12th Grade Government New York

First Amendment

This inquiry leads students through an investigation of students’ rights and the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. By investigating the compelling question, students consider the ways in which their rights provide a unique perspective on learning about the First Amendment and the extent to which schools are “special areas,” in which various courts have made rulings that may be seen as limiting students’ First Amendment rights.


Compelling Question:

Are Students Protected by the First Amendment?

Staging the Question:

Read a story from the Washington Post about students in Ohio who were expelled for posting rap videos to their social media pages; then assess the actions of the school and the students.

Supporting Question What is the difference between the Tinker Standard and Fraser Standard as they relate to students’ free speech?

Formative Task Complete a T-chart on the differences between the Tinker Standard and Fraser Standard.

Sources Source A: First Amendment, Bill of Rights
Source B: Excerpt from a summary of "Tinker v. Des Moines School District"
Source C: Excerpt from a summary of Bethel School District v. Fraser


Supporting Question Does the “no prior restraint” rule apply to students?

Formative Task Explain in a paragraph the extent to which the Constitution’s no prior restraint rule applies to the Hazelwood and Layshock cases.

Sources Source A: Definition of the term “prior restraint”
Source B: A summary of "Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier"
Source C: Excerpt from a summary of "Layshock v. Hermitage School District"


Supporting Question How does the Supreme Court determine the limits of students’ rights?

Formative Task Write a concurring or a dissenting opinion on Morse v. Frederick.

Sources Source A: A summary of Morse v. Frederick
Source B: Excerpt from Justice Thomas’s concurring opinion in Morse v. Frederick


Supporting Question Can school officials exert control over students’ use of social media?

Formative Task Develop a claim supported by evidence about school control over social media that answers the supporting question.

Sources Source A: Excerpt from Judge Kravitz’s Memorandum of Decision in "Doninger v. Niehoff"
Source B: Excerpt from Judge Garber’s decision in "Evans v. Bayer"
Source C: Excerpt from Judge Simon’s decision in "T. V. v. Smith-Green Community School Corporation"
Source D: Excerpt from Judge Wilson’s decision in "J. C. v. Beverly Hills United School District"

Summative Performance Task

Argument: Are students protected by the First Amendment? Construct an argument (e.g., detailed outline, poster, essay) that addresses the compelling question using specific claims and relevant evidence from historical and contemporary sources while acknowledging competing views.
Extension: Have an informed debate in class about whether students are protected by the First Amendment.

Taking Informed Action

Understand: Investigate the challenges to New York students’ First Amendment rights in the digital age by researching cases of cyberbullying and legislation aimed at protecting students.
Assess: Evaluate the school’s current cyberbullying and social media policies and the extent to which they align with recent First Amendment legislation.
Act: Evaluate the school’s current cyberbullying and social media policies and the extent to which they align with recent First Amendment legislation.