Social Studies, Civics, History, Journalism
One 50-minute class period, plus extra class time/homework for extension assignments, if desired
- Handout #1: Open Data, Public Records, and You
- Handout #2: How to File a FOIA: The Elements of a Request and What to Expect
- Handout #3: Subject-Specific Supplement
- Handout #4: An Introduction to Using MuckRock
- Computer and internet access
What are public records and what can you do with them?
- Empower students to participate in their civic environments.
- Introduce students to the Freedom of Information Act and similar laws.
- Encourage thinking about the intersection of government and daily life.
- Expose students to research resources.
- Apply the lessons learned to further inquiry.
- Using Handout #1, introduce students to the basic context of public records. Discuss ways in which the government interacts with the world around them and the places where public records are created.
- Using Handout #2, go over the basic process and the problems that exist.
- Use Handout #3 specific to your classroom’s interest to begin to contextualize the use of FOIA in a particular subject area.
- Brainstorm additional questions students have. Consider document types that may be generated in your area around the subject. Consult Handout #4 to find requests already submitted locally and explore other previously-filed requests. Then, begin submitting your own!