Lessons

"Fractured Lands: How the Arab World Came Apart" Lesson Plans

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Black and white image of children in silhoutte from an IDP camp in Iraq.

Children in an IDP camp. Image by Paolo Pellegrin. Iraq, July 2016

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Border crossing in Ras Jdir near Ben Gardenne. Image by Paolo Pellegrin. Tunisia, 2011.

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Sinjar, Iraq. Image by Paolo Pellegrin. Iraq, 2016.

Sinjar, Iraq. Image by Paolo Pellegrin. Iraq, 2016.

The following lessons plans offer different ways to engage students in Scott Anderson's "Fractured Lands," a gripping examination into the unraveling of the modern Middle East through the stories of six individuals of different ages, nationalities, socio-economic backgrounds and ethnicities. While the article is over 41,000 words, the story offers an incredible historical context to the current conflicts in the Middle East. It also personalizes those conflicts through the narratives of six fascinating subjects, two of whom are not far off in age from most secondary school and university students. The structure of the piece lends itself to reading in small groups, independent reading and a rich analysis of how an author unfolds a story using historical research and personal narrative. The article, photos by Paolo Pellegrin and accompanying virtual-reality film “The Fight for Fallujah” by Ben C. Solomon also provide platforms for essential conversations about the local impacts of the current crises facing the Middle East and potential extension exercises that get students thinking about the impact of their own countries' decisions on communities in the Middle East.

 

 

Fractured Lands: K-12 Lesson Plan and Educational Resources

This lesson plan is designed as a guide that offers different ways to engage your students in the article "Fractured Lands" by Scott Anderson, published by The New York Times with support from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. The Pulitzer Center's education team has provided a series of detailed comprehension questions corresponding to the different sections within the article. We have also provided the following tools for introducing students to the story and guiding student analysis of the piece: Pre-Reading Questions, frameworks for analyzing the full text, discussion questions and extension activities

 

Analyzing Elements of “Fractured Lands”- College Level

 

This lesson includes a series of discussion questions and exercises to promote your analytical thinking about elements of “Fractured Lands.” The questions are grouped by category, though some topics and ideas will inevitably overlap.

 

An ISIS Fighter’s Background

Students read passages from Scott Anderson's “Fractured Lands” and analyze the characterization of Wakaz Hassan, a former ISIS fighter, in order to understand how authors illustrate the complexity of a particular topic. Students also compare this discussion with other Western depictions of ISIS.

   

The Arab Spring Monologues

Students learn about the collapse of the Middle East by reading and studying a longform article by Scott Anderson, "Fractured Lands," published in The New York Times. They will create their own play—writing monologues for the six principal characters in the article as well as an American narrator.

   

Children’s Books

This lesson plan asks students to create children's books inspired by the themes and characters in Scott Anderson’s ‘Fractured Lands: How the Arab World Came Apart.’ Students reflect on the characters and moments that most resonated with them, and then use those reflections as the inspiration for original stories intended for readers ages 5-8.

 

“Fractured Lands Preface- Interactive Digital Notebook”

Introduce your students to the characters featured in "Fractured Lands," as well as Scott Anderson's comprehensive overview of how the conclusion of WWI contributed to current borders in the Middle East, using this interactive slideshow for middle school students. Designed by Tracy Crowley, Information Literacy Specialist at Community Consolidated School District 21 in Arlington Heights, IL, the digital notebook engages students in the preface of the seven-chapter story by incorporating reflection questions, vocabulary review and short writing exercises throughout the text.

 

“Fractured Lands” 30 ft Timeline Assessing Causes and Effects

Students are asked to create a visual-heavy, text-light timeline that illustrates the factors, characteristics and effects of conflict in the Arab World. The timeline is planned and designed using a close reading of "Fractured Lands," and is used to start a discussion of how these events coincide with what the average American was concerned with at the same time as critical events in the Middle East.

   

Fight for Fallujah: A virtual reality film

In this lesson, students will watch the 11-minute virtual-reality film “Fight for Falluja” from The New York Times and answer questions designed to explore how journalists represent war.

   

Working with “Fractured Lands” in Middle East History

This lesson can be used as a culminating project for students that have studied “Fractured Lands” as part of a focus on the history of the Middle East from WWI to the present.

 

 

 

 

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