Real-World Censorship Activity


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Censorship isn’t always black-and-white. In this two-part activity, students examine 20 possible real-world censorship situations, research the facts behind them, and determine if censorship is ever acceptable or understandable. It’s perfect for Banned Books Week, English, libraries, debate, and media studies classes.

This activity will take approximately four days. On Days 1-2, give students the “Is Censorship Ever Okay?” worksheet. There are four different sheets, and depending on your class and the amount of time you have, you could give them all the same sheet, let them choose different sheets, or even have them complete all four sheets. Days 1-2 can be completed individually or in small groups.

On Days 3-4, students will choose a situation from the sheets and research the event in the news. I have included links and additional information about the incidents in a separate document. This activity could be extended further into a class debate or a written research paper about the event.

This set includes:

  • 20 real-world censorship situations taken from today’s headlines. Ten of the situations are “censorship at school” and ten are “censorship outside school.” Students decide if the situation is acceptable or unacceptable censorship and provide a brief explanation for their opinion. (4 pages–five situations per sheet–editable)
  • Research organizer–Students use this worksheet to organize and guide their research. (1 page–editable)
  • Information sheet–This is a reference for the teacher, but it can also be given to students to guide their research. It includes links and brief descriptions of the real-life situations I used for the 20 censorship situations. (4 pages–editable)
  • BONUS FILE: 8 censorship discussion cards (2 pages–editable)

Sample real-world censorship situations:

  • Outside school: A celebrity sues a newspaper for publishing unauthorized photos of her minor child.
  • At school: At graduation, the Valedictorian’s microphone is cut off when she starts to say things that were not in her pre-approved speech.

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