by Mike Gleason, Westerly High School, RI

This past semester I used the Choices Program Competing Visions of Human Rights: Questions for U.S. Policy unit in my World Affairs class. This unit on its own is outstanding, especially the section on the history of human rights.  Another noteworthy activity is having the students define human rights and brainstorm a list of natural rights inherent to all humans. This led to much thought-provoking conversation among the students.

As part of the unit I used the teacher modules and short video clips from the PBS Documentary “Half the Sky“. This traces women’s oppression around the globe and was absolutely fascinating viewing for the students. The website for the documentary includes a viewing guide and lesson plans.  This documentary created student interest in the topic and when we role-played the options for the Choices unit, the students made reference of and connections to the documentary.  Using these two resources together strengthened the Choices unit and made it more “real” for the students.  They had a visual to the suffering and plight of women around the globe and then connected it to the U.S. role in regards to human rights policy.  At the end of the unit, students’ comments on the impact this unit had on them confirmed my observation that using these two resources together deepens the learning.