Dear Educator:

The lesson plans offered here are designed to help you use the Ralph Bunche: An American Odyssey video and this companion Web site in secondary social studies, civics, and language arts classes. Ralph Bunche: An American Odyssey can be purchased through William Greaves Productions. For information about ordering the video, click here.

  • The Making of a Leader

  • In this lesson, students will examine the factors that allowed Ralph Bunche, growing up as an African American in the early twentieth century, to overcome obstacles of economics and race, develop his ideas on peace and justice and become a top scholar and world leader. Students will demonstrate what they have learned through a variety of projects ranging from poetry and writing to art, music, speaking, and technology.

  • Negotiating and Resolving Conflict

  • Students will work in small groups to participate in brainstorming and fact-finding activities to introduce them to the concept of negotiation and compromise. They will learn negotiation and problem-solving strategies and techniques, practice using these skills to resolve problems that relate to them directly and indirectly.

  • Debating the Issues

  • Using quotations from Bunche, information from the film, research and group discussion, students will develop ideas about topics for discussion. Students will then participate in a classroom debate/discussion of the issues they have selected. As a closing activity, students will write about any new conclusions they may have arrived at about Bunche and the issues under discussion.

  • Human and Civil Rights

  • This lesson examines the concept of rights through discussion of the relationship between rights and responsibilities, the evolving definitions of rights, and the ways in which different societies and leaders, including Bunche, believe human and civil rights violations should be addressed.

  • Decolonization and Self-Determination

  • Students will learn about the history of European colonization and Bunche's involvement in the decolonization movement of the mid-twentieth century. The lesson will include researching a current United Nations decolonization initiative and explaining what Bunche might have recommended be done about the matter.

  • Model United Nations Activity
    In this activity, students will conduct a "model United Nations General Assembly" session. The activity is designed to acquaint students with issues in international relations and the structure, aims and procedures used by the United Nations to resolve disputes between nations. Students will learn about the early history of the United Nations by examining the contributions made by Ralph Bunche to the organization during the first 25 years of its existence.

Teacher Biographies

Lisa Prososki (Lessons One, Two and Three) is an award-winning teacher who instructed students in Communication Arts, Social Studies, and Technology for 12 years. She was named Teacher of the Year by her school district in 1995. She was also named Technology Teacher of the Year for the state of Missouri in 1996. Prososki has been a presenter at local, state, and national meetings in topics such as teaming, interdisciplinary teaching, developing technology and integrated lesson plans, meeting the needs of exceptional children, and other related topics. Lisa is now enjoying a career as a full-time mother and runs a consulting business from her home.

Betsy Hedberg (Lessons Four and Five) is a teacher and freelance curriculum writer who has published lesson plans and student activities in a variety of subjects. She received her Secondary Teaching Credential in Social Studies from Loyola Marymount University and her Master of Arts in Geography from UCLA. In addition to curriculum writing, she has developed Web sites and assisted teachers in incorporating the Internet and other technologies into their classrooms. In 1997, she founded Curriculum Adventures, a curriculum development, publishing, and consulting company. Publications include The Web-Savvy Student: Activities to Make Students THINK About the Internet and Geography Online: Internet Student Activities.

Michael Hutchison
(Lesson 6) is a social studies teacher at Lincoln High School in Vincennes, Indiana. A 22-year teaching veteran, he has been recognized nationally for his use of classroom technology and cable television in the classroom. In 1996 and 1997 he was named national winner of Rifkin and Associates 21st Century Teacher competition, and in 1998, he was a first place winner in the Compaq Teacher Lesson Plan contest. In 1999, he was named "Teacher of the Year" (Central US region) by Technology and Learning magazine. He also is a member of the PBS TeacherSource Advisory Group.

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