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America Responds
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Grieving man
Rescue workers
President and Mrs. Bush
Classroom Resources

A World At Peace
Grade Level: Elementary (2-6)
Estimated Time: Three one-hour sessions

Lesson Overview:
Invite students to brainstorm the basic rights of people everywhere, explore in basic terms the United Nation's Declaration of Human Rights and UNICEF's Committee on the Rights of the Child, and then use international photography galleries as part of a multimedia creative writing assignment imagining a world at peace.

Related National Standards from McREL:

  • Knows examples of world conflict or cooperation (e.g., countries in trade pacts, areas of the world with refugee problems)
  • Knows how and why people compete for control of Earth's surface (e.g., ethnic or national differences, desire for political control, economic inequalities)
  • Understands factors that contribute to cooperation or conflict within and between regions and countries
  • Understands efforts to improve political and social conditions around the world
  • Knows ways in which conflicts about diversity can be resolved in a peaceful manner that respects individual rights and promotes the common good

Materials:

  • Computer(s) with Internet connection
  • PowerPoint, HyperStudio, or other multimedia software program (optional)
  • Art supplies

Procedure:

  1. Begin by asking students about the Bill of Rights. What is it? When was it created? Why was it written? See if students can brainstorm some of the ideas presented in the Bill of Rights.

  2. Ask students if they think these rights should apply to people everywhere, no matter where they live. What rights should be "universal" and apply to people in all nations?

  3. Begin by asking students about the basic rights of children. "Kids everywhere deserve..." might be a good way to start. To prompt discussion, you may want to visit the online bulletin board at the PBS "Not For Ourselves Alone" Web site, where children submitted ideas for a Kid's Bill of Rights. How important are these ideas? Do they apply to kids everywhere?

  4. See what international organizations like the United Nations and UNICEF have to say about this subject. (You may want to provide a brief introduction to the two organizations to help students contextualize this information.) Visit the UN's Human Rights in Action interactive exhibit. There, students may access a multimedia display built around the UN's Declaration of Human Rights. (Note: in addition to "plain language" versions of each article in the Declaration, this exhibit offers activity ideas built around each article, so this may be expanded into a longer curricular unit if you wish.) UNICEF's Committee on the Rights of the Child site offers useful information that you may paraphrase for younger children.

  5. Call to the class's attention those statements related to safety, security, and world peace. How important do these ideas seem in the UN and UNICEF declarations? How often were they mentioned in class discussion? What do students think--is life in a peaceful neighborhood a "right" that we should try to ensure for every person?

  6. Ask students to imagine what a world at peace might be like. To help them imagine this, have them visit the United Nations "Pictures of Peace" exhibit. There, students will see drawings by other kids from around the world and a collaborative poem created by children from 38 countries in 1997.

  7. Use online photography galleries (or have students create their own artwork) as part of an original multimedia composition about world peace. Each student (or groups of students) should write a poem or short essay about the world at peace and choose artwork that complements their writings. Online photography galleries you might visit include: Use multimedia software like PowerPoint or HyperStudio to create student compositions, or create paper-based artwork to display at home or at school.

  8. Finally, discuss why people commit acts of violence like the ones that occurred on September 11, 2001. What might make individuals, groups, or nations commit such violent acts? To have a World At Peace, how can we prevent conflict--at home, at school, in our communities, and around the world? Brainstorm ideas to share with families and local officials.

  9. As an extension, you may want to explore the United Nations "Preventing Conflict" curriculum, which includes international progress reports, case studies, activities, and recommended resources.

Assessment:
Student understanding should be assessed through:

  • contribution to class discussion
  • successful completion of multimedia composition on world peace
  • comprehension questions and related activities connected to the UN Declaration of Human Rights and other documents used during this lesson.

PBS Primetime Coverage
PBS provided nightly coverage and analysis of the terrorist attacks on the United States with "America Responds."


Key PBS Resources:

Online NewsHour
Ongoing coverage and analysis.

Mister Rogers' Neighborhood
Helping children cope.