Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Class Assignment: Using Google Tools to Explore the First Amendment

Freedom typePost written by Leslie Hellerman, high school Journalism teacher and participant in the 2015 Newseum Summer Teacher Institute: “Primarily Digital: Teaching Media Literacy to Plugged-in Students,” sponsored by Annenberg Learner. Look for the #ANEW15 hashtag on Twitter.  

Deciding to focus on the Google Suite of products was definitely a defining moment for me. While I do use Twitter regularly in my journalism class, I decided that Pinterest and Instagram would have to wait for another opportunity later on. Google Classroom has revolutionized the way I teach and how my students receive and submit work.

I use Google Classroom almost every day in my journalism class. My students LOVE the format, ease of keeping track of their assignments and due dates, and collaborative/individual assignments are easy for them to do. Now that I’ve been using Google Classroom regularly, I also LOVE the platform. It is so much easier for me to keep track of assignments and student submitted work. I can also help remind students when they haven’t submitted an assignment, which is really nice. Recently my students have been posting their own questions and getting the class to post answers and discussion about issues we’re discussing in class. I have featured a specific assignment below.

I have struggled to find online resources (forums, etc.) that help me learn how to do/create certain things. Additionally, our school division has had some hurdles that have made going digital really tough: students did not receive their school email addresses until several weeks into the school year, so they couldn’t access Google Classroom; our internet frequently does not work or support the number of students using the internet, so frequently the computers do not work or are so slow that it is really difficult for students to continue to work online.

My students just completed an assignment called “So what’s the First Amendment all about?” where I asked them to explore the First Amendment and how it applies to journalism. First, I asked my students to watch a short video on the First Amendment.

Then I asked my students a Google Question:

As you watch this video, think about what this MEANS to citizens of the US, businesses, our government. Also, consider what this means to people around the world who DO NOT have these same guaranteed freedoms. Students responded using Google Question, so all the students could see their classmates responses and continue to reply to the posts. Next, I created an assignment called Exploring the First Amendment where I asked students to apply what they know about the First Amendment to our journalism class and their own experiences in Google Drawing. Here was their assignment:

  1. Read the First Amendment (posted on the drawing).
  2. Define each First Amendment freedom, use words, images, definitions, examples, etc.
  3. Then, using RELIABLE news sources, find 3 examples of these freedoms (only the ones related to journalism, please) to attach to your drawing; label and briefly explain how your example demonstrates which freedom it represents. Be sure to cite your sources.
  4. Finally, find a specific example (from around the world, perhaps) that illustrates a clear violation of a First Amendment freedom. Identify where (city/country) the violation took place and if this place supports a free press.

Be creative, take a risk, think and ponder what FREEDOM really means. You’ll be sharing your creation with the class, so make it decorative, engaging, and interesting.

Finally, as a culminating activity, I had students print out a copy of their Google Drawing to create a First Amendment Freedom Folder. As we continue our exploration of journalism this year, students will fill their folder with examples of First Amendment Freedoms and violations of those freedoms from the U.S. and around the world that they see and experience. They can continue to decorate their folder with elements from our daily newspapers, lessons, and class discussions throughout the semester/year. The idea was to provide them with a tangible reminder of the freedoms we enjoy as citizens of the United States.

To see another example of how a teacher effectively uses Google tools with students, check out Jen Roberts’ (an #ANEW15 guest speaker) in “Blended Learning: Acquiring Digital Literacy Skills,” from Reading & Writing in the Disciplines).

Image Copyright: enterline / 123RF Stock Photo

Mike Wallace Debates Journalists’ Obligations When Covering War

The news-watching public noted the passing of long-time 60 Minutes correspondent Mike Wallace on April 7, 2012. Known for incisive questions to high-profile interviewees, Wallace himself was on the hot seat in Ethics in America, program 7, “Under Orders, Under Fire (Part II),” debating the role of the press in covering war atrocities. This debate starts around 31:00 in the video.

James Fallows, national correspondent for The Atlantic, writes about the Ethics in America program in his post, “Dramatic Video of Wallace, Jennings, Gingrich, and ‘North Kosan‘.” Fallows points to his 1996 article, “Why Americans Hate the Media,” in which he opens with a description of the debate between Jennings and Wallace. He also notes how the series provides a look at public figures, such as Newt Gingrich, while they are in the early stages of their careers.

This debate in Ethics in America shows students the difficult decisions that journalists face when reporting from the field.