Freedoms: Freedom of Expression
The 50-minute lesson plan which follows
highlights select issues related to the theme of this chapter: individual
freedoms. Teachers are encouraged to adapt this lesson to the language
and content learning needs of their students. Adjustments can easily
be made so that the lesson matches the needs of low- or high-proficiency
English language learners.
Preliminary Lesson Planning
Materials: For Activity 2,
compile sets of three scenarios--highlighting issues related to individual
freedoms--for each group of students. Choose from the scenarios listed
in Appendix A or create scenarios
of your own that highlight issues of concern to your students. Each
scenario should depict a situation in which at least one individual
freedom might need to be limited. Scenarios can be used with more than
Student grouping decisions:
Decide on procedures for grouping students for Activities 1 and 2; participants
will remain in the same groups for both activities. It is recommended
that groups have no more than six participants each. If appropriate,
make up tentative lists of group members. Make last minute adjustments
when it is determined which students are actually in class.
Consider the vocabulary that students need to know to complete the lesson
successfully. Determine which vocabulary items the students already
know and which items they will need to be introduced to. Some important
terms, and their definitions, are included in a glossary
in Appendix B. Items listed in the
glossary are written in bold print the first time they are mentioned
in the lesson plan.
Warm Up Activity (5-10 minutes)
- To stimulate student interest in
the topic of individual freedoms
- To draw upon students' background
- To introduce vocabulary that will
facilitate successful completion of the lesson
- Write the following list of five
freedoms on the blackboard:
Freedom of speech
Freedom of press
Freedom of assembly
Freedom of religion
Freedom of conscience
(If you do not think your students will understand this terminology,
use key words from the definitions provided in the Background
Information section of this chapter to explain their meanings.)
- Ask students what comes to mind when
they think about these freedoms. Write key words and phrases, from
student responses, on the blackboard next to each freedom. (Once
again, refer to the Background
Information section for some possible key words and concepts.)
- Ask students if they want to add
other individual freedoms to the list on the blackboard. If students
respond to your request, ask contributors to define the freedom
for their classmates. Put key words on the blackboard.
Transition from Warm
Up to Activity #1
Tell students that the class
session will be devoted to exploring the individual freedoms listed
on the blackboard.
Activity #1 (approximately 15-20 minutes)
- To provide students with opportunities
to use English in a meaningful way
- To rank order individual freedoms
and come to a group consensus on the importance of different
- To give students the chance to use
key vocabulary and concepts associated with the theme
of the lesson
- Ask students to work individually
to rank the freedoms listed on the blackboard from most important
(1) to least important (5). (If students have expanded the original
list of five freedoms to include new items, the number associated
with the least important category will have to change so that one
number can be assigned to each freedom on the blackboard.) Remind
students that there are no right or wrong answers. Circulate while
students are completing their rankings to make sure everyone completes
the assignment; help students who are having difficulties.
- Assign students to groups. Ask groups
to do the following:
a. Discuss and compare rankings
b. Explain reasons for ranking
c. Agree on a group ranking;
come to a group consensus
Circulate in the classroom while
student groups are working. For groups that have difficulties reaching
a consensus, ask them to try to agree on only the most and least
important freedoms. For groups that finish much earlier than other
groups, ask them to identify the most controversial freedoms and
to discuss the nature of the controversies.
- Ask volunteers from each group to
report on group decisions. Focus on those freedoms considered to
be most important and least important. As each group reports to
the class, record responses on the blackboard by putting a check
next to the freedoms considered most important and a check minus
next to the freedoms considered least important. If time permits,
ask group members to provide a rationale for their decisions.
Do not erase the blackboard. Come
back to it at the end of the lesson as a way to provide meaningful
closure to the lesson.
#2 (approximately 20 minutes)
- To provide students with opportunities
to use English in a meaningful way
- To reinforce key vocabulary and concepts
associated with the theme of the lesson
- To explore the intricacies of the
freedoms listed on the blackboard
- Ask students to think about the freedoms
listed on the board. Should the freedoms ever be limited? When?
Under what circumstances?
- Ask students to consider the following
situation: A teenager, in a movie theater, yells
"fire" even though there is no fire.
a. Should the teenager be allowed
to yell, "fire"? Why? Why not?
b. Which freedoms are being questioned here?
students to work in their original groups. Give each group a set
of three (or four) scenarios from Appendix
A. For each scenario, students should consider the following
a. Which freedom(s) is being
b. Should the freedom be limited?
Why? Why not?
- As students are beginning to finish
up their group discussions, ask each group to identify the most
- Ask a volunteer from each group
to comment on the most controversial scenario to classmates from
Cool Down Activity (approximately
- To provide some closure to lesson
- To give students an opportunity to
discuss relevance of lesson
- Remind students that, at the beginning
of class, they identified certain freedoms as being more important
than others are. Point to freedoms marked with a check plus
on the blackboard. Ask students if they still agree with their original
decisions. Ask for comments.
- If time permits, ask students to
think about the class session on individual freedoms. Pose questions
such as the following:
a. What did you learn in class today?
b. What differences in opinion did you hear today?
c. Should some individual freedoms be limited? If so, under what
Possible Extensions to Lesson
Ask students any of
these questions to extend the lesson.
a. Why is it important to protect freedom of expression: freedoms
of speech, press, assembly, religion, and conscience?
b. Why are restrictions of freedoms
based on time, place, and manner sometimes necessary?
c. How does the principle of "separation of church and state"
relate to individual freedoms, in particular, freedom of religion?
d. What can a society do to find a proper balance between individual
freedoms and the rights and interests of the larger society?
e. Why do you think so many nations have not been able to live up
to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?
Ask groups of students
to write up new scenarios that highlight the discord between individual
freedoms and societal interests. They can be asked to present the
scenarios to their classmates, identify the freedom(s) involved,
and explain possible restrictions.
students to list (and then present) arguments in favor of and against
an individual freedom.
Refer to the websites listed in the next section of this chapter for
more information and lesson planning ideas.
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