Wednesday, December 20, 2017

"Children of Heaven" and Challenging Muslim Stereotypes

Zahra and Ali from "Children of Heaven" 

Building Background: Iran and Muslim Stereotypes  This school year we have closely examined current events taking place in parts of the Middle East, including Syria, Iraq, and Iran. What we haven't explored enough is our own stereotypes about people from this part of the world. A stereotype is preconceived idea often used to categorize large groups of people. Often when people don't understand certain people they try to classify them, often mistakenly, one way or another. Stereotypes can be dangerous. Today we will begin examining our own stereotypes, while learning about people of the Middle East and the religion of Islam. 

Our focus today is on the people of Iran. Iran is  an important country in the center of the Middle East, and its people have a rich history dating back to ancient times.  

Iran also has a complicated relationship and history with the United States of America. Due to disagreements between the governments of our two countries, tensions exist. The image of the Iranian people that is often portrayed in the media is of a violent people that hate America and wish to do us harm. Images like the one below have been broadcasted on the news for years. If this is the only picture your see of Iranians, it could certainly shape the way you see them. 

Is this image representative of who the people of Iran are and how they feel about Americans?

And to be fair, the Iranian government and media is also guilty of pushing propaganda about America and Americans. As a result, the view of Americans for some Iranians is also likely skewed. How do we overcome these misrepresentations, stereotypes, and propaganda? I believe it starts with understanding our shared humanity. 

Below I have included some images from Humans of Tehran, which is a Facebook page dedicated to capturing the humanity of the people of Tehran, the capital city of Iran. Do the people in these pictures seem that much different from us? Do they change the way you see Muslims and people from the Middle East? 

Finally, watch the short video "Discover Iran in 2 Minutes" and see if you see Iran and its people in a new light.  

Movie: "Children of Heaven"  Now we will watch the film Children of Heaven which tells the heartwarming story of the relationship between a brother and sister from Iran. As you watch, pay attention to both the similarities and differences between your culture compared to that of the people of Iran depicted in the film. Also make note of the central characters' character traits. What human qualities do they exhibit? Finally, consider your own stereotypes you may have had about Muslims and/or people from the Middle East? Has this movie and today's lesson challenged or changed they way you see people who follow the religion of Islam and/or who live in this part of the world? If so, how? You will use the Children of Heaven - Study Guide, which can be found in your Social Studies Google Classroom, to keep track of your notes and ideas. 

Friday, December 15, 2017

Judaism and Chanukah

The Story of Chanukah  As our unit on Judaism and the ancient Hebrews nearing an end, and with the celebration of Chanukah (or Hanukkah) happening now, I thought it would be fitting to learn more about the history and customs related to this important Jewish holiday. To learn more about the story of Chanukah, check out the video below. 

Why do Jewish people celebrate an event that happened so very long ago? Listen as these talented young men explain why through song. 

And in light of our recent poetry unit, what better way to understand the meaning of this important holiday than through a couple of poems. 

Video Treat: "Rugrats Chanukah"  The Rugrats learn about the "The Meaning of Chanukah" in this holiday special.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Ancient Hebrews: The Spread of Judaism (Day 2)

The Diaspora of Jews followed the laws and rituals of Judaism wherever they were.

 Today's Focus Question  How did the influence of Judaism spread across time and place? 

The Spread of Judaism: Reading and Notetaking  Today we will continue to learn about the spread of Judaism, with a special focus on the time of judges and kings, the Diaspora, and the legacy of Judaism. You will be taking notes on these important ideas using the Spread of Judaism - Notetaking Study Guide, which can be found in your Social Studies Google Classroom. You have two different sources available to locate pertinent information. You may utilize the relevant section of your Social Studies textbook here, and/or you may reference the excerpt from your Social Studies workbook below. 

Judges could inspire an army of volunteers.

The time of judges came to an end when a warrior named Saul become king. 
After King Solomon's Death, the kingdom of Israel split into two parts.
After being conquered, many Jews were sent into exile

The synagogue allowed Jews to practice their religion wherever they were in the world. 
Yohann ben Zaccai was important for helping to preserve Jewish teaching and learning. 
Judaism introduced the idea of one God to the world.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Ancient Hebrews: The Spread of Judaism

 Today's Focus Question  How did the influence of Judaism spread across time and place? 

Build Background Knowledge: The Spread of Judaism  Have you ever moved? Do you know anyone who has moved? Did you take your beliefs, thoughts, and memories with you when you moved? Do you think the Jewish people took took their beliefs, thoughts, and memories with them when they moved? Do you think that this is a way in which Judaism spread? Let's start to explore these ideas today. 

The Spread of Judaism: Vocabulary Study  First, we will study the key vocabulary related to the spread of Judaism, using the document The Spread of Judaism - Cognitive Content Dictionary, which can be found in your Social Studies Google ClassroomWe will be using an excerpt from our Social Studies textbook, which has  been attached to your assignment in your Social Studies Google Classroom (and which you can also find here), to help us understand the lesson's key words and concepts. Some images have also been posted below to help you conceptualize these new terms.

Deborah was a judge (and not in courtroom) who inspired an army to win a great battle.

In addition to being a king of the Israelites, David was also the author of many psalms (or religious songs).

There were several times in history in which the Jews rebelled against those that sought to conquer them.

But there were also many times in history in which thew Jews were exiled from their homeland. 

Communities of Jews living away from their homeland made up the Diaspora

The synagogue is where many Jews go to worship God. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Beliefs of Judaism: Paragraph Writing

Beliefs of Judaism Paragraph: Overview  Today our objective is to transform what we have learned about the core beliefs of the religion of Judaism into a well-written and well-organized expository paragraph that demonstrates our developing understanding.

You can find the document Beliefs of Judaism: Expository Paragraph in your Social Studies Google Classroom. The document includes a paragraph graphic organizer and a list of helpful transition words (similar to what you see featured below) to help you with the construction of your paragraph. You will also need to utilize your Basic Beliefs of Judaism - Notetaking Guide as a resource. Today I will model how to use each tool and resource, and show you how to get started on writing your paragraph. A rubric outlining how the paragraph will be assessed can also be found below.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Ancient Hebrews: The Beliefs of Judaism (Day 2)

 Today's Focus Question  What are the basic beliefs of the religion of Judaism?

The Beliefs of Judaism: Guided Reading and Notetaking  Today we are going to learn about three of the core beliefs of the religion of Judaism. As we read, your objective is to synthesize what you learn about each belief from two different sources (the Social Studies textbook and workbook) and take notes on what you find to be most important, using the Basic Beliefs of Judaism - Notetaking Guide (located in your Social Studies Google Classroom). Next week, you will use these notes to construct an explanatory (informational) paragraph about the beliefs of Judaism. 

Source: Ancient Civilizations textbook 

Source: Ancient Civilizations workbook 
Source: Ancient Civilizations textbook 

Source: Ancient Civilizations workbook 
Source: Ancient Civilizations textbook 
Source: Ancient Civilizations workbook