This lesson is part of the AFT’s Civic Fellows initiative. In addition to focusing on the important content knowledge and dispositions that are necessary for active participation in democracy, these lessons also emphasize key approaches to civic learning: knowledge with skills; the power of deliberation and controversy; equitable civics, and teaching through Inquiry Learning. This particular lesson emphasizes knowledge with skills, as it helps students learn about key historic Supreme Court cases while practicing the key skill of argumentation. It focuses on a potentially controversial issue regarding student speech in school and supports students in engaging with it by wearing the hat of lawyers and Supreme Court Justices, which helps them practice a responsible and mature form of engagement on the issue. Learning supports and differentiated roles within the moot court help make this equitable for all learners. Finally, the lesson is an inquiry focused on the question, “Can you say what you want in school?”
These lessons and the accompanying materials were developed initially in collaboration with Nitzan Ziv as part of our American History course at Harvest Collegiate High School in New York City. Nitzan Ziv was the primary writer of most of the accompanying materials. The materials on the historical cases were adapted from Street Law’s Landmark Cases curriculum.