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Primary Education News
News How to teach … the UN
As the crisis in Syria continues, the role of the United Nations is a really good topic for students. The Guardian Teacher Network has resources for teachers
As the crisis in Syria continues to unfold and the possibility of military action hovers, an understanding of the role the United Nations plays in the world is critical.
The Guardian Teacher Network has some resources to help your pupils explore the UN – and with Peace Day coming up on 21 September, followed by United Nations Day on 24 October, there are even more reasons to cover the topic this term in citizenship or tutor time, or elsewhere.
The perfect start is the United Nations Matters teacher's handbook, produced by the United Nations Association – UK (UNA-UK) and Unesco Associated Schools in the UK. The pack is an invaluable guide for teachers to the UN, including its history and aims, as well as clear explanations of how it works and what it can realistically achieve.
Also shared are some useful UN lesson plans for key stage 3. Teachers will find a set of one-hour lessons on the UN entitled working for us all, keeping the peace, fighting poverty, protecting human rights and diplomacy in action. This handy glossary of terms can be used as a reference point for students or as a card-sort activity. Interested teachers can find out more about the whole teaching pack and can request a hard copy (which includes a CD-Rom with further resources) by emailing Natalie Saad.
For schools that want to investigate further, UNA-UK has also created this Model UN portal to help those organising or taking part in Model UN events. It is packed full of really useful information and ideas for organisers and participants. Model UN events are a role-play of a UN meeting, so the more teachers and students can learn about the UN, the better the outcomes will be. Also check out Generation United Nations, a programme for engaging 13- to 18-year-olds and their schools with the work and significance of the UN.
Thanks so much to citizenship teacher Pete Pattison for sharing a whole suite of resources from his year 7s project, which has been designed to help students explore their own solutions to violence in Syria – and in doing so learn all about the UN. First of all, find the Power Up lesson plan, which explains and sets out the whole project. Then teachers will need to download a couple of really useful PowerPoints, first UN lesson 1, in which students will investigate the current crisis in Syria and UN lesson 2, in which students get to investigate the history and aims of the UN and to understand the UN charter as a kind of referee's rule book. Now students can prepare for the actual model UN debate. Find this helpful debate prep sheet and these UN role-play cards. Finally, students can write to William Hague and urge him towards whatever they think is the best way forward. Here are some tips of email planning and a helpsheet for pupils. And do take a look at the video of the debate that eventually took place in Pattison's class.
Modern studies teacher Gordon Docherty from North Berwick high school has shared his UN Peace conference activity, which he does at S2 level (equivalent to English year 8) when teaching conflict resolution.
Primary school-aged children can research the issues behind the conflict in Syria and the consequences using some powerful resources created by ActionAid, which contextualise the issues by focusing on one child's story. Israa is a 13-year-old girl who was forced to flee her home in Syria and is now living in Zaatari refugee camp in northern Jordan, which has become the fourth largest city in Jordan, with 3,000 shops. Pupils can find out what life was like for Israa before and after the civil war started. Find a lesson plan and activity sheets and related PowerPoint. Also see these teacher's notes and classroom poster. Students can put themselves in Israa's shoes by writing a newspaper article or blogpost about her story. Find this newspaper template to help plan it.
Finally, the UN official education site Cyberschoolbus has some excellent online teaching resources that have been written with US schools in mind, but which are easily adapted for UK schools. Particularly useful is this virtual tour of the UN, where students can click on the places they want to visit and learn a bit about the history of the UN's buildings and main bodies.
Join the Guardian Teacher Network community for free access to teaching resources and an opportunity to share your own as well as read and comment on blogs. There are also thousands of teaching, leadership and support jobs on the site. Visit http://jobs.theguardian.com/schools.