your classroom into a court
- Teacher
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