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Student Expedition Focus is Human Rights

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Student Expedition Focus is Human Rights
Posted on 03/07/2019
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Presumpscot Elementary School fifth-graders in teachers Heidi Nichols’ and Stevi-Lynn Nichols' class recently completed a learning expedition engaging students in a comprehensive study of Human Rights.

Their journey began with a close reading of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. Students learned about the United Nations, as well as historical events that led to the creation of this important international document. With this background knowledge, they next read Pam Muñoz Ryan’s novel, “Esperanza Rising,” based on the real life experiences of the author’s grandmother who emigrated from Mexico to the United States in the 1930s. Students drew connections to the Declaration throughout their reading of the novel. A key learning was the understanding that immigrants often must re-locate to protect their own human rights.

Karen Fox, an immigration law attorney, gave a presention to students on immigration law, and the important work she does in the Portland community to help immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers to protect their rights once they are living in the United States.  And on Dec. 10, Human Rights Day and the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, parents, family members, neighbors, teachers and Portland Superintendent Xavier Botana, who came to this country from Cuba when he was a boy, were invited to the school to share their experiences in interviews with students.

Students took their notes and recordings from each interview and turned them into a detailed narrative of the journey each interviewee took to the United States. Accurate maps of their journeys were created to help readers visualize the distance traveled.

Through the process of creating this anthology, students learned a great deal about themselves and the world. All who participated in these interviews and also the parents of these fifth-grade students were invited to a culmination of learning celebration to learn more about this expedition, and receive copies of the books the students created.

PHOTO CAPTIONS: (Above) Presumpscot fifth-graders interview Superintendent Xavier Botana, about the journey he and his family took to immigrate to the United States when he was a boy.

(Below) Presumpscot fifth-graders share with family members their learning about human rights and immigrants. 

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