Social Studies, Civics, History, Journalism

Estimated Time

One 50-minute class period, plus extra class time/homework for extension assignments, if desired

Grade level




What are public records and what can you do with them?

Main Activity

  1. 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.
  2. Using Handout #2, go over the basic process and the problems that exist.
  3. Use Handout #3 specific to your classroom’s interest to begin to contextualize the use of FOIA in a particular subject area.

Extension Activity

  1. 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!