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The Human Face of Human Rights

School: Casco Bay High School

City/State: Portland, ME

Grade(s): 10

Format(s): Interview(s), Photography

Subject(s): English Language Arts, Visual Arts

Project Overview

Tenth-grade students at Casco Bay High School in Portland, Maine interviewed international refugees from human rights abuses and considered their courage and stories in writing and photography. The guiding question was “How should society identify and treat the “other”?” The expedition was launched with a case study of the atrocities of Rwanda and followed with an exploration of world wars, the formation of the United Nations, and the concept of human rights versus civil rights. Since Portland is a refugee resettlement city, students were able to work with people from a variety of nations. Some of the students in the class, who are from African nations, acted as both interviewers and subjects of the documentaries they created.

Each student wrote a full Oral History of their subject and each team produced a portfolio of images. A series of beautiful, moving displays of image and text were featured in a local gallery in downtown Portland where students and gallery staff hosted an evening gallery opening. A professional invitation postcard was created and the community was invited to view the work and hear a selection of student readings. 

How This Project Can Be Useful

  • Excellent model of students applying learning to their own community
  • Demonstrates a thorough process of preparation for interviews and photographs
  • Touches directly on students' personal experiences and helps build relationships between students and the community

Relevant Resources

Common Core State Standards

Standard Long Term Learning Target
  • I can write narrative texts about real or imagined experiences using well-chosen details and effective event sequences.
  • I can produce clear and coherent writing appropriate to task, purpose and audience.
  • I can synthesize multiple sources on a subject.
  • I can present information clearly, concisely and logically for the appropriate purpose, audience and task.
  • I can adapt my speech for a variety of contexts and tasks, using formal English when indicated or appropriate.

Additional Standards

  • CCSS ELA College and Career Ready skill stated as: “They come to understand other perspectives and cultures.”
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