Lesson Three: Building a Timeline

By: Leah Judd

Leah Judd

Education Collaborator

Leah Judd has a passion for teaching Social Studies.  Working in Sechelt, BC, Leah has been lucky to work with students who embrace inquiry learning and created locker museum displays during the pandemic to share their curated stories with the school community.  Leah shares her enthusiasm for Social Studies as editor of Salon, an online quarterly publication from the Social Studies Educators Network of Canada @ssencressc

Suggested Subject Areas

Social Studies

Grade Level

Adaptable across 8-10


2 x 60 minutes

Lesson Outcomes

Students will complete their profiles of human rights champions. The class will then work together to build a timeline that includes all of the selected human rights champions, placed in order of the “dates of significance” listed on their profiles.

Lesson Outline 

Part One: Independent Work

Timing: approx. 60 minutes

Completing the Profiles

Students work to complete revised versions of their human rights champion profiles. A reminder that the expectations are to fill one page (8 x 11 or 11 x 14, as per teacher and class preference) and must include:

It is at the teacher’s discretion whether to include a teacher review or peer review step between drafting and finalizing these profiles. This might depend on time constraints, the social dynamics of the group, and the age and stage of the class.

The teacher should be prepared to offer basic art supplies (crayons, markers, felts, magazines) to students so they can engage in the illustration element of the expectations. The teacher should also consider whether students will need to print things out before or during this period.

For early finishers: If some students finish their profiles early, they could begin to create the basic timeline frame for the profiles to be added to. This timeline could be on a single classroom wall, across the entire classroom, on a bulletin board, in a hallway, in the library, or another shared space. It could also be temporary displayed on desks. The timeline itself could be built with different kinds of paper, string, or simply date markers—whatever works best for the context. If space is a timeline, students could use a digital tool like Sutori.

Part Two: The Timeline

Timing: approx. 60 minutes

Building the Timeline

The class works together to create a timeline of human rights champions in Canada over the last 100 years based on the dates of significance they have selected to commemorate their activist.

Once the profiles are up, students can wander the timeline, reading through the different profiles. Other community members and classes could also be invited to view it during this time or at a later date.


As a suggested formative (assessment for learning) assessment and engagement with their peers’ work, the teacher could propose the following task:

Students will use the information from the timeline on display to connect one or two other human rights champions from the timeline with the person they chose to profile. Either in their notebooks or via Google Docs, students answer the following prompt:

Based on what you learned about this (or these) human rights champion(s) from their timeline profile, how do you see their work, biography, and legacy as being connected to the champion that you originally profiled? What are the similarities and differences? What connects them in your mind?

As discussed in Lesson Two in this series, the teacher is welcome to create or co-create a summative (assessment of learning) rubric for either the original profile task, and could evaluate elements such as: knowledge of the champion in question, communication and vocabulary, creative thinking, drawing thoughtful connections to the UDHR, etc. This rubric should be shown and/or co-created with students at this stage of the process, before they begin working.

Optional Extension

As an extension activity or as an additional activity for early finishers, students could identify timeline gaps (i.e. periods of time where there is no human rights profile present) and do more research to fill in those gaps with the names of human rights champions from those time periods. These additions don’t need to be full profiles—they could simply include the champion’s name and a date of significance, and, depending on age/stage of students, a sentence about their contribution to human rights.