This fall, we will host our annual student conferences at three different locations across Maine, each featuring a series of workshops on different civil liberties topics that directly affect young people. Between these conferences and our many classroom visits we were able to reach more than 1,800 students last school year, but as we’ve been looking ahead to the 2014-15 school year we’ve been searching for ways to reach even more.

One way for us to ensure that more students are educated about civil liberties and civil rights is to make our lesson plans available for free, so over the past few months we’ve been uploading instructions for how to lead several of our most popular workshops. All our lessons are designed to inspire students by demonstrating to them that they have rights, while at the same time challenging them to think about the complexities of those rights and encouraging them to reach their own conclusions about how far their civil liberties should extend.

Just last week we added a new lesson plan on the 14th Amendment, which you can download for free on our education page. This particular workshop focuses mostly on the Equal Protection Clause and its effect on schools, using hypothetical controversies over athletic participation as a springboard for deeper discussions about the meaning of the 14th Amendment, as well as Title IX and the Maine Human Rights Act.

In addition to this new lesson, you’ll also find workshop materials for a mock hearing dealing with students’ right to privacy, a unique exploration of Maine’s anti-bullying law, and a mock legislative hearing on the topic of cell phone tracking and the challenges that new technology poses to our privacy rights. We also have an important “Know Your Rights With Police” guide that is downloadable both as a wallet card or as an infographic.

We’re hoping to come face-to-face with more students than ever in the year ahead, but we know that every school can’t attend our student conferences or schedule a day for us to visit in person. We hope by making our knowledge and experience available to teachers everywhere we can encourage even more students to get excited about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

If you have any questions or feedback about our lesson plans, please feel free to drop us a line. As we continue to add more resources for students and teachers we would love to hear from educators with suggestions about what would be most useful in the classroom.