In a new English Language Arts project at Colonial Middle School, eighth-grade students recognized the United Nation’s International Day of Peace by studying the U.N.’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The students reflected on each right and added their thoughts and opinions on large displays in the hallway. Later, they created poems and illustrations that will be compiled into a book to be housed in the school library and talked about what right spoke most to them.

The idea some people are left out when it comes to human rights is a recurring theme in 8th Grade English Language Arts, where the students will read Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave and The Diary of Anne Frank. The Human Rights project will help provide the students with a framework they can use throughout the year to describe and explain what they read. “The curriculum and all the texts lend themselves really nicely to students analyzing how throughout history there has been so much struggle, so much oppression [and] discrimination,” explained Mrs. Carissa Eberle, the English Language Arts teacher on the 8th Grade Orange Team who developed the Human Rights project. “The kids really do attach on to these ideas and feel empathy for them.” The human rights project shows connections between Social Studies and English Language Arts and is an example of interdisciplinary learning, where concepts within the lesson come from more than one subject area. Interdisciplinary learning helps students become more flexible thinkers and is one way that teachers bring STEAM into the classroom.

Article courtesy of PSEA, Mideastern Region January Newsletter