The Free Speech Center

First Amendment News and Insights from MTSU

Resources for teaching.

In the Classroom

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” – The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

Help tomorrow’s citizens find their voice. Teach the First Amendment. The lesson plans, school activities and other resources below are designed to make it easier to teach our democratic republic's first freedom — the First Amendment.

Overview: Why teach the First Amendment?

The most basic liberties guaranteed to Americans — embodied in the 45 words of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution — assure Americans a government that is responsible to its citizens and responsive to their wishes. These 45 words are as alive and important today as they were more than 200 years ago. These liberties are neither liberal nor conservative, Democratic nor Republican — they are the basis for our representative democratic form of government.

We know from studies beginning in 1997 by the nonpartisan First Amendment Center, and from studies commissioned by the Knight Foundation and others, that few adult Americans or high school students can name the individual five freedoms that make up the First Amendment.

The First Amendment isn’t an artifact of legal history buried in the past. It is a living part of the everyday lives of every one of us. Especially in education, First Amendment issues offer almost limitless applications and opportunities.

Teachable aspects of the First Amendment include:

What’s here

In this section of the website, 1 for All has gathered a host of resources and ideas to help teachers teach the First Amendment. As more become available, they will be added.

The primers, lesson plans and resources below will draw young people into an exploration of how their freedoms began and how they operate in today’s world. Students will discuss just how far individual rights extend, examining rights in the school environment and public places. The primers and lessons may be used in history and government, civics, language arts and journalism, art, and debate classes. They may be used in sections or in their entirety. Many of these materials indicate an overall goal, offer suggestions on how to teach the lesson and list additional resources and enrichment activities.


1 for All First Amendment Lesson Plans:

First Amendment Primers from the Newseum Institute’s First Amendment Center. These interactive guides include:

Social Media, the Classroom and the First Amendment

A guide for middle school and high school teachers published by the First Amendment Center and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. 

Principal's Guide to Scholastic Journalism 

A guide for principals on the First Amendment and student media.

Living with Our Deepest Differences

Ten-lesson curriculum designed to help teachers educate students about religious liberty in a pluralistic society.

This site offers lesson plans on news, journalism ethics, law/First Amendment, and news literacy.

National Endowment for the Humanities

First Amendment-related lesson plans include The First Amendment: What's Fair in a Free Country?

Bill of Rights Institute

Offers lesson plans and teaching guides to strengthen students’ understanding of First Amendment rights.

PBS NewsHour Extra

NewsHour Extra stories written for students from PBS Kids and lesson plans based on the top domestic issues facing our country will help students improve their analytical skills and understand the importance of civics.


Get students involved!

Teaching the First Amendment is enhanced and enriched immeasurably by “doing” the First Amendment. Activities and projects can bring home the importance of First Amendment freedoms in ways that go beyond lessons.

Here are project ideas for getting your students excited about the First Amendment:


Much more information can be found online about the software listed above. Search for more tutorials and information about the software and equipment available at your school using your preferred search engine. YouTube is also a good place to find tutorials for beginners, as well as intermediate and advanced users.


First Amendment Encyclopedia

A comprehensive research compilation covering all aspects of First Amendment law.

First Amendment publications

From the Newseum Institute’s First Amendment Center.

First Amendment Timeline

Significant historical events, court cases, and ideas that have shaped our current system of constitutional First Amendment jurisprudence, compiled by the Newseum Institute’s First Amendment Center.

Journalism Education Association

Provides training to help journalism educators teach the basics, standards, and importance of journalism. Also bestows a variety of scholastic journalism-related awards.

National Constitution Center

An independent, nonpartisan, and nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing public understanding of, and appreciation for, the Constitution, its history, and its contemporary relevance. As a program of national outreach, the center provides the Interactive Constitution resource.

Constitution Facts

Learn more about the U.S. Constitution and your rights as a citizen.

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