Connecticut Core Standards

Grades 9-10: Primary Source Exemplar- Human Rights, Conflict and Social Change

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Common Core Standards

Reading Informational Text

RI.9-10.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

RI.9-10.2 Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.

RI.9-10.3 Analyze how the author unfolds an analysis or series of ideas or events, including the order in which the points are made, how they are introduced and developed, and the connections that are drawn between them.

RI.9-10.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language of a court opinion differs from that of a newspaper).

RI.9-10.6 Determine an author's point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how an author uses rhetoric to advance that point of view or purpose.

RI.9-10.8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning.

RI.9-10.9 Analyze seminal U.S. documents of historical and literary significance (e.g., Washington's Farewell Address, the Gettysburg Address, Roosevelt's Four Freedoms speech, King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail"), including how they address related themes and concepts.


L.9-10.4 Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grades 9-10 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.

Speaking and Listening

SL.9-10.3 Evaluate a speaker's point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric, identifying any fallacious reasoning or exaggerated or distorted evidence.


W.9-10.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

Description of Unit

This Grades 9-10 unit titled, "Primary Source Exemplar: Human Rights, Conflict and Social Change” by Catherine Hart and cited on americaachieves.org is comprised of four lessons of undetermined length. In this unit, students use seminal historical documents (UDHR and “Adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Speech”) and literary nonfiction (Nelson Mandela’s “Speech to the United Nations Special Committee Against Apartheid”) to explore the topic of human rights and the issues surrounding human rights violations. The core activities of the unit focus students’ attention on reading complex text closely. Students are required to: examine structural features, define vocabulary, annotate, participate in discussions grounded in the text, and draw conclusions based on evidence from the text. They use a primary source document worksheet to guide their analysis of the text. The final performance task requires students to write a formal argumentative speech based on evidence from independent research regarding a current human rights violation.


Connecticut teachers should be aware that teacher notes and preparation materials will require familiarity to be used effectively, especially in regard to pacing of instruction and the materials/activities used to best fit the needs of all students. Background knowledge and prerequisite skills are noted. This unit is intended to be taught in collaboration with a history teacher. Although it can stand alone as an ELA unit, if it is taught without the aid of a history teacher, the ELA teacher may need to supplement with additional texts to provide historical background and context for both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and apartheid. While a link to EQuIP rubrics is provided, an aligned rubric to score the final assessment to measure individual student performance on the targeted standards will need to be created. Some links listed in the unit plan are broken. If the title of the resource is entered in the search box on the website, a new link for the document is often provided. The video on Human Rights from the United Nations cited in the unit plan contains strong examples of violations of human rights; teacher discretion is advised. If social studies teachers use this unit in their classrooms, they will need to change the standards listed above to the appropriate grade-level content band in the Grades 6-12 Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, & Technical Subjects Standards. It is also suggested that social studies teachers add standards from the Connecticut Elementary and Secondary Social Studies Frameworks. For direct links to these sources see below.

Grades 6-12 Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, & Technical Subjects Standards

CT Elementary and Secondary Social Studies Frameworks

Rationale for Selection

The unit is a good example of a progression of learning that integrates reading, writing, speaking and listening so that students apply and synthesize advancing literacy skills. Instruction focuses on challenging sections of text(s) and engages students in a productive struggle through discussion questions and other supports that build toward independence. Each lesson integrates specific support to address academic vocabulary. Throughout the unit, suggestions are provided for reaching all learners: guiding questions, primary source resources, audio recording of the texts, suggestions for chunking the texts, simplified versions of the Articles, guided questions, and graphic organizers, as well as support that might be necessary if the unit is not taught collaboratively with a history class. All materials needed for the unit are available through links embedded in the curriculum.