Lesson 5: Religion in the Arab World—Independent research

Lesson Information

About this Lesson:

In this unit, students have explored different ways in which religion is present in the Arab world. In this final lesson, they will use the analytical skills they have developed to research a minority faith community in the Arab world and present it to their peers.

Time

Varies

In this lesson, students will:

  • conduct independent research about a minority religious community in the Arab world and present it to the class.
  • write an essay answering one of the unit’s essential questions.

Key Terms:

  • Alawite: A mystical religious group in Syria, Lebanon, and Israel/Palestine whose beliefs are kept secret.
  • Armenian Christianity: Armenian Christianity is the world’s oldest church and today large populations of Armenian Christians live in Lebanon and Syria.
  • Bahai: A monotheistic religion with roots in Iran that has spread through the Arab world, mostly in Palestine and Egypt.
  • Coptic Christianity: The native Christians of Egypt, Copts make up about 10% of Egypt’s population.
  • Druze: An offshoot of Ismailism, the Druze are a monotheistic ethnoreligious community found in Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan.
  • Judaism: An ancient monotheistic religion with communities throughout the Arab world, including Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, and Iraq.
  • Orthodox Christianity: Orthodox Christianity is found in much of the Arab world, including in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine.
  • Sufism: The mystical branch of Islam

Enduring Understandings

  • Arabs practice a number of religions through widely varied traditions, and some Arabs do not practice a faith.

Curriculum Framing Questions

  • What does religious identity in the Arab World entail on personal and community levels?
  • How does association with a particular religious group inform someone’s power and agency in society?

Learning Objectives

By the end of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • present information about a religious minority in the Arab world.

Assessment & Evaluation of Student Learning:

  • Conduct a thorough presentation of a minority religious community in the Arab world based on personal research.
  • Write an analytical essay considering one of the essential questions from the unit.


Curriculum Standards Information

Reading: Informational Text

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.7 Analyze various accounts of a subject told in different mediums (e.g., a person’s life story in both print and multimedia), determining which details are emphasized in each account.

Writing

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1–3 above.)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.5 Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience. (Editing for conventions should demonstrate command of Language standards 1–3 up to and including grades 9–10 here.)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products, taking advantage of technology’s capacity to link to other information and to display information flexibly and dynamically.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.8 Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the usefulness of each source in answering the research question; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Language

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

History/Social Studies

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.9 Compare and contrast treatments of the same topic in several primary and secondary sources.

Reading: Informational Text

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem.

Writing

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1–3 above.)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.5 Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience. (Editing for conventions should demonstrate command of Language standards 1–3 up to and including grades 11–12 here.)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.8 Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the strengths and limitations of each source in terms of the task, purpose, and audience; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and overreliance on any one source and following a standard format for citation.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Language

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.11-12.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

History/Social Studies

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.8 Evaluate an author’s premises, claims, and evidence by corroborating or challenging them with other information.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.9 Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.


Implementation

Materials Needed:

Independent Research Handout

Implementation Overview:

Click here to download PDF version

1.

Assign students to research a religious minority group in the Arab world. They may choose from the list below:

  • Coptic Christianity
  • Armenian Christianity
  • Orthodox Christianity
  • Judaism
  • Bahai
  • Druze
  • Allowite
  • Sufism

Students should prepare a 7-10 minute digital presentation (powerpoint or other format) that includes the following information about the religious group they’ve selected:

  • Geographical location
  • Principles of the faith
  • Rituals and holidays of the faith
  • Images of practitioners
  • Particular challenges faced by the community and ways in which they attempt to overcome them

Teacher may decide how much time to allot for independent research and whether students conduct research in class or at home

2.

Students present their research to the class.


3.

Following the presentations, bring students together for a discussion. Topics you may want to consider:

  • How does membership in any of these groups impact daily life?
  • Are there shared challenges between many or all of the groups discussed? Why?
  • How do minority groups assert themselves in society? In what ways do they negotiate and contest their minority position? What sort of agency do the minority groups demonstrate?


Homework:

Students will use the information they learned during the week as well as from their independent research to write a five page essay answering one of the questions below:

  • How is religious faith and practice present in the Arab world?
  • What characterizes the relationship between different religious groups in the Arab world?
  • What does religious identity in the Arab world entail on personal and community levels?
  • How does association with a particular religious group inform someone’s power and agency in society?
  • What can we learn about religion in the Arab world from its presence in literature and film?

Supplementary Materials:

Resources about Jews in the Arab World:
JIMENA Experience: This website shares historical information and personal stories about Jews in select Arab countries.