Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Civics with Dean – Class 3 – First Amendment & Freedom of the Press


For this week's class on the First Amendment, I was truly fortunate to have a special guest visit with us. Kim Haas is a reporter for the Union Leader, the largest newspaper in New Hampshire. I've worked with Kim for five years. (She once gave one of my ELO students an awesome opportunity – doing photography with the newspaper.)

I began with simple questions about the First Amendment. Did students know what rights are protected by it? We then zeroed in on freedom of the press due to our guest. I asked students why it was important to have freedom of the press. Kim chimed in with, "Great question. Why is it?"

Today's lesson featured the izzit.org video, Read All About It!, which explores freedom of the press. (Along with the interesting slant that Sweden was actually the first country to codify a free press in their constitution!) 

Here are some discussion questions from the Teacher's Guide that accompanies Read All About It!:

1.What are some responsibilities that come with freedom of the press?
2. Why do people or organizations suppress expression of speech or thought? 
3. How is the access to information and human advancement connected?

Another special guest, Rob Chatfield, President and CEO of izzit.org, was astounded at what the class came up with. One student mentioned that a free press provides a check on the government. Another said it provides citizens in America with the knowledge of what's really going on, without fear of reprisal.

Kim mentioned that our First Amendment freedoms come down to freedom of thought as well. Rob mentioned how these liberties matter on an every-day basis, impacting many aspects of our lives.

We talked about our individual, natural rights, our property rights, and how all these allow a person to direct their own life. How can we even discuss these rights - or issues or infringements against our other rights – if we don't have freedom of speech? Answer: we can't.

Freedom of speech is a cornerstone of our society. Of any free society.

For homework, I assigned students to take the quiz that goes with Read All About It! (Another part of the very comprehensive Teacher's Guide that accompanies the video!) The class average was 90%! (That's a successful lesson!)

Big thanks to Kim Haas for being part of our exploration of freedom of the press, and Rob Chatfield for coming to class as well!

Dean Graziano is the Vice-President of izzit.org. He is a multi-state, award-winning educator and former Curriculum Specialist Teacher grades 6-12 Social Studies, with over 25 years in education. He served on the Massachusetts MCAS Standard Setting Panel, and also selected by the College Board to be an Advanced Placement Reader for U.S. History. He worked on the historical inquiry model and a national presenter for ABC-Clio, a Social Studies data base company. 


In 2007, in a surprise visit to his school, he was awarded the United States Department of Educations' American Star of Teaching Award. Dean was selected as the 2017 State of New Hampshire's Extended Learning Opportunity Coordinator- of -the Year. Dean’s pilot program in Rochester, NH was singled out by NH Governor, Chris Sununu as the model for the State of N.H. Career Academies. In 2019, he developed and implemented a proposal to purchase a Mobile Classroom ( a new & remodeled 36’ RV, aka M.A.P.s) utilizing Perkins V funding, to bring CTE/WBL programming - leveling the playing field/equity for ALL NH students and spoke nationally at several ACTE Conferences on this model.