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Developing Rights

Teaching Rights and Responsibilites for Ages 11-14

Secondary, Elementary, Middle


Developing Rights seeks to assist young students in examining human rights, first in their own lives, and then by making extensions into other social contexts found worldwide. Some of the issues include bullying, violence and disability.

Six separate units are linked to different rights issues, and include activities and worksheets, making curriculum links to several subject areas of UK middle level education. There would be little difficulty in linking units to N. American educational settings. Readings and assessment "grids" are provided for each unit as well as step-by-step instructions for teachers. The final unit suggests "actions for change."

Concrete material is offered for staff training in the area of rights issues. The material includes readings, role play scenarios and other activities related to the issues.

The book is attractively packaged containing abundant photographs and an easy-to-follow layout of readings, activities and evaluation worksheets.


General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Young students are explicitly taught about their own rights both as children and as human beings. They are exposed to real life situations of other children in the world and their lack of human rights. Consensus-building by students is a large part of the activity in this resource.


  • The resource is attractive and well laid-out, making its use inviting; it truly lives up to its billing as a handbook.
  • Efforts are made to establish a sense of connection with personal rights issues on behalf of students before moving on to problems of other cultures; this is an authentic way to engage students in the material and also avoids "sensationalizing" the sometime difficult stories of children in many parts of the world.
  • A unique feature of the resource is the opportunity for teachers to provide for a day of professional development to learn the material, which is provided, and to develop role plays and other activities.


  • Please see the enhancements question (below).
  • More attention could be paid to different ability levels, with specific information on how to proceed.
  • There is some glossing over of material that requires more in-depth attention. For example, under "What to do" (pg. 13) in the introductory unit, the following paragraph appears:
    "Point out that each group on Earth has sent their agreed list of rights for pupils to compare with their own and comment on. They have also supplied some information about their backgrounds on Earth. The groups come from South Africa, Ethiopia, and Lebanon. Now divide the class into small groups. Ask each group to write down what they would expect children from these countries to have in their rights lists. (It may be helpful to preface this by collecting brief ideas about what those countries are like)."
    This is far too facile and seemingly counterproductive to the effort to establish personal affinity with the problems of children in these countries.
  • One small quibble is with the graphics used on the cover and throughout the text. The image of a chain caused some confusion as to its intention--does it refer to liberation? Does it refer to making links with others? It has a slight connotation of slavery. Perhaps the graphic could be strengthened or explained/used in the literature to enhance and to clarify its meaning.

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

Themes Addressed

  • Economics (1)

    • Poverty Reduction
  • Human Health & Environment (3)

    • Access to Health Care
    • Hunger and Malnutrition
    • Quality of Life
  • Human Rights (5)

    • Cultural Diversity
    • Education
    • Gender Equality
    • Poverty
    • Social Justice

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Very Good
  • While the resource is definitely geared towards an understanding of human rights issues, there are opportunities for students to entertain various points of view.
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Good
  • There is an acknowledgement of the multiple dimensions of problems and solutions, although these are not deliberately addressed.
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Very Good
  • The resource illustrates solid consideration on the complexity of the issues and provides some support for understanding such complexity.
Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Very Good
  • The last unit is entirely devoted to action experiences.
Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Good
  • In constructing models of human rights hierarchies, students are given free range to develop ideas based on their own beliefs and values.
Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Very Good
  • The various rights issues encompass a wide range of human groups.
Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Poor/Not considered
  • These are not addressed in the resource.
Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Very Good
  • The resource is clear on the starting point for understanding human rights issues in a global context: the situation of the students themselves.
Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Good
  • Case studies focus on histories though students are encouraged to carry their thinking and discussion beyond these circumstances.
Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Very Good
  • Students are allowed to develop their own responses to questions.
Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Good
  • Curriculum links, including some outcomes, are provided. Further work in this area could include adding link to more subjects, e.g. visual art, social studies, economics, etc.
Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Very Good
  • The units are designed in a progressive learning style.
Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.


Differentiated Instruction Good
  • This area of concern is at least acknowledged by the resource, if not strictly adhered to. The resource claims usability for even non-readers, but clearly, reading and writing ability is important in understanding the material.
  • Also, because the resource is meant specifically for students from ages 11-14, it can be used in (N. American) grade levels 6-9. This is a large range; perhaps some of the material could be indicated as more or less age appropriate.
Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Very Good
  • The resource makes it very clear that until the student's own issues are addressed, it will be useless to attempt extrapolating the lessons into another culture.
Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Good
  • Cooperative learning skills make up an important part of the success of this resource. It would be helpful to place more attention here (more on this in assessment).
Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Good
  • Students are invited to take ownership of much of the activity. As well, there is a self-assessment worksheet available for each unit. It is not clear how these will contribute to a marking scheme but that may not be within the scope of the authors.
Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Good
Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Very Good
Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Satisfactory
  • Most of the content will be addressed through group and class discussions, and as such, a great deal of consensus-building is required. There is less opportunity for personal reflection and response but this could be addressed by including more subjects and their expected outcomes in the resource.
Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.