Lesson Plan : Our Right to Know

Teacher Name:
 Grade 9-10
 Social Studies

 Informational Text and the Newspaper
 American Government First Amendment, U.S. Constitution, non-government,protect, independent,citizens, responsibility.
 Students will understand that information provided by a newspaper in a democracy serves as a very special purpose- it keeps citizens informed so they can understand their government and evaluate its leaders. Newspapers are protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution so that citizens will always have a non-governmental, independent source of information.
 Students will recognize the role of the press as "the public watchdog." Scandals and wrongdoing have been brought to public light by the press.
 Copies of newspapers, activity worksheets, pencil.
 Locate and read a story about a community, state or national government action that might be supported by some people but opposed by others. Use the story as a discussion prompt. One that will elicit different points of view.
 Following quote on board:"...Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. but I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them."- Thomas Jefferson Discuss Jefferson's quote. Why do you think he considered newspapers so important? Read an article about a government decision or action. Ask them who might want citizens to get that information/prefer that people not learn about it. Explain that people in powerful positions don't usually want to hear any criticism about their decisions. People who are not in power want to hear criticism about elected officials. Discuss newspaper's responsibility to report objectively to that citizens can make up their own minds.
 As a class, complete the activity sheet We Need to Know. Allow individual students to share responses.
 Read all materials aloud. Allow additional time for answering questions both verbal and written responses.
Checking For Understanding:
 Discuss the importance of having different sides of an issue represented in the newspaper. Discuss how/if our free press is different from other countries.

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