Human Rights Lesson Plans
For Grades 6-12
All lesson plans were designed by MSU undergraduate students working as human rights education interns. Each includes a detailed lesson plan and annotated bibliography.
Educators are welcome to download and use the lesson plans in their classes. If you have further questions about reproducing or sharing these lessons, please contact: Dr. Zoë Burkholder firstname.lastname@example.org
Achievement Gap in New Jersey, by Christelle Daceus
Introduce students to the achievement gap between white and black students in the United States. This lesson uses data from the South Orange-Maplewood and Montclair school districts to offer students the opportunity to compare and contrast how two diverse local districts work to address racial inequality in public education. Includes powerpoint.
African Americans in the Media, by Makeba Green
What are some of the ways that American media presents African Americans in a negative light, and how has this changed over time? Explore a range of media including 19th century runaway slave advertisements, Tom and Jerry cartoons, and the HBO hit series Empire. Students will learn how to identify and challenge negative stereotypes about African Americans in popular culture today. Includes links to video clips and archival images.
Black Lives Matter, by Janaya Cooper
What is the Black Lives Matter Movement, where did it come from, and why does it matter today? Explore this exciting movement for social justice with your students from the perspective of a black lives matter student activist. Includes powerpoint and poetry.
Black Lives Matter II, by Quincey Schenck
Who are Black Lives Matter activists, what are they fighting for, and why is social media so important to this movement? Students will learn about the history and development of this social movement and compare it to the black power movement of the late 1960s. Includes video clips, discussion questions, powerpoint, and handout.
Black Lives Matter: Beyond the Hashtag, by Joniesha Hickson
What is the Black Lives Matter Movement, where did is come from and how is the BLM Movement portrayed in the media? Explore this exciting movement for social justice withyour students from the perspective of a black lives matter student activist. Includes video clips and PowerPoint:
- Black Lives Matter: Beyond the Hashtag Lesson Plan
- Black Lives Matter: Beyond the Hashtag Power Point
Child Marriage: A National Crisis, by Deanna Wilks
What is child marriage? How is child marriage a form of abuse against women? Does it really happen in the U.S.? How often? This lesson presents United States laws that enable the continuation of child marriage and analyzes why child marriage represents a gross violation of basic human rights for girls and women in America today. Hear the stories of child marriage victims and learn what we can do to prevent this practice. See the links below for video clip, Power Point and engaging activities.
- Child Marriage: A National Crisis Lesson Plan
- Child Marriage: A National Crisis Power Point
Clean Water Rights, by Gabriella Wilson
Recent crises in Flint, Michigan and Standing Rock, North Dakota have brought the question of clean water rights home to the United States. This lesson asks students to consider why clean water is a basic human right and what role the U.S. government can and should play in ensuring clean water for all citizens. Includes video clips, powerpoint, and news articles.
Gender Wage Gap, by Amanda Fins
What is the gender wage gap and what steps can we take to equalize salaries for men and women? Students will examine the various scholarly interpretations of this phenomenon and define key terms including: feminism, sexism, gender, discrimination, and implicit bias. Includes graphics and powerpoint.
Freedom of Speech in North Korea, and Propaganda, by Christine Yi
How does the North Korean government use propaganda to "brainwash" citizens and how does this relate to the freedom of speech? Students will explore lack of freedom of speech in North Korea and the relationship between freedom of speech, freedom of the press and the American democracy. See the links below for video clips and Power Point.
- Freedom of Speech in North Korea, and Propaganda Lesson Plan
- Freedom of Speech in North Korea, and Propaganda Power Point
Human Trafficking in New Jersey, by Casey Smith
Is human trafficking a problem in New Jersey and if so what should be done about it? This lesson presents the issues with trafficking in New Jersey and the warning signs that someone is being trafficked. The students will explore the current laws that are in place for victims of trafficking and consider what additional reforms are needed. See the links below for Power Point.
- Human Trafficking in New Jersey Lesson Plan
- Human Trafficking in New Jersey Power Point
Islamophobia, by Luca Azzara
What is Islamophobia, how is it perpetuated in American popular culture, and what can students do to fight it? Learn about how harmful stereotypes about Islam can create fear and hostility toward Muslim people. Teach students positive steps to resist and combat negative stereotypes. Includes an introductory lesson on Islam. Includes powerpoint.
LGBTQ, an Introduction, by Erin Webb
What is gender and how is that different from sexuality? Do people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer experience discrimination, and if so, what can we do to help? Guide students through a thoughtful discussion of what schools can do to help protect the civil rights of students, faculty, and families who identify as LGBTQ. Includes links to articles and resources for teaching about LGBTQ equality.
Mass Incarceration and Racial Justice, by James Clark
Why are African American men incarcerated at higher rates than whites, and what can we do to reverse this trend? Students will explore the history of mass incarceration in the United States dating back to slavery, Jim Crow, and the war on drugs. Video clips and music enliven the discussion. Includes prezi slideshow link. https://prezi.com/j0xitbf05qkb/mass-incarceration/
Misperceptions of Hijab, by Renad Suqi
Are Muslim women’s headcoverings a sign of liberation or oppression? Students will learn why some women wear a hijab and why this is considered controversial in some places. Hear directly from Muslim women who struggle to make their voices heard! This lesson is a terrific addition to any contemporary study of Islam. Includes video clips and a Power Point.
Refugees and Healthcare, by Danielle Tourikian
One way to consider the global refugee crisis is to examine how different countries provide health care, a basic human rights, to refugees. This lesson compares health care for Syrian refugees in Turkey and Canada. Students will learn to weigh the costs and benefits of quarantine versus isolation, and the special considerations for refugee health care including language, culture, and religion. Conclude by examining the U.S. policy toward refugee healthcare. Includes news clips and Power Point with maps.
Religious Tolerance in American Public Schools, by Emily Driscoll
What is religious discrimination, who is most susceptible to it, and how can we, as a society, prevent it from happening in our community? Students will learn to acknowledge the positive intentions of the four major religions in the United States, disprove stereotypes, and discuss bullying and preventions. See the links below for video clips and Power Point.
- Religious Tolerance in American Public Schools Lesson Plan
- Religious Tolerance in American Public Schools Power Point
Resegregation of American Schools and Its Implications, by Kiarra Dillard
How have schools become resegregated by race and socioeconomic class and why does it matter today? Students will examine the implications of school resegregation and discuss ways in which to make schools more inclusive as part of the agenda to fulfill the promise of American democracy. See the links below for video clips and PowerPoint.
- Resegregation of American Schools and Its Implications Lesson Plan
- Resegregation of American Schools and Its Implications Power Point
Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights in the United States, by Jennifer Rogers
Sexual and reproductive health care for women is considered a basic human right by the United Nations, but it is viewed as controversial in the United States. This lesson presents women’s health care and reproductive rights as a basic human right, and considers the laws and debates over women’s healthcare in the U.S. Great for high school students and women’s history classes. Includes film suggestions and links to articles.
Syrian Refugee Crisis, by Nasrin Younus
What is the Syrian refugee crisis, why did it happen, and what can we do about it? Explore these current events with the help of maps and photographs as well as a multimedia news clip of Syrian refugees in New Jersey. Perfect for middle school students. Includes powerpoint and multimedia clips.
Transgender Bathroom Rights, by Sabrina Chu
What does “transgender” mean and why are people debating trangender bathroom rights? This informative lesson allows students to understand this current topic in gender equality by examining video clips and engaging in critical discussion. Key terms covered include: sex, gender, orientation, transgender, and cisgender. A great introduction for students to a complex subject. Includes powerpoint.