Resources for Educators
Teachers wishing to incorporate material on religious freedom into the classroom have many wonderful resources to choose from. Here are some that we have found:
A worthwhile starting point in a US History or 12th grade Government class. This link is a full-length lesson plan on the 1st Amendment and the establishment clause. It provides many links to Supreme Court cases involving religious freedom as well as other links to current issues in regards to the separation of church of state. The step by step approach can be implemented in your classroom today and generate much debate and class discussion. Don't forget to use the questions already provided in the lesson plan.
This is a very useful lesson plan for middle school students that gets them thinking about religion in public places. It is a little bit dated in the sense that it deals (and has links to articles) with issues from the early 2000s such as the Alabama 10 commandments case and the Bush Faith Based Initiative. However, it is a prepared standards-based lesson plan on separation of church and state and it frontloads the vocabulary as well as the discussion issues in a Agree/Disagree segment. One of the components of this lesson is a Q/A with guest speakers from secular and religious charities that will be helpful for students to learn from a person who deals with these issues on a regular basis. The last phase of the lesson is a case study on separation of church and state. At the bottom of the lesson plan there is a link with the author/teacher's information in case you would like to ask him a question.
A link from the previous lesson plan leads to this lesson plan. This one is on Hate Crimes and the standards covered also fall under the category of Language Arts. It introduces students to academic controversies--a range of issues that can be explored through debates and discussions after reading certain articles and referring to their historical context. There's really a lot to explore here but it can apply to many different grade levels.
Teachablemoment.org is a great resource for all grades and subjects. This particular lesson is extremely practical and fun to implement. It has various cases studies from the teaching of evolution and prayer is schools to bussing and federal funding for religious groups. The first part of the web site has each case study and the issue at hand and various writing activities for students in which they must see things from others' perspectives. The rest of the site is a case by case explanation of the outcomes of the court cases for the teacher's understanding. It could be carried out throughout one week or done in groups of students all in one day. Although the site does not specify grade level or standards covered, (the author's contact info. is included for questioning), it seems appropriate for 9th-12th graders who might be able to think more sophisticatedly about separation of church and state issues.
The following are Lesson Plans for High School recommended by the First Amendment Center, the nation’s foremost organization devoted to educating on First Amendment issues, and produced by 1forAll.org.http://1forall.us/teach-the-first-amendment/
Would You Fight For All Five? Weighing Our
First Amendment Freedoms
Students explore the interplay between the five First Amendment freedoms, then play an elimination game as a class to determine which freedom their group believes is the most important.
Taking Exception: Modern First Amendment
Students read about modern First Amendment court cases. They then take and defend a position on the argument of a case.The cases selected include an Establishment Clause case involving the public display of the Ten Commandments, and a free exercise of religion case involving a rabbi in the military who was disciplined for wearing of a yarmulke.
Living With Our Deepest Differences
Ten-lesson curriculum designed to help teachers educate students about religious liberty in a pluralistic society.
You Are Free To “Exercise”
Students consider five cases in which an individual’s religious freedom comes into conflict with the standards and beliefs in our society.
Public Schools and Prayer: Do They Mix?
Students review the laws and study different in-school and after-school activities where there has been conflict.