Human Rights Day

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December 10 kicked off a year-long celebration of Human Rights Day and the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Worldwide activities include the official campaign launch in Paris, a United Nations discussion with “Eleanor Roosevelt”, and a Human Rights Award Ceremony in Armenia. All events support the goal of equality, justice, and dignity for all and lead to the 70th-anniversary celebration taking place on December 10, 2018.

Learn more about the specifics of this declaration at the website provided by the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner. In addition to the declaration, this site also includes detailed information about the different components and critical messages found within these principles. The key message for the upcoming year is the campaign for all persons to “Stand up for someone’s rights today.”

The site offers suggestions to get started with a celebration of Human Rights Day through social media and encourages participants to promote, engage, and reflect upon the goals of equality. In addition to images to include with social media posts, viewers also have access to many videos and additional campaign materials.

The Human Rights Day site has quite a bit of information to use in the classroom. Here are some additional websites to explore for ideas about teaching human rights:

  • Teaching Tolerance is a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center sharing information and ideas for students of all ages. The Classroom Resources section includes lessons, tasks, reading materials, and teaching strategies. Be sure to take a look at the free film kits to order or stream online. My favorite portion of this site is the “Build a Learning Plan” section. Use the builder to include the four domains of Social Justice Standards with corresponding grade level standards and build a lesson taking a deep dive into a theme of social injustice.
  • Engage Harry Potter fans into student activism through the Harry Potter Alliance. Inspired by Dumbledore’s Army in the book series, the goal of this organization is to mobilize youth to support charitable causes, literacy, and human rights. Local chapters bring like-minded individuals together to take action and inspire campaigns to help their communities.
  • Wide Angle: Window into Global History is another site providing videos and lessons exploring the big picture of global issues. This is an excellent site to share with older students as a starting point for learning about human rights issues in other countries.
  • The Advocates for Human Rights provides lessons and curriculum for grades K-12. View lessons sorted by grade level bands to find a wide assortment of activities and topics teaching human rights through awareness of self, community, and social responsibility.

Consider these ideas to celebrate Human Rights Day in your classroom:

Use #standup4humanrights during your discussions on Twitter. This is the official hashtag for the anniversary celebration of UDHR.

  • Share student recordings of reading the Human Rights Day pledge
  • Share student discussions of a time when they stood up for another person being bullied at school
  • Have older students lobby local officials using their Twitter handle to encourage passage of human-rights friendly laws

Schedule speakers to come to your classroom for human rights discussions:     Ask someone from another country to share their story of human rights issues.

  • Invite a local lawmaker to share how the lawmaking process encourages the protection of all human rights
  • Ask a local news reporter into your class to share stories of local human rights issues
  • Bring in a volunteer coordinator to discuss volunteering opportunities

As students learn about the value of human rights and about those whose rights have been violated, they learn how to respect not only themselves but others around them. This understanding provides tools to encourage them with the knowledge and skills to become productive and caring citizens of the world.

Do you celebrate Human Rights Day? Share your ideas in the comments below.

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About the author: Sharon Hall

Sharon Hall was a recipient of the Presidential Award of Excellence in Math teaching. With over 15 years of classroom experience as a National Board Certified teacher, Sharon shares her content knowledge and reflections on ideas for basic classroom technology integration with us.


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