Lesson Plan August 25, 2016
"Fractured Lands" Eighth Grade Global Awareness Lesson Plans
(Approximately 17 minutes to read)
- How does the author describe Azar?
- What does Azar mean when he says, “...This is not the time to talk, but to shoot ?” What is he referring to?
- What event is credited with starting the Arab Spring?
- How many nations succumbed to Arab Spring protests? Which nations?
- Why does the author feel that the Arab Spring was inevitable?
- How did Arab leaders consolidate their power before the Arab Spring? According to the author, how did leaders in the Arab Spring nations stay in power?
- Why do students of the Middle East call countries like Iraq, Syria and Libya artificial states?
- What is the ‘divide and conquer approach’ to colonization, and why did the European powers adopt this approach to establishing nations in the Middle East? What are potential consequences to using this strategy?
- What is the symbolic significance of the removal of the statue of Saddam Hussein from Firdoz Square?
- What did Qaddafi predict would be the impact of the American invasion in Iraq?
- What is the symbolic significance of the removal of the statue of Saddam Hussein from Firdoz Square?
- What did Qaddafi predict would be the impact of the American invasion in Iraq?
Part 1: Origins
(Approximately 26 minutes to read)
- Why is Egypt considered the capital of the Middle East?
- What role did Gamal Abdel Nasser play in modern Egyptian history?
- What is the baathist philosophy?
- What does the author suggest makes Egypt different from the rest of the Arab world?
- According to the author, how did Nasser, and his successor Anwar Sadat, maintain power?
- What drove Laila to activism?
- What actions led to growing distrust of Mubarak, the leader who followed Sadat?
- How did Qaddafi come to power in Libya?
- How were the regimes of Nasser (Egypt), Qaddafi (Libya), Saddam Hussein (Iraq) and Hafez al-Assad similar (Syria)? How were they different?
- What does Majdi mean when he says, ‘‘Everybody was connected to the state somehow?’’ Predict: What are potential consequences to these actions?
- What role has Majdi’s family played in Libyan history?
- How did Arab regimes view Islamic fundamentalists?
- What is the “naked emperor syndrome “?
- What juxtaposition does the author make at the end of the section?
- Who are the Kurds? Which countries are home to Kurdish communities? What is the relationship between the Kurds and the Arab states?
What is the Pesh Merga? What is Azar’s connection to the Pesh Merga?
How does the author describe the relationship between the US and Iraq? What was the impact on the Kurds?
What led to the establishment of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)? How was it formed and what was the significance of its formation?
- Describe the religious composition of Homs, a city in Syria’s central valley.
- How did Bashar Al Assad come to power in Syria?
- Why was Syria on good standing with the U.S. in 2003?
- What was Majd’s relationship with the West?
- How did Egyptians feel about their government aligning itself with the US?
Part Two: The Iraq War
(Approximately 35 minutes to read)
- What does Khulood describe as “The Iraqi system?” How did she feel about it?
- Where was Khulood when the US invaded Iraq? How does she describe the US invasion ?
- What was the Coalition Provisional Authority?
- What role did Khulood play in Iraq after the American invasion?
- Where was Wakaz when the US invaded? Why did the US invade this region of Iraq?
- What does Wakaz mean when he says “So yes, our life was definitely much easier before the Americans came… Even if it wasn’t their fault directly, that’s when everything became much harder.”
- What does the author mean when he writes, “...the seeds of disaster for the American intervention had already been sown”?
- What was the impact of the dismissal of Baathist party members and military?
- Who attacked the CPA compound? What were their objectives?
- How was Khulood impacted by the attack?
- What was Khulood idea for a non-governmental organization (NGO)? What would be its mission, and what barriers did she face in creating it?
- What factors was Khulood considering when deciding whether or not she should stay in Iraq? What would you have done in her position?
- What were Laila and Ahmed’s reputations in Egypt in 2005?
- What initiated protests in Egypt in 2005?
- What factors contributed to Mubarak losing public support? What groups then started to gain support?
- How did Egyptians interviewed feel about the United States? How does this compare to how the author describes to the perception of Egypt by the US?
- How did the protest in 2005 impact Laila?
- What was the “Libya Dawn”? When did it take place, and why?
- What was the impact of the Iraq war on Libya?
- How does the author end this section? Why do you think he chooses this image?
- How does Khulood get to the U.S.?
- How does Khulood describe her life in the U.S.? How does this compare to your experience of the U.S.?
- Why does Khulood decide to leave the U.S.? Where does she go, and what is the impact of that decision? What would you do in this situation?
- What is the shabiha?
- Why is the city of Homs considered the crossroads of Syria?
- How does the author end this section? Why do you think he ends it this way? Predict what might happen to Majd.
Part Three: Arab Spring
(Approximately 65 minutes to read)
- What does Laila mean when she says, ‘‘Well, tomorrow we’re having a revolution, but if the revolution ends early, yes, I’ll be here “?
- Create a visualization that represents the events of the revolution in Cairo, Egypt’s capital.
- Who took charge when Mubarak fell?
- What does Laila describe as a “critical moment” after Mubarak resigned from office?
- Why did Majdi join the military?
- What was the zenga zenga speech? What led to the speech, and what happened after the speech was delivered?
- How does Majdi view the regime after the zenga zenga speech? What informs this opinion? OR How did Majdi’s life change after the zenga zenga speech?
- What was the ‘special mission’ Majdi was selected to conduct? Why was he selected?
- How does Majdi’s experience of the Arab Spring differ from Laila’s? How does the author use dramatic irony in this section?
- What does Assad mean when he says, “...Syria is stable. Why? Because you have to be very closely linked to the beliefs of the people..?”
- What was Majd’s role in the protests?
- What were protesters in Homs asking for?
- How does Assad’s image in the west compare with his image in Syria?
- What did Assad say in his March 30 address?
- What sparked a change in the protests against Assad?
- What did Majdi find upon returning to Misurata?
- How does his return to Misurata change his view of the war? What does he decide to do? How do you feel about his decision?
- Why doesn’t Majdi stay in Tunisia?
- How does the author describe the battles between the Libyan government and rebels? What was Majdi’s role?
- What does Majdi find out about his friend Jalal? How does the author describe Majdi’s journey to make this discovery?
- What does the author suggest led to the relative calm in the Al Waar neighborhood where Majd lives?
- What is Majd referring to when he says “Most of them were just guys from the neighborhood that had managed to get their hands on guns”?
- How does Majd describe the Free Syrian Army? How does this compare to the American perception?
- What does Majdi mean when he says “both sides used us. Both sides slaughtered us”?
- What does Majdi call the first mistake of the post-Qadaffi government, and why?
- How does Majdi feel about his military diploma?
- Why does Majdi call Libya “a failed state”?
- What image does the author use to close this section? Why do you think he concludes the section with this image?
- Who were the final candidates in Egypt’s first election post-Mubarak?
- Who does Laila decide to support and why? What influenced this decision?
- What does the author mean when he writes, “On the day he assumed office, then, Morsi was barely more than a figurehead, the public face to a democracy already gutted”?
- What was Morsi’s relationship to the military.
- What led to protests against Morsi? What was Laila’s role?
- How does the author describe Sisi’s response to the protest? What language does the author use to describe Sisi, and what is the impact?
- Describe Alaa’s role in the protests falling Mubarak’s fall. Why do you think the author closes the chapter with this detail?
- Why did Majd’s family, the Ibrahims, choose to stay in Homs?
- How does Majd survive his encounter with the Free Syrian Army?
- What does Khulood do to make a living in Jordan?
- What differences does Khulood observe between the Iraqi children and the Syrian children she works with? What about between the boys and the girls?
- What obstacles does Khulood encounter as she tries to seek asylum for her family?
- How does the chapter begin? How does this image set the tone for the rest of the chapter?
- How does the author describe the Sisi regime?
- Why does the author describe Homs as ‘Syria’s Stalingrad’?
- How does the author end this section? Why do you think he ends the “Arab Spring” section of the article with this visual?
Part Four: ISIS Rising
(Approximately 35 minutes to read)
- How did Wakaz become aware of ISIS? What did he learn about its mission?
- Why does the author describe the ISIS offensive in June 2015 as “”one of the most stunning military feats in modern history”?
- How does the author describe Maliki’s regime in Iraq? Predict how this might contribute to the rise of ISIS.
- How does Wakaz respond to ISIS? What informs his decision?? What factors influenced him?
- Describe the ISIS training.
- What is Azar’s connection to the Kurdish army Pesh Merga?
- Why does Azar describe as a ‘golden moment’ for the Kurds? Why?
- How does Azar describe the relationship between the Kurds and the rest of Iraq?
- Who are the Yazidis? How are they viewed by other Kurds?
- What happened when ISIS invaded Sinjar? What was Azar’s connection?
- How does the author describe Majd’s life in Syria after the citywide ceasefire in Homs?
- How does the chapter conclude? Predict: How do you think Majd and his family will respond?
- How does Azar describe the strategy of a typical ISIS attack?
- To what does Azar attribute success by the Kurds in gaining territory from ISIS?
- How does Azar describe the relationship between the US and the Pesh Merga?
- Who are the Barzani and Talabani tribes? What is their relationship?
- How does the author describe the treatment of women by ISIS? What struggles do Yazidi women face?
- How long does Wakaz work with ISIS? Why does he decide to leave?
- Where does Wakaz decide to go, and why?
- Predict: What does do you think the author means by “the ISIS ‘ratline’?
- Why does Majd decide to leave Syria?
- Describe Majd’s journey out of Syria. Where does he go and what does he encounter?
Part Five: Exodus
(Approximately 30 minutes to read)
- Describe Wakaz’s journey out of Iraq. Where does he go and why?
- How does the author describe the situation along the Turkish border?
- How does the author close this section? Why do you think he chose this image to end the chapter?
- How does Majd end up in Dresden, Germany?
- How does Majd describe attitude towards refugees in Dresden?
- What does Majd predict will happen to Syria? Does he plan to return? Why or why not?
- What is Khulood’s plan for gaining asylum for her family?
- Describe Khulood and her sister’s journey to Europe.
- Why do you think the author chose the final quotation as the end of this chapter?
- Where is Wakaz at the start of the chapter?
- How does the author describe his interview with Wakaz?
- How does the KRG officer describe differences between treatment of former ISIS fighters by the Kurds and the Iraqis?
- How does the author describe changes in American influence on Egypt? What has been the impact?
- What does Laila think will happen to Egypt?
- How does the author describe Sinjar?
- Why does Azar say that he wants to destroy the Arab homes in Sinjar?
- How does the author describe the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)?
- What questions does the author pose about the Middle East while describing the KRG?
(Approximately 5 minutes)
- What is Majdi’s hope for Libya? Why?
- What led to anti-Sisi protests in Egypt in April 2016?
- How does the piece end? Why do you think the author chose this to conclude the piece?
- Stop and jot: Where is each character by the end of the piece? What are the states of their countries? What questions do you still have?
The Fight for Fallujah Comprehension and Reflection Questions
- Think about cityscapes—how do the images in the VR compare to Anderson’s descriptions of places like Homs and Mt. Sinjar? What is the impact of seeing Fallujah in a virtual reality film?
- How does the Iraqi army look/behave? Is this different from the way you imagine your country’s army?
- From this film, what can you gather about the way ISIS treats its prisoners?
- What are the conditions for the refugees of Fallujah?
- What is Solomon’s tone? Why do you think he feels this way?
- Why do you think The New York Times decided to juxtapose Anderson’s writing with Solomon’s video?
A Note to Educators:
This unit plan uses a few elements of the "Fractured Lands" K-12 lesson written by the Pulitzer Center, but also incorporates new warm ups, a digital notebook with comprehension exercises, and several new extension exercises. This lesson was implemented successfully across three 8th grade classes with learners with vastly different needs and abilities.
(Images courtesy of The New York Times Magazine)
Introducing the Lesson:
In "Fractured Lands," Scott Anderson explores the modern Middle East through the eyes of six individuals, tracing their lives from the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq through the Arab spring, up to the present day. While these people come from different countries, ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds, their interlinked narratives provide a window into a turbulent region and help the reader understand the macro-narrative of modern Middle Eastern history. Throughout "Fractured Lands" Anderson raises questions about leadership, governance, identity, dissent and the consequences of history, which enrich our understanding of current events and may also help us better anticipate the future. The article is also accompanied by an incredible virtual reality film from Ben Solomon. Click here to be connected to Solomon's film.
Below, 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:
These resources are aimed at addressing the following learning goals:
- Seek deeper and more complex understanding of the historical context that led to current conflict in the Middle East.
- Invigorate a curiosity about the conditions of people living in the midst of conflicts.
- Reflect on the choices that people can exercise in responding to crises of war, threat, and violence in the Middle East.
- Discover evidence of hope, reselience, and courage while reading the article and connect these threads to their own lives and communities.
Section 1. Investigate the world: Students investigate the world beyond their immediate environment:
Warm Up and Pre-assessment:
- On large outlines of a map of Libya, Egypt, Syria, and Iraq, write everything you know or believe to be true about each of those regions. Consider using black or grey writing instruments.
- Discuss, as a class, prior knowledge of historical and current events that have happened or are currently happening in the Middle East.
- Take ten minutes to search for images on your Chromebooks on Egypt, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. Discuss what you found with a partner. What new impressions do you have?
- Free write for ten minutes on a conflict you are currently facing in your life.
- What is the conflict you are facing?
- What role does courage play in your current conflict?
- What role does resiliency play?
- What role does hope play?
- Why is understanding past and current events in the Middle important for students today? How do these regional events connect to current events around the world?
Pre-Reading Questions and Exercises:
Reflection and Discussion on the themes of "Fractured Lands" through individual writing, pair discussions or whole-group discussions, guide students in reflecting on the following questions in advance of introducing "Fractured Lands."
When you think of home, what do you imagine? What makes a place a home for you?
When you think of your country, what do you imagine? How connected do you feel to your country? How would you describe the identity of your country?
What makes a strong leader? What do people expect from their leaders?
How do you choose to engage with your government when you disagree with its decisions?
What has been the most singular event of your life? How did this event change your life?
What has been a singular event in your country? What was the impact of that event on you directly?
Exercise: How do you define your identity?
What roles do the following play in how you and your students define your identities? Rank them in order of importance to how you define your identity. (1=most important)
Other (write in)_________
Have students discuss their responses and consider the following: What would you do if your government did not protect the part of your identity that is most important to you? How would you feel if other governments continued to support your government, even if it was not protecting this part of your identity?
Discussion: The History of the Middle East
Assess students' prior knowledge of the historical events referenced in the piece by having them reflect and research in small groups on the following:
When were the following countries established, and how? What are current challenges facing these countries?
What has been your country's relationship with the countries listed above? What is the current relationship between your country and the countries listed above?
What was the Arab Spring, and what has been the impact of the Arab Spring on the Middle East? What has been the impact in your community?
What is ISIS, and how was it formed?
Who are the Kurds, and what has their role in the fight against ISIS?
Photo analysis: Visualizing "Fractured Lands"
Use the following thinking routine developed by Project Zero to guide an analysis of photojournalist Paolo Pellegrin's photos from "Fractured Lands." Use the two below, or click on the "Resources" link to review the full slideshow. The same activity can be utilized from photos in the New York Times Magazine (filter out ahead of time):
What do you see in the photo?
What do you think is happening in the photo?
What does it make you wonder?
For more resources to use in guiding an analysis of photography, click here.
Introducing the Article "Fractured Lands" by Scott Anderson:
At first glance, Anderson's piece can appear daunting in its length. However, Anderson's clear and concise explanation of the history of the Middle East through the eyes of several characters provides incredible opportunities for rich discussion about the human impact of conflict in the Middle East.
- Show the Meet the Journalist: Scott Anderson video as an introduction to the article.
- Introduce the digital interactive notebook for students to go through the Preface individually, with a small group or partner, or as a guided experience with the teacher. We found this works best if students can make the choice of their work style each day. Monitor comprehension by responses on the reflection and activity pages.
- Use the following activities to kick off class each day, with the reminder of time being work-time in the digital interactive notebook on the Preface section of Fractured Lands.
- As a class collect a list of everything learned and questions students have (from the corresponding pages as a digital notebook). Post in a visible place in the classroom.
Section 2 Recognize Perspectives: Students recognize their own and others' perspectives.
- Students bring in or research a current events happening in the Middle East. Students recognize their own perspectives and and identify influences on that perspective.
- Arbitrary borders exercise: Use this activity the day after discussing the arbitrary borders created by Britain and France's mandates to help the students better understand the implications of those actions. Have the students desks rearranged in an "unfair and poorly planned manner" for when students walk into class, as well as a new class seating arrangement. For example, some students should have three desks while others sit on the floor. One might be at the teacher's desk while another has to balance on a stool for the class. This can help solidify a connection to the way that these lands have been under the influence of distant and out-of-touch lawmakers and governments.
Geopolitical Jenga: This activity can be used many different ways with current events. Collect enough sets of Jenga so there can be four students or less per group. One version is to have students take an area or current event and name the key players. Syria is a good place to start. Each student can be given a role (Assad, rebel groups, the U.S., Russia, etc.) and then takes a turn pulling a block from the Jenga set. As each student pulls a block, that student uses the perspective of their assigned role to name a cause, desire, story, factor, etc, contributing to conflict in Syria. The goal of the game is to see which factor/role finally topples the stack of blocks. A second version of the game is to have students name an event happening in the Middle East as they pull a block. A different event should be named each time by each student as they go around the circle. At the end of the game, each group shares out the event that finally topples the stack and the overall importance of that event in the world.
The Fight for Fallujah: We had two Virtual Reality setups (The New York Time's VR app and Google Cardboard) and pulled students into the hallway two at a time to watch The Fight for Fallujah. Then, students discussed their very powerful reactions to the film with an adult. A free-write could also be used. Additional resources from the Pulitzer Center: If students are also engaging with The Fight for Fallujah, a virtual reality film connected to "Fractured Lands" from filmmaker Ben Solomon, prepare your students by discussing the role that Fallujah is playing in the war between ISIS and the Kurds. The project "From 'the Other Iraq' to Kurdistan" from Pulitzer Center grantees Jenna Krajeski and Sebastian Meyer will be helpful resources. Comprehension questions connected to Solomon's film follow the comprehension questions for the article.
Untangling the confusing politics of the Middle East: Display this diagram from The Atlantic to discuss the complex relationships and situations in the Middle East. Students can act this out, free-write on what they think is going on, or discuss as a whole group.
Fractured Lands Parts 1-V (pages 21-57). The page numbers correspond to a PDF copy of the article. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a free PDF of the article for use in your class.
- Using the page the digital interactive notebook students pick a character they feel they can most relate to or are most interested in. Take a class vote to prioritize the characters (depending on time). If you have two adults in the room then you can run two groups simultaneously. The more groups and the more adults, the better.
- Each groups reads their character's story straight the article, leaaving the sections of the other characters unread for the time being. If a group is done early they can go back to the other stories.
- Use rewordify.com to support English Language Learners. This helps simplify the vocabulary so students could follow along as the stories are read to the small group.
- Students listen for evidence of hope, resilience, and courage (from the meet the journalist video).
- Students sketch important images and note significant details as they listen to the stories. Pause occasionally to allow students to share their sketches.
- After completing each character's story add new learning to the chart of what was learned in the Preface and add to the character boxes in this event log/evidence of learning template.
Fractured Lands Epilogue (page 58) The page numbers correspond to a PDF copy of the article. Contact email@example.com to receive a free PDF of the article for use in your class.
- Create a Google doc with three columns. Label the columns: What? So What? Now What? Send to students.
- Students read the Epilogue individually. Allow students to use devices to look up unknown words.
- Students fill in the Google document.
- Add new learning to the class chart.
- Watch Fractured Lands: How the Arab World Came Apart from Democracy Now.
- Discuss key points as a class.
- How do the main messages connect to life as a middle school student? What difficult decisions do middle school students need to make to be safe, successful, and happy? Free-write and share out.
- In small groups, students fill out this event log/evidence of learning template (this can also be done during the prior activities). Make a copy to send to students.
Communicate Ideas: Students communicate their ideas effectively with diverse audiences.
Take Action: Students translate their ideas into appropriate actions to improve conditions.
- Tell students that it is important to share what they have learned on this topic for a real audience that will benefit from the information.
- Have students brainstorm:
- Who would benefit from the information? Why and how?
- What kind of real product could they create to deliver that information to the audience?
- How will the final product/s be shared?
- Students create an action plan to create and share their product/s.
**Here is an example our students shared created, then shared on YouTube and Twitter to reach target audiences.***
Post-assessment and conlcusion:
Go back to the pre-assessment outlines of the Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and Libya. Write, in color, what you now know about those regions. This can include facts, impressions, understandings, and questions
Guiding questions to be used throughout the unit:
Throughout students' exploration the article, have them track following guiding questions:
- What historical events led to the current situation in the Middle East?
- What has been the global and local impact of the invasion in Iraq, the Arab Spring and the rise of ISIS?
- How do you imagine the future of the Middle East and its many communities?
Use the following questions to guide a discussion about the themes and structure of "Fractured Lands" with your students:
What is sticking with you about the piece? What are your initial reactions? What questions do you still have?
Is there a character you identified with? Who and why? What role did that character play in Anderson's overall narrative?
What were some of the key points that shaped the way events in the Middle East unfolded? What role did western countries play? What might have happened if these events had unfolded differently?
How has reading this article changed and/or affirmed any of your conceptions of the Middle East?
What factors influence people's decisions to remain in or leave their hometowns? Think about Khulood's decision to leave Iraq but then to return to Jordan, Majdi's decision to stay in Libya, and Majd's decision to seek refuge in Europe. What would you have done if you were in their situations?
When describing her children's involvement in the protests in Egypt, Laila says, "'I never tried to dissuade them. Even if I had wanted to — and I probably did at times — I didn't." How would you have engaged with the protests that followed the Arab Spring? How would you have responded if you were Laila?
Where did you find evidence of hope, resliency, and courage? How might things have turned out differently without hope, resliency, and courage? Were you inspired to find more hope, reliency, and courage in your own life? Give examples.
Consider Majdi's statement in the epilogue: ''Not that it will solve all our problems, but at least with the king we were a nation, we had an identity. Without that identity, we are all just individuals — or at most, members of a tribe.'' What do you think will happen next in the Middle East, and why? What is your hope for the Middle East, and how can that hope be achieved? What can your role be?
These lesson plans and learning experiences are based on and adapted from the original K-12 lesson plans written by the Pulitzer Center. New pieces written by Faraz Chaudry and Tracy Crowley.
REPORTING FEATURED IN THIS LESSON PLAN
×PART OF: Fractured LandsAugust 11, 2016
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