A Fixed Star: Teaching the First Amendment and Our Most Fundamental Rights

Emerging America
Graduate Credits: 


The rights to expression and religion establish a baseline for a democratic society based on liberty and equality. This 7-week, fully online course will explore the First Amendment through scholar discussions, assigned readings, online peer discussions, and writing.  

Participants will:

  • learn about freedom of expression including the rights to belief, speech, press, assembly, association, and petition.
  • learn about freedom of religion and how the free exercise and establishment clauses work together to promote liberty and virtue.
  • join First Amendment scholar David Hudson three times during the course to ask questions and engage in scholarly conversation about the First Amendment. 
  • learn about, explore, and develop inquiry-based lessons on the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights.
  • learn and develop effective strategies to work with primary sources relating to the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights.  

The course will focus on learning strategies to teach the First Amendment to diverse groups of students in a culturally responsive way. The course is especially aligned with the 2018 Massachusetts Frameworks for Grade 1, 3, 5, 8, and 9-12. Participants will work in groups to investigate a wealth of sources from the Library of Congress, employing a rich mix of primary and secondary sources to support student inquiry. Participants will analyze and use a variety of primary sources to develop an inquiry-based lesson.


Teachers; Grades K - 12 


67.5 PDPs will be awarded to participants upon completion of this training, in addition to outside reading and assignments (as per DESE regulations). 

Participants may choose instead to take this course for 3 graduate credits in partnership with Westfield State University. To earn PDPs or Graduate Credit, participants must complete all assignments. Graduate Credit from Westfield State University costs $325. Registration for Graduate Credit takes place in the first class, with payment accepted by credit card or check.


Future training dates will be announced here. If you have questions or are interested in offering this training on-site, please contact us.


  • thumbnail image of Kelley Brown

    Kelley Brown is a Social Studies educator at Easthampton High School where she has taught for the last 20 years. She is also the Professional Development Coordinator. She focuses on bringing primary sources and disciplinary literacy skills into the Social Studies classroom for all students.

  • thumbnail image of David Hudson

    David L. Hudson, Jr., an Assistant Professor of Law, teaches Legal Information and Communication at Belmont University. He is the author, co-author, or co-editor of more than 40 books. For much of his career, he has worked on First Amendment issues. He serves as a Justice Robert H.


A maximum class size is set for each course and registrations are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. If the number of registrations for a course exceeds the maximum seats available or is too low to be able to conduct a quality learning experience, CES will inform you of available options.

Course Cancellation

If you wish to cancel your registration, please submit a request in writing (via mail, email or fax) no later than 7 business days before the workshop’s start date. After that, there are no refunds or billing adjustments.

In the event that a course is cancelled by the Collaborative for Educational Services, we will notify you as soon as possible. Please be sure to provide your best email address and phone number so we can contact you. Although every effort is made to avoid last minute cancellations, if an emergency arises, we will do our best to reach you at the phone number and email address you provide. 

Inclement Weather

Any delays or cancellations are posted online at collaborative.org. You may also call 413.588.5979 after 6:30am for information about classes that day. Or for Early Childhood Professional Development information, please call 413.588.5570.