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Three Cases That Define Student Rights

Students collaborate to distinguish the rulings in three landmark student speech cases that have an impact on their First Amendment rights at school.

What’s Different About This Activity?
  • Stimulates Higher-Order Thinking
  • Compares Media Reports to Primary Sources
  • Uses Collaborative Learning Methods
  • Sharpens Analytical Skills in Drawing Distinctions
  • Assesses Learning Through Political Cartooning/Memes 

How to Use These Resources                

Start Here: The Activity Download is the place to find the web resources formatted as courtroom- and classroom-ready handouts that can be mixed and matched.

Each activity ranges from 35 to 50 minutes and is designed for use in courtrooms by judges and classrooms by teachers. They require only a quick, read-through by the facilitating adult. Most activities can stand alone, and all can be mixed and matched to contract or expand into the time available.

Warm Up/Introduction(35 minutes) Media Literacy Activity:  Students read a news item about each landmark case and report their first impressions/opinions. After they read the case, students compare their first impressions from the news to their deeper understandings after reading the primary sources – the actual Supreme Court rulings.

Activities for Courtrooms and Classrooms 

Collaborative Activities: Jigsaw and Comparisons

  • Jigsaw(45 minutes) Using a jigsaw format, students work in small groups to study the three landmark cases. They 1) learn about their assigned landmark case; 2) teach their peers about their case; 3) learn from peers in small groups about the other two cases. 
  • Comparisons(45 minutes) Students 1) apply Tinker v. Des Moines to a student walkout scenario; 2) compare the rulings in the three landmark cases; and 3) cycle through the roles of attorneys and judges to experience different perspectives on the same issues.

Oral Arguments(50 minutes) Scripted Supreme Court Simulation: Students participate as justices and attorneys in a scripted Tinker v. Des Moines Supreme Court oral argument.  After the simulation, they discuss excerpts from the majority and dissenting opinions.

Outcomes. (30 minutes) Assessment: Political Cartooning/Memes: Students demonstrate what they have learned by drawing a political cartoon or meme that illustrates the impact of the landmark cases on the contemporary school walkout scenario.