Several studies have demonstrated that Americans lack comprehensive knowledge of the rights guaranteed them by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Here is a teaching activity guide called “First Things First: Using the Newspaper to Teach the Five Freedoms of the First Amendment.” It was created by the 2001 winners of the Newspaper Innovators in Education Awards, sponsored by the Newspaper Association of America Foundation and the Newseum. The goal of the guide is to provide a tool for teachers to build public awareness and understanding about the First Amendment in schools. Incorporating newspaper activities into the curriculum achieves this goal using each of the five freedoms as the vehicle for instruction.
Do you know what the five freedoms are that are guaranteed by the First Amendment?
1. Freedom of Religion: The First Amendment prevents the American government from establishing an official religion. Citizens have the freedom to attend the church, synagogue, temple or mosque of their choice or not attend at all. The First Amendment allows us to practice our religion the way we want to.
2. Freedom of Speech: The First Amendment keeps the American government from making laws that might stop us from expressing rational opinions. People have the right to criticize the government and to share their opinions with others.
3. Freedom of the Press: A free press means we can get information from many different sources. The government cannot control what is printed in newspapers, magazines and books, broadcast on TV or radio or offered online. Citizens can request time on television to respond to views with which they disagree; they may write letters to newspaper editors and hope those letters will be printed for others to see. They can pass out leaflets that give their opinions. They can have their own Web pages and offer their opinions to others through the many means made available by the Internet.
4. Freedom of Assembly: Citizens can come together in public and private gatherings. They can join groups for political, religious, social or recreational purposes. By organizing to accomplish a common goal, citizens can spread their ideas more effectively.
5. Right to Petition: To petition the government for a redress of grievancesâ€ means that citizens can ask for changes in the government. They can do this by collecting signatures and sending them to their elected representatives; they can write, call or e-mail their elected representatives; they can support groups that lobby the government.
he lessons in the guide will allow your students to analyze events in the newspaper and form conclusions incorporating the five freedoms of the First Amendment. Some of the skills developed by using these lessons are critical thinking, decision-making, summary writing, problem solving, researching, prioritizing, negotiating and organizing.Â
The five units are divided into Elementary, Middle and High School activities complete with goals and evaluations.
Download the guide by clicking the link below