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Lesson Plan

Exploring Free Speech and Persuasion with Nothing But the Truth

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Exploring Free Speech and Persuasion with Nothing But the Truth

Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Five 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Jacqueline Podolski

Milwaukee, Wisconsin


National Council of Teachers of English



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



After reading the novel Nothing But the Truth, students discuss the protagonist Phillip and his right to free speech as well as their own rights. Students examine various Websites to research First Amendment rights, especially as they relate to the situation in the novel. After their research, students compose a position statement regarding their opinion of whether Philip's rights were violated then work with small groups to strengthen their statements and supporting evidence. Groups present position statement and supporting evidence to the whole class and debate Philip's civil rights as a culminating activity.

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Persuasion Map: Use this online tool to map out and print your persuasive argument. Included are spaces to map out your thesis, three reasons, and supporting details.

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In "Writing to Think Critically: The Seed of Social Action", Randy Bomer states that "one of the goals many writing teachers share is that of enabling students, usually rendered voiceless in the world at large, to speak for social change in their writing" (2). Bomer declares that "we want students to view their writing as more than exercises for learning to write, as more than obedience to teacher instruction, but rather as a unique form of social action" (2).

Students begin to see writing as more than a teacher-directed exercise when they can see how their writing relates to their lives and the world around them. It is useful to use an interdisciplinary approach that blends two or more disciplines together, as social justice cannot be achieved through writing alone. Rather, a writer must understand the social, historic, and scientific background of an issue. One such issue that is addressed in this lesson, is students' freedom of verbal expression-what speech is protected by the First Amendment? How is the nature of a particular expression determined? Who has the final authority in issues of free speech?

Further Reading

Bomer, Randy. "Writing to Think Critically: The Seeds of Social Action." Voices from the Middle 6.4 (May 1999): 2-8.


Tchudi, Stephen, and Stephen Lafer. "Interdisciplinary English and the Contributions of English to an Interdisciplinary Curriculum." English Journal 86.7 (November 1997): 21-29.

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