Classes

The Newseum offers national standards-linked, educator-led classes at no additional charge for students in grades three through University throughout the school year. Classes must be requested at least one week in advance.

Elementary, middle and high school class descriptions

University class descriptions

Classes are offered Monday-Friday at the following times

  • In the Learning Center at 9:30 a.m., 10:45 a.m., 12:15 p.m. and 1:30 p.m.
  • In the Documentary Theater at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., noon and 1 p.m.
  • Unless otherwise noted, classes are 50 minutes long.

Capacity
Most classes require a minimum of 15 students and a maximum of 36 students in the Learning Center classroom or 100 students in the Documentary Theater. Groups larger than the class capacity will be assigned staggered class times based on your group's window of availability. We appreciate hands on assistance from chaperones when needed.

Pre- and Post-Visit Lessons:
Pre- and post-visit lessons and activities to augment your students' experience can be downloaded from the Lesson Plan page.

Cancellations and No-Show Policies:
When a school fails to appear for its scheduled Newseum class, it prevents other schools from using that slot. Please notify us at least one week in advance if you must cancel your reservation.

Request a Reservation

Assistance (e.g. ASL interpretation, assistive listening, description) for programs/tours can be arranged with at least seven business days’ notice. Please contact AccessUs at AccessUs@newseum.org or by calling 202/292-6453.

 

Elementary, Middle and High School Class Descriptions

Our classes are grouped into three categories: Journalism, First Amendment, and Headlines of History.

Journalism

The following classes teach students the skills and knowledge journalists need to exercise their rights as protected by the First Amendment. Topics range from the basic – "What is news?" – to more difficult questions of responsibilities and ethics.

Speed of News
Students learn how people have shared news and information throughout history — from cave paintings to telegraphs, from criers to television. At exploration stations, students get hands-on experience with new and old forms of communications – some fast, some slow, some familiar, some not. See how technology drives the ways we share information.

Front Page Frenzy! (30 minutes)
Front Page Frenzy is the Newseum's fast-paced game of headlines and deadlines! Teams of would-be reporters scour current newspapers for the key elements of a front page, while racing across a giant game board. Students learn about nameplates, bylines, photo captions and more. The first team to "start the presses" wins – but look out for surprise pitfalls and perks along the way!

  • Grades: 3-6
  • Capacity: 36 students in the Learning Center

Choose the News
Go behind the scenes to discover how newspaper editors decide what to put on their front pages. Students define "news" and see how it may vary depending on the audience and the community. After students learn the elements of a front page using current papers, they work in teams to design their own front pages in a race to make deadline.

Believe It or Not?
Is Wikipedia reliable? How do you distinguish fact from rumor? What news source is trustworthy? This introduction to media literacy gives students a set of tools they can use to evaluate sources online, on TV and in print. Through hands-on activities and discussion, students learn how to become media savvy and put their new skills to the test.

Media Ethics
Is it OK to clean up a quote or broadcast unconfirmed information? This lesson familiarizes students with some of the ethical issues journalists face as they strive to be accurate, fair and clear. By examining real-life case studies, students grapple with issues journalists may encounter, including privacy, anonymous sources and the pressure to be first. Through discussion and debate, students become more informed media consumers.

Photo Ethics
Is it OK to alter an image or publish photos of dead bodies? Similar to the Media Ethics class, but with an emphasis on images, this lesson covers the power of photographs and the responsibilities of a photojournalist to be accurate, fair and clear. Real-life case studies help students tackle the decision-making process in deciding what's the right thing to do. Ethical dilemmas include digital manipulation, privacy and minimizing harm.

Covering a Catastrophe
Through the lens of the events of Sept. 11, 2001, students explore the unique practical and ethical challenges journalists face when covering catastrophic breaking news. Learn the challenges of sorting fact from rumor, accessing information and possible conflicts between personal and professional ethics amid the chaos. Real-life case studies prompt students to debate how they would respond in similarly difficult situations.

 

First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

The following classes give students a deeper understanding of the five freedoms — speech, press, religion, assembly and petition — guaranteed by the First Amendment, and what/why limits may be placed on them.

Battle for the Bill of Rights
Go back in time and re-live the debate over whether basic freedoms should be included in the Constitution of our new country. Students take on the roles – hats, wigs and mannerisms – of Federalists and Anti-Federalists and make their 18th century arguments for and against a Bill of Rights. Role-playing and slogan writing give students an understanding of the history and importance of our First Amendment freedoms.

Introduction to the First Amendment (15 minutes)
This 15-minute lesson introduces students to the five freedoms of the First Amendment. How do they use their freedoms, and how might their lives be different without them? Includes a showing of the popular film "Can't Touch This."

  • Grades: 5-12
  • Capacity: 36 students in the Learning Center or 100 in the Documentary Theater

First Amendment and Tinker (30 minutes)
Students learn how the five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment apply in everyday life and in school. When are there limits and why? Focusing on the Supreme Court case of Tinker v. Des Moines, learn how public schools must balance students' rights to free expression with the need to provide a safe learning environment. Includes a showing of the popular film "Can't Touch This."

  • Grades: 6-12
  • Capacity: 36 students in the Learning Center or 100 in the Documentary Theater

You Can't Say That in School?!
Students learn how the five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment apply in everyday life and in school. When are there limits and why? The landmark Supreme Court case of Tinker v. Des Moines serves as a basis to discuss how public school officials must balance students' rights to free expression with the need to provide a safe learning environment. Students then discuss and debate other real-life court cases.

You Can't Say That ?!
Is violence-laced music protected speech or an incitement to commit a crime? Are flash mobs protected assembly or breach of peace? This lesson explores the exceptions (such as defamation, obscenity and breach of peace) and restrictions that govern freedom of expression as guaranteed in the First Amendment. In small groups, students debate case studies to determine when, where and why exceptions should or may apply.

 

Headlines of History

Journalism has been called "the first rough draft of history." The following classes draw from the Newseum's vast collection of historical newspapers, newsreels and artifacts to bring events to life.

The Press and the Presidency
This class explores the roles of the president and a free press and how their relationship has changed over time. How have new technologies changed the way a president communicates with the public? What image is the president trying to convey, and why? In the Learning Center, students "act" as advisers and design a photo op for the president, while in the Documentary Theater students discuss a TV clip about what kind of media platforms are appropriate for presidents.

Making a Change: The Civil Rights Movement and the First Amendment
How did civil rights activists use their individual freedoms (speech, religion, assembly, petition) to demand change? How did Martin Luther King Jr. harness the power of the news media? Students learn about this important chapter in U.S. history and how the First Amendment was used as a vehicle for social change. A documentary based on primary sources looks at key dates in the movement and the press's role in covering the push for equality.

The Civil War: From the Front Lines to the Front Pages
Explore how technological breakthroughs revolutionized news coverage of the Civil War. Learn how journalism then differed from today and the technologies used to get information from the front lines of the battlefield to the front page. Students then take on the role of editors at Civil War-era newspapers and complete their own front pages, with the use of maps, engravings and telegraph messages. They experience firsthand the practical and ethical challenges journalists encountered back then.

 

University Class Descriptions

Our classes are grouped into three categories: Journalism, First Amendment and Headlines of History

Journalism

Media Ethics
Is it OK to clean up a quote or broadcast unconfirmed information? This lesson familiarizes students with some of the ethical issues journalists face as they strive to be accurate, fair and clear. By examining real-life case studies, students grapple with issues journalists may encounter, including privacy, anonymous sources and the pressure to be first. Through discussion and debate, students become more informed media consumers.

  • Capacity: 36 students in the Learning Center or 100 in the Documentary Theater

Photo Ethics
Is it OK to alter an image or publish photos of dead bodies? Similar to the Media Ethics class, but with an emphasis on images, this lesson covers the power of photographs and the responsibilities of a photojournalist to be accurate, fair and clear. Real-life case studies help students tackle the decision-making process in deciding what's the right thing to do. Ethical dilemmas include digital manipulation, privacy and minimizing harm.

  • Capacity: 36 students in the Learning Center or 100 in the Documentary Theater

First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

You Can't Say That?!
Is violence-laced music protected speech or an incitement to commit a crime? Are flash mobs protected assembly or breach of peace? This lesson explores the exceptions (such as defamation, obscenity and breach of peace) and restrictions that govern freedom of expression as guaranteed in the First Amendment. In small groups, students debate case studies to determine when, where and why exceptions should or may apply.

  • Capacity: 36 students in the Learning Center or 100 in the Documentary Theater

You Can't Say That in School?!
Students learn how the five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment apply in everyday life and in school. When are there limits and why? The landmark Supreme Court case of Tinker v. Des Moines serves as a basis to discuss how public school officials must balance students' rights to free expression with the need to provide a safe learning environment. Students then discuss and debate other real-life court cases.

  • Capacity: 36 students in the Learning Center or 100 in the Documentary Theater

Headlines of History

The Press and the Presidency
This class explores the roles of the president and a free press and how their relationship has changed over time. How have new technologies changed the way a president communicates with the public? What image is the president trying to convey, and why? Students watch and discuss a "Nightline" clip about what kind of media platforms are appropriate for presidents.

  • Capacity: 36 students in the Learning Center or 100 in the Documentary Theater

Making a Change: The Civil Rights Movement and the First Amendment
How did civil rights activists use their individual freedoms (speech, religion, assembly, petition) to demand change? How did Martin Luther King Jr. harness the power of the news media? Students learn about this important chapter in U.S. history and how the First Amendment was used as a vehicle for social change. A documentary based on primary sources looks at key dates in the movement and the press's role in covering the push for equality.

  • Capacity: 36 students in the Learning Center or 100 in the Documentary Theater

Covering a Catastrophe
Through the lens of the events of Sept. 11, 2001, students explore the unique practical and ethical challenges journalists face when covering catastrophic breaking news. Real-life case studies prompt students to debate how they would respond in similarly difficult situations.

  • Capacity: 36 students in the Learning Center or 100 in the Documentary Theater
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