Free Press Lesson Plan

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Is the Press Doing their Job?

8th Grade – U.S. History

Lesson Overview:

Students will learn about the functions and responsibilities of a free press. They will learn why it is important the press does their job well and examine specific cases when they did not and the consequences that have resulted.

Standards Addressed:

History/Social Science:

  • 8.3.7 Understand the functions and responsibilities of a free press.
  • 8.3.6 Describe the basic law-making process and how the Constitution provides numerous opportunities for citizens to participate in the political process and to monitor and influence government (e.g., function of elections, political parties, interest groups).
  • 8.2 1 Enumerate the powers of government set forth in the Constitution and the fundamental liberties ensured by the Bill of Rights.

Language Arts:

  • 8RW1.3 Use word meanings within the appropriate context and show ability to verify those meanings by definition, restatement, example, comparison, or contrast.
  • 8RC2. 2.4 Compare the original text to a summary to determine whether the summary accurately captures the main ideas, includes critical details, and conveys the underlying meaning.

Engaging Scenario:

Students will learn about the role of the press. They will examine different cases where the press has been successful in their job or have failed it.

Task Summary:

TPS: What is the job of the press? Are they successful at it?

Video on Watergate:

  • Give brief overview of what Watergate was to students
  • Ask students to think about the following questions as they watch the video.
  • How did Watergate change America?
  • Was it right for the reporters to print the story?
  • Have students discuss the video and the questions with their row partners
  • Share out responses with class
  • HW: Circle Map: Why we America went to war in Iraq?

Day 2
Pick students randomly to share out their circle map responses.
Read article for The Week, Searching for Iraq’s Doomsday Weapons with class.

  • Have students highlight words they don’t understand
  • Review vocabulary
  • Highlight on student circle map reasons that they listed and that the article listed as well.
  • Have students add and highlight anyone’s they missed that the article has

HW: Have students write a persuasive essay explaining why it was right we went to war in Iraq based on the reasons listed in the article.

Day 3
Share out a couple of essays
Survey students and ask…

  • Do they believe it was right to go to war in Iraq?
  • If you believe it was right, why?
  • Create another circle map on board listing their reasons
  • If you believe it was wrong, why?
  • Why didn’t we know this information before we entered the war?

Read The New York Times excerpts of article, The Nuclear Card (October 3, 2004), with class.

  • Have students highlight words they don’t understand
  • Review vocabulary
  • Create a double bubble map comparing and contrasting the two articles with row partner
  • Share out with class

Day 4
Share out some similarities and difference the students have in their double bubbles

  • Students create a Frame of Reference of Child Soldiers
  • They should list what they know now and how they know it

Teacher reads excerpt from Innocence Lost by Jimmie Briggs (p. 1-6)

  • Students share with row partners and again add to frame of reference
  • Students read and highlight the main ideas from the article from The NY Times: The Child Soldiers
  • Students add to their frame of references at home after reading the article

Resources/Materials Needed:

  • Video on Watergate
  • Jimmie Briggs book Innocence Lost: When Child Soldiers go to War
  • Time Magazine article
  • The Week article
  • Time Magazine article: The Child Soldiers

(Student Handout Example)
Student Handout #1

Task 1: News Article
You are a newspaper reporter working for a large news organization during World War I. Your publisher wants you to focus on the important events of World War I, with in-depth examinations of specific people and events that are pivotal in the outcome of the war. You and your fellow reporters will work both individually and as a group to research the topics provided. Do some research to prepare an article about your topic. Read in your text, look up information in other books, and search the Internet. Take notes.

Your job is to write a thought-provoking article for the special Issue. Explore your assigned topic thoroughly, with enough background information so someone unfamiliar with your topic will understand it. Examine the varying viewpoints of those who were the leaders, and those who were led. Who were the significant people involved and what were the significant events?

(Scoring Guide Example)
Scoring Guide: Task 1

Exemplary (Exceeds the Standard) 45-50 points:
All proficient criteria are met, plus:

  • Article explains what connections were important between the topic and economic, political and social issues.
  • Article contains multiple perspectives on the topic

Proficient (Meets the Standard) 40-44 points:

  • Article sets the context (explains background) for the topic
  • Article explains the significance of the topic to WWI
  • Article format is correct
  • Few or no errors in spelling, grammar and punctuation

Progressing (Progressing Toward the Standard) 30-39 points:

  • At least 3 of the proficient criteria are met
  • Work contains numerous spelling and/or legibility errors
  • More work is needed

Not Yet Meeting the Standard 0-29 points:

  • Fewer than 2 of the proficient criteria are met
  • More work is needed

Peer Evaluation (Optional)
Self-Evaluation
Teacher Evaluation