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Thirteen Ed Online
Lesson Plans
Exploring Islamic Lands
Overview Procedures for Teachers Organizers for Students

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


Media Components

Computer Resources:
(The following are our standard recommendations. You may revise this, but please consider using resources that are highly accessible for schools.)
  • Modem: 28.8 Kbps or faster.
  • Browser: Netscape Navigator 3.0 or above or Internet Explorer 3.0 or above.
  • Macintosh computer: System 7.0 or above and at least 16 MB of RAM.
  • IBM-compatible computer: 386 or higher processor with at least 16 MB of RAM, running Windows 3.1. Or, a 486/66 or Pentium with at least 16 MB of RAM, running Windows 95.

Bookmarked sites:

Country Resource Sites
  • Library of Congress Country Study
    This comprehensive, but more advanced site, provides detailed descriptions of cultural, geographic, political, and religious environments of all the Middle Eastern countries.

  • CIA World Factbook 2001
    This site contains basic facts about a wide range of countries. It may be a good supplement to the Library of Congress site.

Students need the following supplies:
  •  Internet access
  •  Relief map materials such as clay, cardboard, markers (optional)

    Introductory Activity:
    Several class periods in addition to pre-activity homework

  • Begin by previewing the lesson. Explain to students that during this lesson they will explore what it's like to be a teenager living today in an Islamic country in the Middle East. They start by gaining background information about the religion and the region, and then they will choose a Middle Eastern country to explore in depth. In the end, they will create a personal narrative of what it's like to live in that country. The narratives should reflect knowledge of the political, historical, and geographical circumstances of their country.

    Over the course of the next few weeks ask students to watch ISLAM: EMPIRE OF FAITH and fill out the Early Islamic Culture Organizer. Check local PBS station listings for broadcast times, or visit the Web site at to order the video or get an overview.

  • During this time you should also assess how much students already know about the Middle East by distributing a blank map of the region (go to blxmiddleeast.htm) and having them write in anything they know about this area on the map.

  • When completed, students should share their maps and notes from the organizer with the class. If students have little knowledge of the region, you may want to have them visit: /ngo/maps/view/images/mideastm.jpg to see a physical map of the area, or or /worldbook/atozgeography/m/360160.html or to get a basic overview of Islam, Arabs, and the Middle East.

    Learning Activities:

    Day 1 - 3

  • Now that students have a solid background on the early growth of Islam, they will explore the current environments of regions covered in the program. Begin by breaking students into separate groups, each studying a different country in the Middle East. You may also want to cover a country with the class as a whole in order to model the methodology.

  • Each group will start their study by documenting the physical characteristics of the current country. Have them create their own relief maps using clay to give them a physical sense of the region. Students should note neighboring countries, the location of major cities, rivers, lakes, bodies of water, deserts, etc. Have them research this by visiting
  • After gathering information about the maps, each group should present their maps to other groups, explaining the major characteristics of their country.

  • Afterwards, ask students what it must be like to live in such an environment. What do they predict might be the advantages of living in this region? What might be some of the problems imposed on the country as a result of the geographic features? Why?

    Day 4 - 6

  • Over the next few days, students will explore the cultural, political and religious background of their countries. Ask students to devise a list of questions they may want to research to determine more about their country. You can start by asking students to pretend that they are new to the United States. What kinds of questions would they ask to find out more about life here? Or, you may require that they find the out the facts listed in the Country Research Organizer. Have students choose a particular aspect within their country to research (like education), and then share with their groups. Students will most likely find more information about their countries by visiting:

    Library of Congress Country Study

    CIA World Factbook 2001

  • You should also recommend that students contact teenagers from their countries by visiting the epals site at: These teens may serve as a valuable source of information regarding teen life and culture in their countries. You should allow several days for research, or you can reduce the time by having a different student from each group research a different aspect of the group's country, and then share what they learned with their peers.

    Culminating Activity/Assessment:

  • Now it's time for students to synthesize what they've learned. After discussing their research findings in groups, hand out the Personal Narrative Organizer. Give students a day or two to complete the narrative. When completed, have students read the narratives to the class. Ask other students to describe what they think that country is like based on the narrative.

    Community Connections:
    Publish the narratives online and invite students from other classes to comment on or add to the narratives.

    Overview | Procedures for Teachers | Organizers for Students