By Rafael Pérez-Segura
Objectives and Intended Outcomes
This lesson plan is aimed at Middle School aged children. Its goal is to first and foremost introduce the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNUDHR) to the target audience. The target audience should be able to connect the UNUDHR to their daily lives and also learn a little about a specific human rights issue that involves the articles of the UNUDHR. Students come out with an increased awareness of their own rights and the rights of others.
Begin with an overview of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Culture of Peace (COP) initiative. (10 min.)
- The UN General Assembly defines COP as, “Values, attitudes and behaviors that reject violence and endeavor to prevent conflicts by addressing their root causes with a view to solving problems through dialogue and negotiation among individuals, groups and nations.”
- Consists of holding the door for somebody else, random acts of kindness, etc.
• Ask what have the students done recently that would promote COP?
- End by encouraging students to continue striving for COP
“Freeze” Game (10 min.)
- Pass out note cards each with an easy to understand paraphrased version of each article of the UNUDHR
- Instruct each student to quickly read over and make sure he/she understands the concept of their article.
- Now, explain the game to the class. The idea is to play a video on a human rights related subject (in this case one on Romani Children in Slovakia, which can be found at the link here) and have the students say “freeze” whenever he/she believes that their article somehow applies, be it that it’s violated or that it’s being protected. The facilitator then freezes the video to have the student explain their rationale. When everybody is done sharing, continue with the video. You probably won’t finish all the video and freezing in 10 minutes, the idea is to get the students engaged. If some articles seem to apply more than others, mix up the cards to give other students a chance to speak.
“Pair and Share” (10 min.)
- Have students break up into smaller groups and talk to each other about their articles and how it affects their daily lives. Try to have other facilitators sit with each group. (5 min.)
- Have the students come back into a bigger group and talk about the same thing.
Wrap-up (10 min.)
- Briefly review what you did in class and do a final round of questions on why human rights matter and who has human rights.
- 30 note cards, one for each article of the UNUDHR
- Projector, TV, anything needed to show a video.
- Really stick to a maximum of 10 minutes for each segment. Otherwise, the students get bored and it takes longer to transition between activities
- Ask a lot of questions concerning how the students view their rights and if any of their rights have been violated.
- Make sure to not change the meaning of an article when paraphrasing, word choice is very important.
- When paraphrasing, don’t be afraid to be informal. Article 24 states, “Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.” I rewrote this to say “We all have the right to chill out.”
- When paraphrasing, use “We” as much as you can, as the idea of COP is to go from a “me” to “we” mentality.
- In general, middle school age students are very receptive and eager to share their thoughts on human rights and what’s right and wrong. Definitely leave space for discussion if the students ease into that, even if that means sacrificing time for a later activity.