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

Why teach the First Amendment?

Help tomorrow’s citizens find their voices. 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.

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

Below, the Free Speech Center 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.

Contact Us

Interested in First Amendment current events?