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Lesson Plan

Censorship in the Classroom: Understanding Controversial Issues

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Censorship in the Classroom: Understanding Controversial Issues

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Unit
Estimated Time Four to five weeks
Lesson Author

Beth O'Connor

Westfield, Massachusetts


International Literacy Association



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



It is important for young people to understand their individual rights and what they, as citizens, can do to protect these rights. In addition, young people need to understand the way in which bias and stereotyping are used by the media to influence popular opinion. In this lesson, students examine propaganda and media bias and explore a variety of banned and challenged books, researching the reasons these books have been censored. Following this research, students choose a side of the censorship issue and support their position through the development of an advertising campaign.

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Self-Reflection on Censorship and Propaganda handout: Students use this handout to measure their disposition to the issues of censorship and propaganda.

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Maxwell, M. & Berman, M. (1997). To ban or not to ban: Confronting the issue of censorship in the English class. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 41, 92-96.

  • Controversial texts are ideal pedagogical tools to foster debate and to guide the development of logical thinking skills and cooperative learning.

  • Texts that teach students about ethnic, racial, and sexual diversity encourage understanding of human differences.

  • By exploring controversial texts, students acquire the tools of rational thought by which they can approach, analyze, and debate controversial issues in a forum of mutual respect and understanding.

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