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Teaching the First Amendment

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A hand reaches to voting lever, with Freedoms listed.
Mon, 06/29/2020



A Fixed Star: Teaching the First Amendment and Our Most Fundamental Rights

Dates: June 29 to August 12.  There are three webinars: 7:00pm - July 8, 22, & 29 (Webinars will be recorded.) Other than the webinars, participants may work on the course at the time of day of their choosing, though work is due at multiple dates each week. 


The rights to expression and religion establish a baseline for a democratic society based on liberty and equality. This 7-week, fully online course will explore the First Amendment through scholar discussions, assigned readings, online peer discussions, and writing.     


Course participants will… 

  • learn about freedom of expression including the rights to belief, speech, press, assembly, association, and petition.

  • learn about freedom of religion and how the free exercise and establishment clauses work together to promote liberty and virtue.

  • join First Amendment scholar David Hudson three times during the course to ask questions and engage in scholarly conversation about the First Amendment. 

  • learn about, explore, and develop inquiry-based lessons on the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights.

  • learn and develop effective strategies to work with primary sources relating to the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights.  


The course will focus on learning strategies to teach the First Amendment to diverse groups of students in a culturally responsive way. The course is open to all K-12 teachers and is especially aligned with the 2018 Massachusetts Frameworks for Grade 1, 3, 5, 8, and 9-12. Participants will work in groups to investigate a wealth of sources from the Library of Congress, employing a rich mix of primary and secondary sources to support student inquiry.

In addition to completing readings and posting written reflections, participants will analyze and use a variety of primary sources to develop an inquiry-based lesson. 


Audience and Grade Level

Teachers; Grades 5-12

Continuing Education / Graduate Credits

Massachusetts teachers receive 67.5 PDPs upon completion of this course. CES will send others a letter of participation for 45 hours. 

Participants may choose instead to take this course for 3 graduate credit in partnership with Westfield State University. To earn PDPs or Graduate Credit, participants must complete all readings, webinars, and assignments. Graduate Credit from Westfield State University costs $325. 


Register Here

Cost and Registration

The cost of the training is $200 ($180 for CES members).

Program made possible with support from the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources program of the Collaborative for Educational Services. 


Image excerpted from a 1943 poster in the collections of the Library of Congress.

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