Marieke van Woerkom
what makes them proud about their cultural heritage and/or community
an online video about American Muslims
their knowledge and understanding of Islam and Muslims
their feelings about being treated unfairly
and Emotional Skills
gain self-confidence by recognizing what is good about one's
cultural background and/or community affiliation
their awareness of other cultures/religions
prejudices and stereotypes
empathy for and step into the shoes of Muslim Americans
their awareness of feelings people have about issues of injustice
Ask students in pairs to share something about their cultural
background and/or community affiliation that makes them proud.
a few volunteers to share what makes them proud in the large group.
that there are many things that can make us proud, and should
make us proud, of our cultural background or community. It feels
good to recognize these positive things. Unfortunately we don't
seem to do this enough--especially when it comes to appreciating
other people's culture and community. Think about that as we start
Check Agenda (3 minutes)
Explain that in today's lesson your students will be exploring
their understanding of Islam through a video clip, some small
and large group discussions.
Microlabs - Unfair Treatment (10 min)
In small groups of three or four ask students to discuss a time
when they were treated unfairly. It might be a time when a sibling,
friend or classmate did something that they were wrongly blamed
for. Or perhaps a time when they were treated poorly because of
the way they looked, the way they sounded or the religion they
What did that feel like?
a few volunteers to share their feelings with the large group.
Jot down or summarize the feelings associated with the events
the students describe.
are these feelings different from how it felt when we talked about
things that make us proud of our background or community?
Land Called Paradise (25 min)
In December 2007, over 2,000 American Muslims were asked what
they would wish to say to the rest of the world. Their responses
were recorded in a video called A Land Called Paradise.
students know that you'll be showing them this clip twice. The
first time, ask students to just watch it. The second time ask
them to pay close attention to:
ideas or statements that are new to them
they didn't know about
or statement that might contradict their existing knowledge
or understanding of Islam
watched the clip twice, ask students their thoughts about the
What stood out for them? Why?
there anything that surprised them? Why?
there anything that confused them? Why?
did they learn about American Muslims from the clip?
was this different from what they knew about Islam (the religion)
and Muslims (people who practice the religion) before?
do students think most Americans get their information about
Islam and Muslims?
to your students that around 20% of the world's population is
Muslim, but only about 2% of the American population is Muslim.
Some American Muslims originally came from other countries. Others
were born in the U.S. Some have been Muslim since birth, while
others have become Muslim (converted to Islam) later on in life.
other minority religions and cultures in the US, Islam is often
misunderstood. Since September 11, 2001, and the start of the
global "war on terror," Islam has often been associated
with negative things, frequently because of misunderstanding or
whether your students know of other immigrant groups that have
been associated with negative things in US history and have been
treated poorly as a result?
who have negative associations with Islam are often afraid of
Islam and Muslims. It is for this reason that one of the men in
the clip shows a sign that asks: "Would you be scared if
I moved to your city?" What do you think about this sign?
How do you think the man feels?
holds up a sign that reads: "terrorists hijacked my religion."
What do you think she's referring to? What do you think about
this sign? How do you think she feels?
a boy shows a sign: "I'm human" and then: "I'm
sorry." What do you think about these signs? What do you
think he's sorry about? How do you think he feels?
The clip you watched, A World Called Paradise, ends with the words
"We the people
means all of us." Ask a few volunteers
to explain what that statement refers to. How does the statement
relate to what we discussed in class today?
lesson was written by Marieke van Woerkom for TeachableMoment.Org,
a project of Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility.
your comments. Please email us at email@example.com.
van Woerkom is an educator and trainer who works with Morningside
Center. She has helped young people and adults around the world
learn skills to resolve conflict and foster cross-cultural understanding.