The First Amendment

Grades: 4-6, 7-9, 10-12+

Can your students name all five freedoms listed in the First Amendment? Consider this: A recent survey revealed that 29 percent of Americans could not name any of the five freedoms in 2019. This poster helps remind students of those freedoms — including the right to a free and unrestricted press — protected by the First Amendment. Not only does a free press play a vital role in a robust democracy, it also emphasizes the power and importance of information — and that, in turn, affirms the civic and personal value of being news-literate.  

Students can also use this poster to review the full text of the First Amendment, which shapes Americans’ everyday lives. These five freedoms — petition, assembly, speech, religion and press — are foundational to the country’s commitment to individual rights and civic responsibilities.  

This poster is based on the lesson “The First Amendment,” which is available through the News Literacy Project’s free Checkology® virtual classroom. In this foundational lesson, subject matter expert Sam Chaltain helps students explore six landmark First Amendment cases as they reflect on issues such as student speech in school, defamation and libel, flag-burning, and regulation of the internet. In each case study, students are invited to consider the significance of these rulings and discuss whether they agree with the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the law. As Chaltain explains, it’s important for students to understand that “First Amendment law is not clear-cut like a lot of other laws,” which means that “determining which expression is protected and which isn’t is far from an exact science.” Learning about the First Amendment in all its complexities presents rich opportunities for class discussion and debate. 

By focusing on First Amendment protections in action, this poster and accompanying lesson give students a deeper, more personal understanding of the First Amendment’s value to citizens, of the ways its protections have changed and evolved over time, and of their own First Amendment rights. 

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