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High School Lesson Plan: Global Human Rights

written by: Linda M. Rhinehart Neas • edited by: Wendy Finn • updated: 7/12/2012

Learning about human rights allows students to look beyond their own lives into the lives of others. The study of human rights brings an understanding for the common needs of all people. Through this understanding, students develop a clearer view of being a global citizen.

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    Going Global


    When students reach high school, there is a need to assist them in stepping out of their egocentric realm in order for them to experience the world around them. A unit on global human rights catapults this experience in a way that other social studies units do not.

    To prepare for teaching global human rights, go to the United Nations website. At the website, the following documents can be downloaded:

    • Declaration of Human Rights
    • The Convention of the Rights of the Child

    In addition, is another document that can be used in the study of human rights.

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    Lesson Plan

    Objective: to give students an overview of human rights, enable them to gather information, process meaning, analyze issues, and present/implement solutions by developing and facilitating a Global Human Rights Day in their school.

    Prior Knowledge: From preschool on, students have been expected to live by the Golden Rule. However, there is a daily onslaught of news that shows students that this does not happen outside of their homes and/or classrooms.

    Mindmap with the class what they believe are the basic human rights. The list should include the right to live and work; the right to religion of one's own choice; the right to own property; the right to speak freely; the right to legal representation, etc.

    Ask for examples of these rights being oppressed in the past or presently.



    In small groups, have students research a human rights violation. (Click here for a list with resources.) Have them write a report after researching their chosen violation on the web, giving details of the violation and showing which right(s) it violates. Ask them to discuss who has the power in the situation and who the victims are. Remind them that while researching, they need to ask themselves "wh" questions.

    Have students them brainstorm possible ways to bring awareness of the violation to the public, as well as form a course of action that will bring a solution to the problem grounded in solid critical thinking.

    Have the class create a Global Human Rights Day presentation. Each group will be responsible for creating a display, making handouts with information bulleting what the violation is, why it is harmful, who are the targets of this oppression, where it occurs, and how things can change. Students may choose to present a specific organization that is already working to meet the needs of those oppressed by human rights violations, such as UNESCO or

    Finally, have student write a reflective paper on what they have discovered, the effectiveness of their presentation, how they felt about the experience, and what impact it will have on their lives.


    Students will be assessed on their written reports and reflection paper, their participation as a group/team, their presentation and their ability to discuss coherently with others their views on the subject of global human rights.

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    Creating a Better World

    Global human rights lesson plans are essential to high school social studies. When high school students are given the opportunity to learn about and comprehend global human rights, they are better able to develop a solid foundation of understanding as global citizens, thereby enabling them to make their world a better place.

    Photo Credits:

    UN statement & Mandala quote - Author

    Speak up logo: UN Human Rights