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Censorship Teacher Resources
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Students analyze primary source documents of the 1920s to find the roots of film censorship and understand Pennsylvania's leadership in this movement. They analyze government censorship documents that banned a film in Pennsylvania and compare and contrast their earlier findings to the modern-day rating system used for films.
What comes to mind when learners think about campaign financing? They watch a video (linked) about the fundraising climate during the 2012 presidential election and discuss Super PACs and Supreme Court legislation as a group. Scholars focus on rhetorical device by listening to famous speeches and completing a graphic organizer on persuasive techniques. Next they view four Super PAC ads and complete an analysis of what they see. In a well-formed paragraph, researchers synthesize conclusions based on one of the ads. A rubric is included, and all worksheets are separated into middle school and high school levels. The informational text and resource links here are invaluable.
Over the course of two class periods, young historians explore human rights issues; specifically, forced labor in China. This resource provides everything you need, including relevant vocabulary, an anticipatory activity, and a small-group project. The entire class responds to preliminary questions to elicit prior knowledge and understanding of this issue, and then they watch a video clip of Harry Wu's "Speak Truth to Power" service announcement. Next, the class is divided into four groups and each assigned an aspect of Wu's experience to research. By the end of the second class period, each group must be prepared to share what they learned in a presentation (collage/poster, role-play, poem, PowerPoint, or song/rap). Not only is this a well-constructed plan, it addresses several Common Core standards and includes extension activities. Some elements are dated, but this does not impact its usefulness.
Should schools restrict students' freedom of expression? Expert groups examine one of six primary source documents and then engage in a jigsaw discussion of this hot-button topic. Individuals then craft an expository essay, taking a position on the topic and citing evidence from the documents. A great way to prepare for the DBQ portion of the US history AP exam.
“Learning to discuss. . . controversial topics in an open and respectful way is a key to ensuring a healthy classroom, school, and community.” Guided by this principle, this resource is structured with a series of exercises that asks class members to explore hate symbols and hate speech. Learners look at the historical significance and harmful effects of these words and symbols, examine the First Amendment and consider how it should apply, and set ground rules for discussing controversial topics “in an open and respectful way.”
Using the variety of videos, articles, and other materials provided here, class members explore the importance of monuments, historical narratives, and shared memory. After reading and participating in a Socratic seminar, pupils choose a monument to research, write a paper about, and re-represent either with description or an actual physical product. An involved project that requires critical and creative historical thinking.
Should newspapers and broadcast news programs show images of violence, destruction, and death? Challenge your class to join the debate. After reading and discussing the New York Times article, “Breaking a Taboo, Editors Turn to Images of Death,” each class member is given an article and an accompanying emotionally charged photograph. Individuals then respond to a series of questions about whether or not the photo should be published.
“I have in my hand 57 cases of individuals who would appear to be either card carrying members or certainly loyal to the Communist Party. . .” Senator Joseph McCarthy certainly stirred the pot with his claims. The result was a series of legislative actions that put McCarthy in the spotlight and First Amendment rights in jeopardy. Was Congress’s violation of the First Amendment during the McCarthy Era justified? To prepare to respond to this guiding question, class members examine a series of primary source documents including the First Amendment, the Smith Act, and Joseph McCarthy’s speech delivered February, 1950, in Wheeling, West Virginia. After group and full-class discussions, individuals craft an essay using evidence drawn from the documents to support their argument.
Free speech, privacy, and cyberbullying are the focus of a series of activities that cause class members to engage in discussions about these interrelated topics. They view a segment from PBS’s “Cyberbullying—Effects on Teens Across the Nation,” read articles about teens who committed suicide, and discuss the motivations of key players in several scenarios. A powerful topic sensitively handled.
Music tells fascinating stories when it comes to wartime protest. Researchers analyze some familiar tunes to determine what they reveal about the political and social climate of Vietnam War-era America. They also discuss ways music operates as a protest tool. Kids will enjoy the linked PowerPoint, which features Lady Gaga as a discussion starter to get scholars thinking about what current music trends reveal about modern society. The presentation also discusses strategies for song analysis, and you may consider having learners take notes. They analyze a protest song (linked) together using a graphic organizer and then choose one of their own from one of the linked resources, preparing a presentation to explain its significance to the class. Use the rubric for easier assessment!
Why do some phrases contribute to a weak authorial voice? The first page of this packet explains what a strong and weak voice sound like, and it lists some common phrases that clutter writing, ultimately weakening it. The second page requires the writer to strengthen the voice of each of the eight sentences provided.
Young scholars read and respond to a history of Korea. For this occupation lesson, students work in groups to research the effects of Japanese occupation and create an illustrated timeline. Young scholars listen to a lecture and write an acrostic. Students create and write a newspaper on the occupation of Korea by the Japanese from the point of view of various groups.
Is journalism more or less reliable with the influx of Internet sources? Learners investigate the issues of freedom of speech, journalistic ethics, and social responsibility in the age of Twitter and Facebook. After examining the Professional Journalists Code of Ethics, and the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights, class members engage in socratic seminars and develop speeches in which they present their views on the responsibilities of today’s journalists.
This lesson starts out with a guided discussion about the statement "Birds fly in the sky; airplanes fly in the sky; therefore, airplanes are birds" and goes on to cover logical fallacies and reliable sources, relating these to the topic of hate and how people spread hate. The lesson asks learners to investigate an unreliable website in order to demonstrate logical fallacies and hate spreading. You might need to find your own website, since the website they cite is no longer the same.
What does "freedom of speech" mean to your class, especially in the context of Internet communications? In round-table discussion format, middle and high schoolers address the issues discussed in "State Legislatures Across U.S. Plan to Take Up Internet Issues." Use this lesson to reinforce proper debate and discussion procedures.