of the Individual
One way to keep the ideals of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights alive and to promote their importance is
to integrate them into education. Language teachers can create many
different content-based lessons around the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights, the Bill of Rights, and the concepts underlying these
declarations. One possible 50-minute lesson is described here.
Preliminary Lesson Planning
Materials: Create two sets
of handouts, with four different versions of each. Each handout in the
first set should include five provocative statements, each one related
in some way to at least one of the articles in the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights (UDHR). The goal is to include statements that are likely
to stimulate meaningful and extended discussion among students. The
four sample handouts in Appendix B (Handout
#1, versions A, B, C, D) could easily be adapted for different student
populations by (a) changing the emphasis of the statements in response
to student interests and/or issues of current relevance in ones
country and (b) adjusting the language used (so that the statements
are more or less complex) in response to students language proficiency
and language needs. (The UDHR articles tied to each
statement in these sample handouts are listed in Appendix
The second set of handouts
(Handout #2, versions A, B, C,
D, in Appendix C) requires students to match UDHR articles with
statements made on Handout #1. These handouts, like the first set, can
be adapted for different student populations. For more advanced students,
teachers might want to include the original UDHR articles; for less
proficient students, even more simplified versions could be included.
Student grouping decisions:
Decide on procedures for grouping students for Activities #1 and #2.
If appropriate, make up tentative lists of group members for each activity.
It is recommended that groups have no more than six participants each.
Make last minute adjustments when it is determined which students are
actually in class.
Consider the vocabulary that students need to know to complete the lesson
successfully. Determine which vocabulary items the students already
know and which items theyll need to be introduced to. Some important
terms, and their definitions, are included in a glossary
in Appendix A.
Warm Up Activity (approximately 5 minutes)
To stimulate student interest in
the topic of individual rights
To tap students background
To introduce vocabulary that will
facilitate successful completion of the lesson
Declaration of Human Rights" on the blackboard.
Ask students what the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights is. Put key words from students
responses on the blackboard. If students are unfamiliar with the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, be prepared to provide students
with relevant background information, adding words to the blackboard
as you introduce key ideas.
Underline the word
"Rights" on the blackboard. Ask students what "rights"
might be included in the declaration. Add key words and concepts
to the blackboard.
(Do not erase the blackboard. Come back to it at the end of the
lesson as a way to provide meaningful closure to the lesson.)
Transition from Warm Up to Activity
Tell students that the class
session will be devoted to exploring aspects of the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights.
#1 (approximately 25 minutes)
Divide students into
four groups (A, B, C, D) in the quickest way possible. The number
of groups that you actually have will depend largely on the size
of your class. For example, with a small class, all students in
group A can sit together. With a large class, you can create multiple
A groups, multiple B groups, multiple C groups, and multiple D groups.
Distribute Handout #1;
give appropriate version of the handout (A, B, C, or D) to each
Working alone, students
should read each statement on their handout and indicate with a
whether they strongly agree (SA), agree (A), are uncertain (U),
disagree (D), or strongly disagree (SD) with the statement. If students
have never engaged in an exercise like this, put an example sentence
on the blackboard to model the process in front of the entire class.
Ask students to be ready to explain the reason for their responses
to classmates. While students are working individually, circulate
among them to make sure they understand all important vocabulary
and the task at hand.
Ask students to be ready
to explain the reason for their responses to classmates. While students
are working individually, circulate among them to make sure they
understand all important vocabulary and the task at hand.
Ask students to discuss
their responses with members of their group (A, B, C, or D). Ask
students to do the following (if necessary, write instructions on
a. Compare your responses with group members.
b. Explain your reason for each
c. Ask group members questions if you do not understand their reasons.
While students are working in
groups, circulate around the classroom. Make sure students stay
on task. Answer questions and/or provide clarification when needed.
#2; give appropriate version (A, B, C, or D) to each group.
Ask students to do the following:
a. Match each situation on Handout #1
to the appropriate Universal Declaration of Human Rights article(s).
While students are
working together, circulate and provide them with feedback on
their responses, referring to the Answer Key (in Appendix
D) for reference. Point out key words which might help them
with the matching exercise.
Ask groups to identify
the situation and UDHR article which caused the most discussion
(or controversy, debate, interest) among them. Tell students to
be prepared to explain group selection (and reasons for the selection)
to other students in class.
Activity #2 (approximately
To provide students
with opportunities to use English in a meaningful way
To reinforce key vocabulary
and concepts associated with the theme of the lesson
To give students the
opportunity to be successful in English by asking them to report
information discussed earlier with other classmates
Create new student groups--ideally
with at least one representative from original groups A, B, C, and
D--in the fastest way possible.
Ask students to do the
following in their new groups:
a. Identify the situation
and Universal Declaration of Human Rights article which caused the
most discussion (controversy, debate, interest) in original group.
b. Explain diverse opinions
c. Answer questions from
new group members.
Cool Down Activity (approximately
Look back at blackboard.
Ask students the following questions:
a. What words can we add
to the blackboard to create a more complete picture of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights? Add students responses to the blackboard.
b. Which concepts are most controversial? (Circle students responses.)
c. Which concepts are most interesting? (Box students responses.)
d. Which concepts are most important? (Put a star next to students
e. Why are they important?
Possible Extensions to Lesson
Ask students any of
these questions to extend the lesson.
a. Which UDHR articles do you find most interesting? Most important?
Least important? Why?
b. Are universal standards, such as those listed in the UDHR, possible
in todays world? Why? Why not?
c. Do you think the United Nations should enforce the UDHR? Why?
d. What would society be like if everyone followed the UDHR?
e. Why do you think so many nations have not
been able to live up to the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights?
Remind students that
the UDHR was written in 1948, in response to the events of World
War II and the global depression of the 1930s. Ask students to consider
these two questions: Which UDHR articles, if any, are no longer
needed today? What new articles need to be added to the Declaration
to respond to todays life and world situation?
Ask groups of students
to select one article of the UDHR that they feel is important. Give
groups time to plan a presentation about the UDHR article that theyve
selected, in the form of a poster, skit, song, poem, or essay. While
students make their presentations, their classmates should be asked
to guess which UDHR article the group is highlighting. [See
Ask students to work
in groups to draft a "Declaration of Individual Rights for
the 21st Century." Students should be prepared to defend and
provide a rationale for their choices. Have students compare their
drafts and generate a final "Class Declaration of Individual
Refer to the websites listed in the next section of this chapter for
more information and lesson planning ideas.
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