The Espionage and Sedition Acts WWI Structured Academic Controversy


Grade Levels
8th – 11th
Social Studies – History, U.S. History, Other (Social Studies – History)
Resource Type
Activities, Handouts, Cooperative Learning
Formats Included
Zip, Google Apps
10 slides + 5 pages + 7 slides in the digital version

Products Included in This Bundle:


With this lesson, students participate in a Structured Academic Controversy in which they investigate whether basic freedoms should be restricted during wartime. They will investigate 5 case stories – Eugene V. Debs, Emma Goldman, Josef and Michael Hofer, Charles Schenck, and Robert Goldstein. Each was arrested and convicted with the Espionage and Sedition Acts. Students will debate whether it was right to restrict their freedoms during the war.

If you’ve never conducted a Structured Academic Controversy before, don’t worry! This lesson allows provides a full lesson plan, and a guiding presentation to ease you and your students into the process. Essentially, students will conduct a mini-debate in small groups around the essential question. A digital version of this lesson is also provided in case your students are learning in a remote or distance learning situation. You can view more in the preview here. – Restricted Freedoms in WWI

Included within this resource:

  • A PowerPoint version of the presentation (editable)
  • A PDF version of the handout (not editable)
  • A Google Slides Version of the presentation and the handout (The link provided in the lesson plan will prompt you to make your own file.)
  • A Detailed Lesson Plan
  • A digital version of the lesson in Google Slides

This lesson is linked with the following NYS standards, however, you could always include your own instead:

8.4b – International, economic, and military developments swayed opinion in favor of the United States siding with the Allies and entering World War I. Domestic responses to World War I limited civil liberties within the United States.

8.4b.3 – Students will examine the restrictions placed on citizens after United States entry into the war, including the Espionage Act (1917) and the Sedition Act (1918).

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