The Choices Blog

History and Current Issues for the Classroom

Author: Jillian Turbitt (page 3 of 4)

Meet the Choices Staff: Andy

Andy-Curriculum Development Director

Tell Us a little about yourself & your background.

I’ve lived in Rhode Island for the last eighteen years. I love the history of the state and the value that people here put on preserving and living amidst history. I live in a very old house (built in 1790) in Pawtuxet Village. Pawtuxet Village was the sight of a little-known, but according to Rhode Islanders—very significant—moment of armed resistance against Britain prior the Revolutionary War. The burning of the HMS Gaspee is celebrated with great enthusiasm by many thousands of Rhode Islanders every June. It all happens right down the street from me.

Being in interesting places has definitely stimulated my interest in history and international issues. I’ve had the privilege to live and work in several countries. For example, I spent time in the Soviet Union as it moved from perestroika to unraveling and witnessed some incredible things. I taught high school in Brazil from 1990-1992. These places and others created an interest in understanding the dynamics of those societies, which eventually led me to grad school and on to Choices.


What is your favorite Choices Curriculum Unit? Why?

My favorite is usually whatever we are working on revising or creating. The information is exciting and engaging and we are in contact with scholars who are excited about the topic too. That said, I am proud of materials that introduce new interpretations of history, provide access to topics not commonly covered, or help students wrestle with all sides of complex contemporary issues.


Tell us something interesting about yourself?

I worked as a maple sugarer in Vermont for a few seasons. In addition to hauling sap out of the woods, my job was to keep the fire stoked with the right balance of four-feet pieces of hard and soft cordwood. Hot maple syrup and sour dill pickles are a shockingly unexpected tasty combination.


What is the best part about working on the Choices Staff?

My colleagues are all super talented and committed to collaboration. Fortunately, they all like a good laugh as well.


If you could trade jobs with any other person on the Choices Staff who would it be and why?

I don’t think I have the talent to do what other people on staff do. I really enjoy what I do and wouldn’t want to trade.


What is your favorite period in history/Topic in social studies?

I am really interested in those moments when a society experiences a profound shift or upheaval. Revolts and rebellions, from the individual to the societal level, interest me. In addition, I also like drilling down to understand the experiences of non-elite members of a society


What are you working on now?

My writing colleagues and I are working on five major projects rights now. We are revising Russia’s Transformation to include the effect of Putin’s return to the presidency. We are well into a new curriculum on decolonization in Africa that will examine case studies in Ghana, Algeria, Kenya, and Congo. We are nearly finished with a major revision of our materials on Indian Independence that will reflect new scholarship on the topic. These three are all likely to be done by summer 2013. These two next projects will take a little longer. We are developing a new curriculum on contemporary Turkey. Finally, we working on a major update of our curriculum on American Revolution and Constitution. This too will reflect new scholarship and incorporate more social history.


What is the most interesting part of the curriculum design process?

There are lots of phases that are interesting and even fun. Collaborating with a scholar and hearing their views of what’s essential to cover provides shape to the research we do. Researching and discovering important and new interpretations of events is great, especially as all of us enjoy sharing this kind of thing with each other. We all sit in the same room and it’s not unusual to exclaim aloud about a new discovery or idea. As we do our research, collect sources, produce the Scholars Online videos, and develop the student text, there are some interesting moments when the pieces of the puzzle begin to fit together. This is when there is a high degree of collaboration and vetting of ideas. It’s pretty interesting most of the time.

Meet the Choices Staff – Mimi

Mimi – Professional Development Director

Tell Us a little about yourself & your background.

I grew up in New Jersey and attended undergraduate school there, before moving to New England for graduate school. Since 3rd grade, I have always loved social studies, maps, and international travel. No one else in my family had or has any interest in these things — they are not sure where I came from!

My Masters degree is in International Development, but by the time I completed the program I realized I wanted to work in the U.S. changing people’s perceptions (or lack of) of the rest of the world, as opposed to working oversees. I feel grateful to have work that allows me to read and think about international topics.

I was also lucky enough to travel quite a bit before starting a family,

and I think that has also helped me feel well-prepared for my work.


What goes into planning a summer institute?

Lots! I begin by searching for and securing scholars who enjoy working with educators and can present their expertise in a manner that is accessible and interesting to teachers who work with younger students. I also need to work with a few Teaching Fellows from previous years who can help me develop and present the curriculum piece of the Institute.

It is important to select a good mix of educators who will “gel” during the week. We look for a diverse group in terms of school setting, number of years teaching, familiarity with Choices, etc. This is both an art and a science. We invest significant time and resources into the Institute, so we pay careful attention to each application we receive. I also strive to be clear about the outreach requirement of the Institute. While we want participants to experience a top-notch, program that is valuable for their own professional development — and they do — the leadership institute is just the first component of our Teaching Fellows program. Participants need to take what they have learned at the institute and share it with other educators. I hope that they want to do this not just because we require it, but because it is ultimately up to educators themselves to keep the social studies profession vibrant and strong by peer sharing of rich, effective social studies materials and strategies.

Luckily, planning the annual institute is a team effort. I turn to the writing staff for ideas on scholars, and our administrative manager handles the institute logistics. The director helps with the applicant selection process, and our social media/web person covers the publicity for the Institute. Working as a team, we are able to offer teachers an outstanding experience!


What is your favorite Choices Curriculum Unit? Why?

That is an impossible question to answer. Maybe Competing Visions of Human Rights, because the topic is so important and it can fit in every classroom. I also love that unit because it does such a great job of taking a complicated topic and making it accessible to students without trivializing it. Hmmm that would probably describe all of out units. The U.S. in Afghanistan is also a favorite because I have always had Afghanistan on my list bucket list of places to explore. Our Civil Rights unit is another favorite, because I am learning things from that unit that I never ever learned in school.


Tell us something interesting about yourself?

  1. I have two sons, 10 and 15, that I try Choices materials out on. Anything less than an A in social studies gets them in trouble, as does any peep about social studies being “boring.” I’m pretty sure their teachers are glad when they finish the class and move on to the next teacher…
  2. I think Providence is one of the greatest cities in the world, and if I didn’t work for Choices I might have to send my resume to the tourism department at Providence city hall.
  3. The worst job I ever had was in high school when I worked at a hard-boiled egg factory.

What is the best part about working on the Choices Staff?

In addition to the fact that I believe 110% in what we do, I like that we support each other. We gave our Director a surprise Apple Party, complete with a cake in the shape of an apple, when she was working hard to get our materials in iTunes. We had a surprise chocolate party for our front office person because…. well just because she loves chocolate and works hard to keep the front office humming. But beyond the parties, there is an understanding that everyone works hard, and we work as a real team. I can go to anyone and say “I am stuck on this, what do you think?” and I will get the feedback I need. I also appreciate that I can float a new idea, get feedback, and make it happen — such as our geography institute. Nobody ever says ”Oh we don’t do that here!”


If you could trade jobs with any other person on the Choices Staff who would it be and why?

I actually love my job, and I don’t think I’d want anyone else’s.


What is your favorite period in history/Topic in social studies?

My favorite topic in social studies would have to be geography, and I’d have to say the Islamic world. Seriously, how could anyone not love geography?


What are you working on now?

I am excited to be working on our geography institute that is coming up in June. This is the first time that Choices is offering a program specifically for this audience. Our materials are perfect for a geography teacher who is interested in helping students develop geographic questions and analyze current issues with a geographic lens. But at first glance, this fit may not be apparent. I look forward to introducing our materials to geography teachers and helping them think about ways to use our approach to promote geographic literacy.


Evolution of the Recent Conflict in Syria

Two years after popular demonstrations began, an estimated 70,000 Syrians have died and several million more have been displaced from their homes. As Brown University Professor Beshara Doumani remarks, “The optimism of the Arab Spring…has been replaced by the horror of protracted military conflict.” In this interview from the Watson Institute for International Studies, Professor Beshara Doumani, director of the Middle East Studies Program at Brown University, discusses the conflict with Emerson University Professor Yasser Munif.

Professor Munif explores the history of Syria in the region and the evolution of the recent conflict. Munif maps out major domestic and international players, explores the potential for political change, and envisions what conditions might bring about an end to the conflict. We recommend this interview for teachers, or advanced students that are familiar with the current state of affairs in Syria.

For a free online lesson that challenges students to explore the perspectives of domestic and international actors in the conflict, see The Conflict in Syria.

For more in-depth materials on the history of the region and the emergence of the Arab Spring, see The Middle East in Transition: Questions for U.S. Policy.

Beshara Doumani is a faculty fellow at the Watson Institute for International Studies and director of the Middle East Studies program.


Making the Most of iBook’s Features in the Classroom

By Felicia Ostrom, Choices Teaching Fellow

I love the Choices approach to teaching historical and current events, and I am so excited about the new iBooks format.  Whether you are a 1:1 iPad school, are working out of a cart of iPads, or just have a handful to use in your classroom, there are so many ways to use the iBooks Textbooks to make the material more engaging.  I’m excited to share with you some of my favorite features of the iBooks Textbooks, and some ideas for making the most of the features in your classroom.

Embedded Scholars Videos

One of the great resources of the Choices program is the Scholars Online videos.  Whether you show them in your classroom or post a link on your website for students to access, we know that they are a valuable teaching tool.  However, the videos are short and depending on when students access them, may be removed from the content.  With the iBooks Textbooks, the corresponding scholars videos are embedded in the text, along with a focus question.  This allows the students to view the video as they are reading the related material.  I believe this helps enhance the student text, and allows the students to establish connections and relevance between the text and the video.


Dictionary and Web Search

The Choices text is written at a high level, and probably contains at least a few terms with which students are unfamiliar.  The dictionary feature allows them to define a term with one click, making them much more likely to seek the meaning of a word.  This feature also allows the reader to immediately look up the term on Wikipedia or takes them to general web search results.  These tools are especially helpful if the students is seeking the meaning of a broad term, historical event or period, or person.


Media Galleries

Some students may be likely to skip the pictures in text, but I find students less likely to skip over pictures when they are “clickable” (let’s face it, students love to click and touch with technology).  The iBook version of Choices curriculum contains media galleries that allow the students to view a series of images.  For example, in the Human Rights iBook there is an image gallery of human rights throughout history.  This series of four images tells a story, and could be the source of great classroom conversation.  This may have been something an individual teacher would have had to compile in the past, but now Choices has it put together for you.


Text Selection Features

These are my very favorite aspects of using iBooks Textbooks in the classroom!  With the text selection and highlight features, students can use these tools in a variety of ways.  Highlighting is a simple feature and it is not unique to iPads, but it is a valuable tool for helping students to be active, engaged readers.  Some ideas for using the highlight feature:

  • If your students are working off an iPad cart, and you have multiple sections using the iBooks Textbooks, the highlight feature can be a tool to encourage collaboration between sections.  Assign a different color to each section.  Ask students to highlight sentences/phrases that they think are most important, and leave a note about the importance of what they highlighted or further questions.  Students get excited to see what the other students highlighted and wrote, and it is all entirely based on the text.  You can have each section comment on whether they agree or disagree with the other students’ highlighting, and have them write to each other. 
  • For Part III of the iBook, the case studies, have students choose two colors.  One color is for arguments in favor of the focus question and one color is for arguments against the focus question.  As students read the summary and primary documents associated with the case study, they can highlight important information to help form an opinion on the focus question.
  • Part IV of the iBook is the options portion.  Students can use the highlight and study card feature to help with their oral presentations.  We want our students to reference the text and have opinions rooted in fact.  This feature allows the students to highlight a quote in the text and then summarize it in their own words, write a question, or write an argument based off the quote.  It will then be generated as a study card with the text quote on one side, and the student’s note on the other side.  These digital cards will help the students during the role play.


Resources for Activities


Chapter 6 of the iBook contains many of the documents included in the Teacher Resource Book.  Your students will not require hard copies of the documents to use with the iBook material, and you will save yourself a trip to the copier.  I love that all the information is in one place, so students can combine their notes and study cards for the different sections.

The Choices iBooks Textbooks combine great features with the wonderful curriculum we’ve come to expect from Choices.  Your students will benefit and have fun learning with this interactive resource.

Teaching Human Rights in a World Affairs Course

by Mike Gleason, Westerly High School, RI

This past semester I used the Choices Program Competing Visions of Human Rights: Questions for U.S. Policy unit in my World Affairs class. This unit on its own is outstanding, especially the section on the history of human rights.  Another noteworthy activity is having the students define human rights and brainstorm a list of natural rights inherent to all humans. This led to much thought-provoking conversation among the students.

As part of the unit I used the teacher modules and short video clips from the PBS Documentary “Half the Sky“. This traces women’s oppression around the globe and was absolutely fascinating viewing for the students. The website for the documentary includes a viewing guide and lesson plans.  This documentary created student interest in the topic and when we role-played the options for the Choices unit, the students made reference of and connections to the documentary.  Using these two resources together strengthened the Choices unit and made it more “real” for the students.  They had a visual to the suffering and plight of women around the globe and then connected it to the U.S. role in regards to human rights policy.  At the end of the unit, students’ comments on the impact this unit had on them confirmed my observation that using these two resources together deepens the learning.

Teaching Human Rights: Sudan, Syria, and R2P

Josie Perry, Choices Teaching Fellow
Rising Sun High School-North East, MD

As I began teaching the Competing Visions on Human Rights: Questions for US Policy unit, I wanted to pre-assess my students’ opinions on US involvement in international affairs, so I had my students watch The Devil Came on Horseback.  The students were fascinated by the documentary because most of them were unaware of the genocide happening in Sudan.  After they viewed the documentary, we had a Touchstones discussion focusing on international intervention in human rights violations.  Touchstones is a discussion format that my district is implementing in all content areas.  It is based on the students reading a text and then discussing a central question.  It is a student-driven activity where the teacher assumes the role of observer.  My initial question was:

If you see someone mistreating another person, how do you respond:

  1. Walk away because it’s none of my business.
  2. Get someone to help me diffuse the situation between the two people.
  3. Step in and help only if I know the person who is being mistreated.
  4. Step in and help the person who is being mistreated because it is the right thing to do.


Students answered the initial question independently and then shared their responses in small groups.  Then, as a class, we read “This I Believe” by Sunita, who was an aid worker in Sudan.  In this piece, Sunita proposes that all people have a responsibility to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, which is a similar message to Brian Steidle’s in The Devil Came on Horseback.  The students had many questions about the situation in Sudan, so it was difficult for me to act as only an observer for this discussion.  I was amazed at the students’ poignant thoughts on the topic of intervention!  Students were able to see the challenges of any type of intervention and how complex international events can be in today’s globalized world.

I ended the unit by revisiting the question of international intervention in human rights issues and we focused on the current situation in Syria.  I used the AP interactive on Syria and BBC News Syria: The Story of the Conflict sites to provide my students with the background on the conflict.  Then we read “Responsibility to Protect: The Moral Imperative to Intervene in Syria” by James P. Rudolph and discussed R2P within the context of the Syrian situation.  The students’ discussions were so rich and meaningful.  It was one of those days that reminded me why I chose teaching!  Throughout the unit, students gained a greater understanding of the complexity of human rights and the existing paradox in US human rights policy.


Sunita. “This I Believe.” This I Believe RSS. N.p., 4 Sept. 2006. Web. 15 Feb. 2013.

Rudolph, James P. “‘Responsibility to Protect’: The Moral Imperative to Intervene in…” Christian Science Monitor. 08 Mar 2012: n.p. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 03 Mar 2013.

Competing Visions on Human Rights: Questions for US Policy is available from The Choices Program website. It is also available as a Free iBooks Textbook from the iBookstore.

Expanding on Westward Expansion

By Guest Blogger Brian Schum, Choices Teaching Fellow

My favorite Choices unit to use is Westward Expansion: A New History because it does such a good job of making the complex relationships that existed on shifting peripherals of expansion so tangible to students. While the case study approach is excellent for diving deep into the topic, I always stress about providing enough “coverage” for the rest of the standards involved in the topic. This year I balanced the need for both while incorporating technology and project based learning.

I took an approach to the unit where I started with a very broad overview of the topic so that students developed an idea of how all the events were connected. Instead of lecturing I had students complete a Western Expansion Webquest that was created using Thinglink which allows the user to add interactive links and notations to pictures. I added some interesting sources (they enjoyed the Donner Party video the most) to get students curious about the topic and to spark some questions. I also purposely added biased depictions of Native Americans to fuel our later conversations about historical perspective. Students accessed the webquest and accompanying webquest questions through Edmodo.

Once students completed the webquest we were able to start having discussions and they SOAPed the American Progress picture based on what they had learned. From there we worked through the Choices lessons including the analysis of the Kiowas Meet Smallpox myth, Maps from Four Perspectives, and O’odham Calendar Sticks to slowly narrow our focus on southern Arizona before culminating in the role play activity.

The Choices unit contains an interesting project idea for designing an exhibit for a visitor center that explains the different perspectives that led to conflict in southern Arizona. However, I wanted my students to take the history skills they had practiced and apply them while also addressing historical perspective in the broader picture of other Westward Expansion events. I designed a new Western Expansion Exhibit Project (note the embedded hyperlinks with individual project instructions) that allowed students to have a great deal of choice in the topics and project types that they completed to showcase their learning.

Students did an amazing job creating interesting projects and wound up being able to share them with an authentic audience of fellow middle school students from Australia that we communicated with through Edmodo. This also led to some further discussion and comparisons between the “silent histories” of Native Americans and the aboriginal people of Australia.

Westward Expansion: A New History is available from The Choices Program website. It is also available as an iBooks Textbook from the iBookstore.

Globalization in a Modern Asian Experience Class

by Guest Blogger Sophia Bae, Syosset High School

Robert Scoble

One of the main topics I address in my Modern Asian Experience class is globalization and the interconnectedness of the world. It is a topic of relevance that has many manifestations – whether we are discussing the explosive popularity of Psy’s Gangnam Style, comparing the benefits and drawbacks of our education systems in relation to China and Japan, or exploring the disappearance of a manufacturing base in America, in order to reflect on our societal and economic interdependence.

The Choices Unit, International Trade: Competition and Cooperation in a Globalized World, provides substance and enrichment to our class discussions. The student readings provide a valuable background in setting up the historical context of trade and globalization as well as introduce key definitions of important economic terms such as comparative advantage, protectionism, and World Trade Organization (WTO), etc.

For this unit, I use Mardi Gras, Made in China, a 2006 documentary by David Redmon that follows the life-cycle of Mardi-Gras beads from a small factory in Fuzhou, China to Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

I also utilize Thomas Friedman’s 2004 documentary, The Other Side of Outsourcing, which explores the impact of globalization in India. In addition, the class examines numerous current events articles that address issues of labor in the United States and China, as well as controversies involving working conditions at Foxconn, which manufacture many familiar products such as iphones and ipads. The activities and role-playing options from the Choices Unit is an excellent way to engage in an in-depth discussion of the role of values in creating economic policies, whether from a U.S. perspective or the perspective of other countries.

While I used the presentation of options suggested by the Choices unit, I created my own approach to option 5. For the concluding activity, the students work in small groups with the goal of producing an agreed upon option 5. This exercise requires them to actively articulate their key values and use their negotiation skills while encouraging students to reflect on labor laws and policies regarding corporate and individual responsibilities. It also allows the groups to recognize the limitations of what America as a single nation can do for other countries. Inevitably, the recognition of these limitations promotes discussions about national sovereignty and the need for workers in other countries to resolve their own problems. What I find particularly valuable about these discussions is that they become a concrete way for a student to argue his/her stance on economic and philosophical perspective of positive sum vs. zero sum game.

While this unit was used in my senior elective in regards to contemporary issues in Asia, I was also able to apply the assignment as part of an election project in my 9th grade AP World class that investigated the presidential candidates’ positions on economic and political issues. Furthermore, my colleagues plan to incorporate the materials in their senior economics classes, Economics of Inequality and AP Microeconomics

International Trade: Competition and Cooperation in a Globalized World is available from The Choices Program website. It is also available as an iBooks Textbook from the iBookstore.

Using Infographics for Policy Deliberation on Afghanistan

by Amy Sanders
Yarmouth ME High School Teacher & Choices Teaching Fellow

Infographic 5 © Newsweek

I incorporate the CHOICES curriculum, The United States in Afghanistan, into my Middle East Studies course. The curriculum is an excellent resource that provides helpful information about Afghanistan’s history, geography, and people, and is the framework around which I build our study of Afghanistan.

When teaching CHOICES units, I often modify the policy deliberation into two distinct phases: first, I have students share key points related to their policy options; second, I move into a “fishbowl” discussion to deliberate the pros and cons of the policy options.

In the past, when teaching the CHOICES unit about the US Invasion of Iraq, I located data that the US Department of Defense reported to Congress. Before we began policy deliberations, I would project some of the data from these reports (which included, for example, graphs of weekly security incidents or percentage of Iraqis with electricity). I would ask students to sit with members of their policy option group and to confer and take notes about how each graph/chart related to their policy option. When we began the fishbowl deliberation, I had color copies of the data available in the center of the table. Students would reach for a relevant graph or chart to back up a point they wanted to make. This method encouraged students to incorporate additional relevant, current evidence into the deliberation.

I wanted to try something similar for our policy deliberation on Afghanistan, and this time asked students to analyze infographics related to the war in Afghanistan. I created a handout introducing students to infographics (which includes an analysis sheet). Students divided into small groups, with each group analyzing one infographic. I used the infographics from the links below:

Infographic 1 – The White House – Troop Levels in Afghanistan and Iraq

Infographic 2 – Internews – Violence Against Journalists in Afghanistan

Infographic 3 – Asia Foundation – Visualizing Afghanistan: A Survey of the Afghan People

Infographic 4 – – Civilian Casualties in Afghanistan

Infographic 5 – Newsweek – Where’s the Money Going in Afghanistan?

Infographic 6 – US Action  – Ten Years of War in Afghanistan: Bridges NOT Bombs!

Infographic 7 – National Post (Canada) – Blood and Treasure

Infographic 8 – New York Times – Indicators of Worsening Security Situation in Afghanistan

Students rotated the writing responsibility in their infographic analysis and recorded interesting insights and thoughtful questions – including about media bias. Small groups then shared their analysis with the whole group; as teams presented, students within policy option groups conferred about how the data related to their policy option.

Overall, student feedback about the lesson was positive, including these comments:

“Visuals stick in the brain better.”

“This activity gave me a new way to think about data and a new outlook on the war.”

“It made all of the data and numbers relative, which made me better understand the implications of the war.”

“I saw trends that I hadn’t really thought about before.”

“Some of the infographics broke down abstract numbers and helped me to relate to them.”

“The infographics we looked at brought different perspectives and showed how you can manipulate data and numbers to make a point.”

“The infographic about the danger in Afghanistan helped me to see the progression of danger very clearly. It helped me to see visually that conditions there have not necessarily gotten better even after 10+ years of war.”

“This data helped me to better understand and reinforced a lot of what we already learned from the [CHOICES] curriculum.”

“I’d never really thought about how many civilians in Afghanistan have been killed by insurgents vs. the US military. The data showed that far more have died at the hands of insurgents. That was eye opening.”

Immersed in a media-rich world, students are drawn to visualizations of data, and infographics give us new ways to think about and understand information. I believe it’s important for educators to help students both to make connections to their prior learning and to analyze and challenge the information presented in infographics. Students’ analysis of infographics tied into the CHOICES curriculum on Afghanistan and helped extend student learning. It was fun and engaging too… a win/win for my students.

The United States in Afghanistan is available from The Choices Program website. It is also available as an iBooks Textbook from the iBookstore.

Teaching the U.S. Role in the Middle East in 11th & 12th Grade Social Problems

DoD photo by Sgt. KimberlyJohnson, U.S. Army

By Guest Blogger Hayley Vatch

Choices Teaching Fellow

The U.S. role in the Middle East is a surprisingly popular topic of interest for students in my 11th and 12th grade Social Problems class.  Although the class is focused on U.S. domestic social issues such as poverty and racism, I also make time to address more global issues such as the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the refugees who have left these countries.  Studying the U.S. presence in Iraq and Afghanistan is not only important for my U.S.-born students with relatives or friends who serve in the military, but also for the high population of students at my school who are refugees.  The public high school where I teach in Denver, Colorado has students from over 40 countries, with the second-largest population being from Iraq (Mexico is first), so I mainly focus on the U.S. in Iraq in my teaching.

Since my Social Problems course is only a semester, there is limited time to delve into a topic as complex as the U.S. presence in the Middle East.  Below is a fairly flexible plan that I have used the past two semesters of this course.  Combining Choices’ Teaching with the News resources, the Choices unit A Global Controversy: The US Invasion of Iraq with a National Public Radio audio clip, a Veteran guest speaker, and information from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees makes for a concise but informative, well-rounded, and thought-provoking study of the U.S .in Iraq.

Days 1-2 – Essential Question: Where is Iraq and who are its people?

Resources: As a warm-up, students create a KWL chart for the U.S. war in Iraq.  At this time they complete on the “Know” and “Want to Know” sections.  The “Learned” section is completed at the end of the unit. A Global Controversy: The US Invasion of Iraq – Student Book p. 2-13, Teacher Resource Book p. 6-7 (Part I reading and study guide questions)

Days 2-3 – Essential Question: Who was Saddam Hussein and what was Iraq like before the U.S. invasion?

Resources: A Global Controversy: The US Invasion of Iraq – Student Book p. 14-25, Teacher Resource Book p. 29-30 (Part II reading and study guide questions)

Day 4 – Essential Question: Why did the U.S. invade Iraq?  How does the war in Iraq affect Iraqi people and U.S. military?

Guest speaker: I use a good friend who served in Iraq in 2004 and again in 2007 with the U.S. Marine Corps.  I have my students write down at least one question that they would like the speaker to address.  I give the questions to the speaker a day ahead of time to give him an idea of what the students know and might not know.  Students’ homework is to write a reflection on what they learned from the speaker.

Day 5 – Essential Question: What are the social, political, economic, and human costs of war?

Resources: Teaching With the News lesson The Cost of War. I print out the appropriate reading from the web site and give each group of 3-4 students the graphic organizer handout along with one of the three web site readings.  They complete their own portion of the graphic organizer using the reading, and then we share our notes as a class.  I also always show the Scholars Online video from the lesson plan entitled “Why is it important for high school students to understand the costs of the United States’ wars?”  Students answer this question using information from the video as well as their own opinions as their exit assignment for the day.

Day 6 – Essential Question: What effect has war had on the civilians of Iraq, particularly those who have been displaced by the war?  What is the refugee experience in America like for Iraqi refugees?

Online Resources:

UNHCR data and summary of Iraq’s refugees

NPR audio clip about the struggles of refugees in America

Day 7 – Essential Question: How do people of various backgrounds perceive and experience the U.S. war in Iraq?

Resources: A Global Controversy: The US Invasion of Iraq– Blogging Iraq activity found on p. 55-59 of the Teacher Resource Book

Complete the “Learned” section of the KWL chart as an exit assignment.

A Global Controversy: The U.S. Invasion of Iraq is available from The Choices Program website. It is also available as an iBooks Textbook from the iBookstore.


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