Thirteen Ed Online
Lesson Plans
Overview Procedures for Teachers Organizers for Students

Procedures for teachers is divided into four sections:
Prep -- Preparing for the lesson
Steps -- Conducting the lesson
Extensions -- Additional activities
Community Connections -- Real world actions for students after completion of the lesson


Before teaching this lesson, bookmark all of the Web sites used in the lesson and create a word-processing document with all of the Web sites listed as hyperlinks, so that students can access the sites. (Note: It's a good idea to preview these sites before presenting them to your class.) Make sure that your computer has necessary media players, like RealPlayer, to show IN THE MIX: THE NEW NORMAL and FRONTLINE/WORLD streaming clips (if applicable). Cue the IN THE MIX: THE NEW NORMAL "Get the News" and the FRONTLINE/WORLD: Truth and Lies in Baghdad videotapes to the beginning of the segments.

Media Components

Computer Resources:
  • Modem: 56.6 Kbps or faster.
  • Browser: Netscape Navigator 4.0 or above or Internet Explorer 4.0 or above.
  • Personal computer (Pentium II 350 MHz or Celeron 600 MHz) running Windows® 95 or higher and at least 32 MB of RAM. Macintosh computer: System 8.1 or above and at least 32 MB of RAM.


For the class:

  • A television and VCR
  • A projector, if possible

    For each student:

  • Pen or pencil
  • Computer with Internet access
  • Student Response Sheet

    "Get the News"
    In this episode, teens explore how news coverage on TV, the Web and in print has impacted the way they cope with a post-9/11 world. Teens also consider how they can think critically about news coverage by discussing the differences between primary, credible and biased sources. A clip from this show is available in streaming video on the IN THE MIX: THE NEW NORMAL Web site.

    "Truth and Lies in Baghdad"
    This documentary follows Sam Kiley, an experienced war correspondent, as he travels through Jordan and Iraq in search of information about Iraqi human rights violations. As Kiley encounters obstacles, viewers see the difficulties that journalists face in a society where the press is restricted. This story, as well as the others from FRONTLINE/WORLD, is also available in streaming video from the FRONTLINE/WORLD Web site.

    Web Resources:

    Tip: Preview all sites before presenting them to the class.

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    Introductory Activity:

  • Explain to your students that you will be examining what was going on in Iraq before the most recent United States invasion. You will be looking at specific allegations of human rights abuses as well as the extreme restrictions placed on the media. You will explore the importance of freedom of the press, the role that human rights abuses can play in international affairs, and how allegations of these abuses can be difficult to verify when information is restricted. Begin by asking your students, as a whole class, to define what human rights are and explain why they are important for international affairs. Next divide the class up into 5 groups, and distribute the student response sheets. Ask students to go to the Human Rights 101 Web site and read through "Human Rights & You" and, as a group, go through the interactive Profile. (Note: Encourage students to read the Profile feature stories aloud to each other, and ask them to try to reach consensus about their answers to the interactive Profile. Remind them that they will need to explain why they chose the answers they did.) While students are doing this, ask them to answer the questions in the Human Rights segment of the student organizer:
    • How would you define Human Rights?
    • How are Human Rights legally defined?
    • Who gets to define these rights?
    • What area of Human Rights most interests your group? Why?
  • Next, tell your class that you will be learning about how the ideals of human rights impacted the U. S. invasion of Iraq. Ask the class to begin learning about the Iraqi situation by brainstorming a list of things that they know about Iraq; record their answers. It is possible that they will give answers that are incorrect, but record all items that the students offer. Students are likely to respond: "Saddam Hussein", "Islam", "war", "nuclear weapons", "Tigris-Euphrates River Valley". After students have given a list of as many things as they can think of, review the list with them and discuss their views and perceptions of Iraq. Work together to pinpoint which of the issues they raised are related to human rights and why. You may want to refer them back to the HR 101 Web site.

    Note: When doing this exercise, students may give answers that are both factually incorrect, such as "democratic government", as well as answers that may be stereotypes that are not indicative of all people in Iraq. For example, in today's political climate it is possible that students may offer "Al-Qaeda" or "terrorist" as a response. For this exercise, it is important to hear the stereotypes and preconceptions that students have before addressing them. One way in which you can address students' misconceptions is to record these responses on a different section of the blackboard. When students are finished brainstorming, address these responses first, by engaging students in a discussion about why they gave these answers.

  • Next, ask your students, as a group, to think about how they have learned about Iraq. Together, the class can brainstorm a list of news sources, such as: newspapers, television news programs, conversations with adults, and Web sites. Once you have created a list on the board, ask students how they know which sources to trust. Then distribute the student response sheets and ask students to look at the questions in the "Freedom of the Press" segment. Ask students to answer these questions as they watch IN THE MIX: THE NEW NORMAL. (Note: Depending on your students' interests, you may either screen the entire program or the clip available on the Web site.)

    Define the following terms:
    • Primary source
    • Bias
    • Credible source
    After screening this material, ask your students to write a paragraph about how they would know about Iraq if freedom of the press were restricted -- or if journalists had no access to information. Ask several students to share their paragraphs with the class.

  • Explain that you will be using a Web site to gather information about the history and background of Iraq. Then divide the class into small groups, and instruct them to 1) read the information on the Online Newshour's history of Iraq, look at the accompanying maps ( and and 2) record their answers to the questions in the section of the sheet marked "The History of Iraq":
    • What is the Tigris-Euphrates River Valley? Which civilizations inhabited this area?
    • Who appointed Prince Faisal? What is the country's relationship with the United Kingdom? Who are the other royal rulers of Iraq? What happened to them?
    • Describe the importance of oil in the country.
    • Describe the country's relationship with the USSR.
    • What is the Ba'ath party? What do they stand for? When did they come to power? Which country becomes their ally?
    • When did Saddam Hussein come to power? How did he gain his power? What changes did he make in Iraq?
    • In the 1980's, what country did Iraq fight against? How did this effect Iraq?
    • Who are the Kurds, and what has their history been like?
    • In 1990, which country did Iraq invade? What was the U.S. response? What was the outcome?
    • What is the "oil-for-food" program?
    • Why did the United Nations withdraw the weapons inspectors?
    When the students have finished the assignment, check for comprehension by discussing the questions students answered. Discuss the importance of the Tigris-Euphrates River Valley in early civilization, the history of tribal fighting in Iraq, the British rule, King Faisal and his regime, and finally the revolution, Saddam Hussein's rise to power and his actions while in power. In the discussion, be sure to go over the answers to all of the questions on the student response sheets, and address any additional questions or observations that students may have.

    Learning Activities:

  • Explain to your students that you will be watching a FRONTLINE/WORLD video in order to take a closer look at one journalist's experiences reporting in an area where information is restricted: Jordan and Iraq. Explain that you'd like students to think about the difficulties that a reporter faces in a country where there is limited freedom for the press. Explain to them that this documentary details the experiences of Sam Kiley, a reporter who was in Iraq in 2002, prior to the most recent United States invasion of the country, as President Bush was working to convince the United Nations that there was cause to invade. Among the reasons Bush listed was Saddam Hussein's attack on the human rights of the Iraqi people. At this point, all information going in and out of Iraq was tightly controlled by the government, and Kiley was asking people to confirm or deny specific examples of human rights abuses by the government. In the first clip, Kiley is in Amman, Jordan, 500 miles from Baghdad. In order to understand what is going on inside Iraq, he is questioning people who have fled that country. Instruct your students to watch the segment and record the answers to the questions on the section their student response sheet entitled "Segment 1":

    • What does the world propaganda mean?
    • What are the accusations that the U.S makes against Iraq, and what are the accusations that Iraq makes against the U.S. and the U.N.?
    • What country is the reporter in?
    • Are people willing to speak to the reporter? Why or why not? How would you characterize the people who won't speak to him? Why do some people choose to speak to him?
    PLAY the video from the beginning shot of the segment, and STOP the video after the reporter says "I think that covers it pretty well then." (There will be an image of two men talking.) Check for comprehension by discussing the questions students have answered on their sheets -- and pooling answers to those questions. If the students do not have the answers to the questions, REWIND that segment of the video and let them watch it again. Be sure to discuss with the students the control that Hussein's regime seems to have on people, even in a city that is 500 miles away from Baghdad. What is their perception of this control?

  • Explain to your students that you will begin to look at specific accusations of human rights abuses against Saddam Hussein's government. Ask your students to watch the segment and record the answers to the questions on "Segment 2":
    • What does Kiley mean when he says "Human rights violations are at the heart of the propaganda war?"
    • Who is this witness? Where did she live? What did she see there? Why did this happen to the women?
    • Why didn't the witness say anything?
    PLAY the video from the image of Saddam Hussein standing in an area with scaffolding and the reporter says, "President Bush has also accused Saddam of staging executions as part of the Islamic campaign, including public beheadings of women accused of prostitution." STOP the video when the reporter and a woman are speaking, and she says "This is what happens in Iraq." Check for comprehension. Discuss the organizer questions with your students. Encourage them to reflect on the following issues: Why are human rights violations something that is used in propaganda wars? How can human rights be used in this way? Why is it dangerous for this woman to speak to Kiley?

  • After you have discussed the atmosphere in Jordan for discussing political issues, explain that you will now watch a clip of an Iraqi defector who was willing to speak with Kiley. Ask your students to watch the segment and write down answers to the questions on "Segment 3":
    • Who is the exile who is willing to speak to Kiley? What is his background?
    • What story does he convey to Kiley?
    • Who are the Fedayeen Saddam? What does the exile accuse them of doing?
    PLAY the video from the shot of a road from the inside of a car, and the reporter says "I've learned of another exile who is willing to meet." STOP the video after the reporter says "the most feared paramilitaries in Iraq." (There is an image of many men dressed in black, carrying guns and marching.) Check for comprehension by discussing the questions on the organizer - make sure students have answers to those questions.

  • Explain that you will view another segment that details human rights allegations, but this time the man and woman will show their faces and use their names. Ask students to watch the segment and record the answers to the questions on "Segment 4":
    • What was Hassan Jummaa's former job? With whom did he work?
    • What happened to Jummaa?
    • What did he and his wife witness?
    • What happened to the family after the interview?
    PLAY the tape from the image of buildings on a hillside, and Kiley saying "In the hills of Amman I meet with another Iraqi defector." STOP the tape when there is the image of a man in a multi-colored shirt and Kiley says "made certain they had a new place to live." Check for comprehension by reviewing the answers to the questions with the students. Ask them why they think this couple chose to appear on camera?

  • After the students have a sense of some of the alleged human rights abuses and the Iraqi influence in Jordan, explain that after three weeks of waiting, Kiley was finally able to obtain a visa and gain entrance to report from Iraq. He was going into Iraq to find the truth about the beheadings, but he was officially there to "cover the news." In the next clip, they will see his experiences of entering the country and they will learn about the ground rules for reporting from a very restricted society. Ask students to watch the segment and record the answers to the questions on the section their student response sheet entitled "Segment 5":
    • Why does Kiley have to be careful?
    • Describe Kiley's hotel room.
    • What organization controls the reporters? Who travels with them? What is his job?
    • Why is Kiley not allowed to work with his independent translator?
    PLAY the video from the image of the reporter in the car, when he says "After a fifteen hour journey we arrive in Baghdad," and STOP the video after the reporter is walking down the street in a blue shirt and says "Uday Hussein had someone's head cut off." Check for comprehension with a brief discussion. What is the climate like in Baghdad? What difficulties does Kiley face in trying to find answers abut the beheadings?

  • After being taken by the Iraqi government to various locations and getting the official stories about many stories, Kiley returns to Baghdad and resumes his task of investigating the human rights abuses he learned of in Jordan. Ask students to watch the segment and record the answers to the questions on the section their student response sheet entitled "Segment 6":
    • Where does Kiley go? What information does he hope to find there?
    • What problems does he have?
    PLAY the video from the image of Baghdad, when Kiley says "Back in Baghdad, we try to check out the stories we heard in Amman." PAUSE the video with the image of Kiley walking down the street in a blue shirt, when he says "it will be a target of American bombardment." Ask students to explain why Kiley is unable to get information.

  • Explain to the students that after having been in Iraq for almost a week, Kiley was unable to speak with any Iraqis about the beheadings because of the strict governmental control of his actions. While covering news stories, he had been continually denied access to people and places, and that people were not allowed to speak freely. He had to turn, therefore, to the Iraqi government for information. Ask your students to watch the segment and record the answers to the questions on the section their student response sheet entitled "Segment 7":
    • Why does Kiley interview the government officials?
    • What is the Imam campaign?
    • Who does he speak to? What government offices are they from?
    • How do the officials answer Kiley's questions?
    • What happened to Kiley's hotel room? What does this action mean?
    • What does the motion-sensitive camera record?
    RESUME the video from the image of the fountains and a statue and the reporter says "It has been almost a week, and it is clear…" STOP the video when the tight shot of a video camera is on the screen and there is music playing. Check for comprehension by discussing the organizer's questions and students' answers to those questions. Describe the official position of the governmental officials when asked about the beheadings? Why were Kiley's room and belongings searched? How do you think this affects his ability to get to the truth about the beheadings?

  • Explain that Kiley was on a trip to the Iraqi city of Basra, was able to confirm some of the allegations that he had heard about. Ask students to watch the segment and answer the questions on their student response sheet's "Segment 8":
    • With whom does Kiley speak in Basra?
    • What happened to this woman's sons?
    • What does this woman say about the beheadings?
    • When he goes to the coffee shop, what does he learn about the beheadings?
    • Why is Kiley shocked?
    PLAY the video from the image of the camera shot looking out of a moving window when Kiley says "We are on our last organized trip." STOP the video when he says "Officially they never happened." Check for comprehension by reviewing the questions with the students. Why did you think this family spoke about the beheadings? Why was Kiley astonished? How is it possible that everyone knows about these beheadings but that the government denies them?

  • Explain that Kiley continues to look for answers and information over the next few days, but he ultimately finds himself in a very serious situation. Ask your students to watch the next segment and answer the questions on their student response sheet's "Segment 9":
    • What does the Ministry of Information tell Kiley? What is their reason for this?
    • Who does Kiley speak to about the beheadings at the juice shop? What does he tell Kiley?
    • Describe the area of the juice shop.
    PLAY the video from shot of the reporter walking through the hall of a building, and him saying "Our questions are getting us into trouble." PAUSE the video after the reporter says "intriguing glimpse inside the Iraqi propaganda machine." (There is an image of a car driving down the road.) Discuss the events of the clip with your students, checking for comprehension. Ask them the following question: Why was Kiley's visa revoked?

    Culminating Activity:

  • Ask students to reflect on what they have learned by naming human rights abuses that may have been committed in Iraq. List these on the board. Compare these with the reasons listed by the students in the introductory activity. Has it changed? Why? Ask the students what they can do to avoid misconceptions and become better informed. How will they know what they hear or read is true?

    Note: As an extension activity, you may find it worthwhile to explore media literacy with your students. Take a look at Thirteen's "Media Literacy Activities" on the IN THE MIX: THE NEW NORMAL Web site.

  • Explain to students that now that they have identified and examined specific problems in Iraq -- human rights abuses and press restrictions -- they will look at how some human rights organizations go about trying to deal with these situations. When the free flow of information is restricted, human rights and journalistic organizations make it their job to investigate problems and get information published for the world to see. Divide students into five groups and ask each group to choose human rights abuses that they would like to investigate further. Divide students into small groups, and assign each group a broad area of human rights organizations - Children's Rights; Women's Rights; Rights of Ethnic Minorities; Social, Cultural and Economic Rights; and Civil and Political Rights. Ask students to go to the "Get Involved" page of the Human Rights 101 Web site at to learn more about human rights organizations. Ask students to choose one organization in their area and research how that organization does its work. Students should research the history of the organization, how they investigate allegations, and what projects they are currently working on, and how people can become involved with these organizations. They will record all of their information on their student response sheets' "Organization Profile" [LINK TO Organizer].

  • After each group has completed their research, they should present their findings to the class. As a large group, discuss the different organizations and the work that they do. What are some of the other human rights abuses that are occurring in the world? What other countries place severe restrictions on the press? What are ways that they can get involved to raise awareness about human rights?


    Cross-Curricular Extensions:

    Women's Rights/ Human Rights
    Iraq is just one of many countries that have violated the human rights of women. Examine other countries in which women do not have the same rights as men do. Use information available from Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, The United Nations, and from women's organizations, such as RAWA (Revolutionary Association of Women in Afghanistan). Create a presentation of what you have learned and share it with your school community.

    World Cultures/Religion
    Iraq is an Islamic country. Research the major principles of Islam, such as important holy texts, people, practices, and holidays. Learn more about the Sunni, Shi'ite, and Kurdish Muslims, and compare and contrast their beliefs and practices. Create a poster or display of what you have learned, and share your findings with your classmates.

    Journalism/Media Criticism
    The Gulf War in 1991 was the first war to be carried live on television. Because of this, there have been many articles and books written about the media's access to and coverage of events before and during the Gulf War. Research the experiences of reporters in Iraq then, and compare and contrast them to the experiences you learned about in this lesson. How have things changed? Why do you think these changes occurred?

    World History/Global Studies
    Iraq is located in the Tigris-Euphrates River Valley, which is considered to be the cradle of civilization. Using what you learned from the introductory activity as a starting point, research this area and its history. What milestones of our civilization occurred there? What were some of the inventions that were created there?

    U.S. History
    Freedom of the press is one of the foundations of our country. Research the first amendment. What does it mean? What is the importance of the first amendment? How has it been interpreted over the years? Why did the founding fathers choose to include it in the bill of rights?

    Current Events
    The United States is still occupying the country of Iraq. Have students collect news articles about what is going on in Iraq today. Have students share what they learn with the class, and create a Current Events collage using articles and images that they have collected.

    Service Learning
    Ask students to use the Human Rights 101 Web site - the Human Rights and You information, the Human Rights Profile, Resources and Get Involved pages -- to determine what human rights work they would most like to become involved in. Ask them to choose three internships to apply for and ask them to explain why those internships are most important to them.

    Community Connections:
    • Contact your local newspaper or television news reporters. Find out how they decide which stories and information to report. Investigate if and when they have had experiences in which they were not free to report accurate, truthful information, and how they dealt with that situation.
    • Contact local humanitarian organizations that assist refugees in this country. Talk to people who have escaped countries that severely limit free speech and reporting, such as Iraq. Try to understand what it is like to live in a country that operates on propaganda and controls the information that people hear. Compare their experiences with your experiences living in the United States.

    Overview | Procedures for Teachers | Organizers for Students