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Human Rights



(Taught in the middle of first semester.)The goal is to learn basics about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations. There are two and a half to three days of 90-minute block lessons.What are Human Rights? What is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Can it prevent war? How or why not?


  1. In my classroom I have a writing prompt, 'Daily Reflection', on the board each day before the class starts, students are to begin work on it as soon as they arrive. It serves as a free write opportunity and as a review and preview question and as a procedural way to get started on time. It is almost always in the form of a question or several questions. There is no right or wrong answer. I would like to review the reflections each night, but in reality it is a little less frequently. When I do review them I award 20 points if it strikes me as thoughtful and complete (at least 5 sentences.) Throughout the lessons I ask students to share their responses to these prompts and I use my nightly review of them to feed discussion and illustrate points. For this lesson I used two questions. One reviewed our French Revolution unit weŻd just completed and one previewed the Universal Declaration. (For example, What do you know about Human Rights? What rights did the Declaration of the Rights of Man discuss? Do women have rights today?)
  2. I distributed a letter sized manila folder to each student. These became the 'Human Rights' folder (HR folder) for each student for each of the segments of the unit. (When this week of lessons is completed, collect and store the folders and the materials stored in the folders.) The students should decorate and label the folder with "Human Rights" and their name.
  3. While students personalized their folders I reviewed and previewed some information about the UDHR. In particular I tried to draw in the Essential Question by explaining the birth of the UDHR: After World War II and the Nuremberg Trials, governments committed themselves to establishing the UN with the primary goal of bolstering international peace and preventing conflict. To advance this goal the UN established a Commission on Human Rights which in its preamble asserts: Recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. (this is taken directly from the reading for the next segment, A Short History of Human Rights, pages 6-7, Human Rights Fundamentals.) This whole quote should be posted on the wall so the class can refer to it throughout the year to evaluate the strength and success of this premise; can protection of Human Rights prevent war?
  4. Distribute a copy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) to each student. These should stay in the classroom in the HR folders.
  5. As a preview to watching the video by Amnesty International (several artists commissioned to illustrate the 30 Articles of the UDHR) have the students review their copy of the UDHR and pick three Articles they think are important to them and translate the three Articles into their own words. Tell them they will be viewing a film which illustrates each of the Articles of the UDHR and to watch for the Articles they chose and critique the artist's presentation of the Article.
  6. Homework is to review the list of 'Headlines', a number of true headlines reporting acts which violate or protect human rights around the world and collected by Amnesty International (attached.) Students pick three headlines and write three sentences explaining their opinion on whether the human rights issue effects intra-national conflict and two sentences explaining how the student would illustrate the headline to teach other students about the issue.


Essential Question
Lesson Plan
Day One
Day Two
Second Segment
 Day One
 Day Two
Day Three
Mock Sessions of the UN
Support Structures
Teacher Commentary

Urban Dreams
OUSD Curriculum Unit
Human Rights and the United Nations

Subject: World Cultures
Grade Level: 10th
Lesson Plan Author:
Patricia Arabia