Writing to Read Democracy: Case Law Jigsaw

in Writing to Read Democracy in New York State & The United States
Activity 3

Created by Prof. Seth Halvorson & Dr. Erica Kaufman
Bard College Institute for Writing & Thinking

NYS Common Core Grades 11 & 12:
United States History and Government Participation in Government and Civics

This document-based sequence of activities invites students to chart the dialog between the New York State Courts, the Federal Courts, and other State Courts regarding the scope of individual rights. Generally speaking, New York State Courts are more protective of individual rights than Federal Courts and more so than other State Courts as well. The central question is: How have the New York State Courts understood the scope of individual rights? 

Developed by psychologist Elliot Aronson, the “jigsaw” is a collaborative learning technique easily adaptable for students of all ages and levels. Students are organized into groups and given specific tasks so that each student is integral to the success (or understanding) of the entire class. What follows is a modification of the “jigsaw” that aims to foster critical reading and questioning across a range of different (and contrasting) primary documents that address New York State Shield Law and freedom of expression.

This unit plan meets the following guidelines of New York State’s Common Core Social Studies Framework (2017):

Lesson Overview PDF

IWT’s Core Writing (& Reading) Practices PDF

Document Packet PDF

Case Law Jigsaw Instructions & Activity PDF

Case 1: Shield Law Documents PDF

The Historical Society’s website contains a wealth of related resources related to this unit.

Hon. Victoria A. Graffeo
Court of Appeals Judge
Wrote the majority opinion of Holmes v. Winter

Hon. Jonathan Lippman
Court of Appeals Chief Judge
Concurred with majority opinion

Hon. Sheila Abdus-Salaam
Court of Appeals Judge
Concurred with majority opinion

Hon. Jenny Rivera
Court of Appeals Judge
Concurred with majority opinion

Hon. Robert S. Smith
Court of Appeals Judge
Dissented and affirmed in separate opinion

Hon. Eugene F. Pigott, Jr. 
Court of Appeals Judge
Dissented and concurred with Judge Smith’s opinion

Hon. Susan Phillips Read
Court of Appeals Judge
Dissented and affirmed for the reasons described in the Appellate Division’s opinion (110 AD3d 134)

Image Citation: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Black-and-White Negatives, LC-USW3-033817-C.

Writing to Read Democracy: Written Conversations & Dialectical Notebooks
Collaborative Close Reading

Lesson 2
Writing to Read Democracy: Document-Based Essay in Miniature
Lesson 4
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