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Lesson One

Lesson Title: An Introduction to Islam and Muhammad
Grade Level: 6-12
Subjects: World History, Language Arts, and Visual Arts
Estimated Time of Completion: 3-4 class periods

I. Instructional Objectives
II. Standards
III. Materials Needed
IV. Procedure
V. Assessment Suggestions
VI. Extensions/Adaptations

  1. Instructional Objectives:
    • Students will have the opportunity to compare the three main monotheistic belief systems and create a chart showing their findings.
    • Students will have the opportunity to expand their vocabulary as it relates to The Growth of Islam and Muhammad.
    • tudents will have the opportunity to create a parallel timeline comparing major events in Muhammad's life and events taking place in another part of the world. (see example parallel timeline)
    • Students will have the opportunity to share their findings with their classmates.

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  3. Standards
    • This lesson correlates to the following national standards for social studies, language arts, and visual arts, established by the Mid-continent research Regional Education Lab:
    World History:
    • Understands the spread of Islam in Southwest Asia and the Mediterranean region
    • Understands the influence of Islamic ideas and practices on other cultures and social behavior
    • Understands the effect of geography on different groups and their trade practices
    • Understands the significance of Baghdad
    • Understands how the Muslims spread Islamic beliefs and established their empire
    • Understands significant aspects of Islamic civilization
    • Understands challenges to Muslim civilization
    Language Arts:
    • Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process
    • Gathers and uses information for research purposes
    • Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes
    • Uses viewing skills and strategies to understand and interpret visual media
    Visual Arts:
    • Knows how to use structures and functions of art
    • Understands the visual arts in relation to history and cultures

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  5. Materials Needed:
  6. Procedures:
    This lesson is based on Video One (The Messenger) of the PBS video series Islam: Empire of Faith. (See adaptation section at the end of the lesson for suggestions if the video is not available.) Students will have the opportunity to compare the major monotheistic belief systems of the world, create vocabulary sheets that will help them understand the new vocabulary they will be introduced to in this unit, and prepare a parallel timeline showing events in the Arabian peninsula region compared to other regions.
    1. Write the following excerpt from the video on the board: "For the west, much of the history of Islam has been obscured behind a veil of fear and misunderstanding." (time cue 3:00 from video)
    2. Discuss with students what they think this statement means. (It should bring up quite a bit of discussion relating to belief systems.) As students are responding, ask how many students are familiar with the word Islam and perhaps its meaning (literal meaning is Peace, surrender of one's will to God). Ask students about the facts and misconceptions they have as they relate to this word.
    3. This icebreaking discussion will lead into your handing out the worksheet An Introduction to Monotheistic Belief Systems. Explain to students that over the next few days you will be introducing them to the history of Islam, and you want them to gain a basic understanding of terms they may not be familiar with. You will do this by helping them fill in the sheet they are now receiving, but also a vocabulary worksheet they will be completing later on.
    4. Give students approximately five minutes to fill in worksheet by themselves or in small groups.
    5. Review and discuss the handout with students, making sure they have correct information in appropriate places. (This is not graded, but used for basic knowledge building.) Use the teacher's key for correct responses.
    6. Introduce students to "The Messenger," Part 1 of the video Islam: Empire of Faith. Let them know that this video will introduce them to one of the most influential individuals in history, Muhammad. After viewing the video, they will complete a vocabulary sheet that will introduce them to terms associated with Islam, and will create a parallel timeline showing events from Muhammad's life, and events that were taking place at the same time in other areas of the world. Suggest they take notes as they watch the video.
    7. You may want to write the following time cues on the board to help them as they watch view the video. These excerpts should help students generate ideas of what to take notes on as they relate to Muhammad. They should also jot down words that are new to them, and events that relate to the theme of the lesson; The Growth of Islam. 5:00 Muhammad is born
      6:01 Age 6 events
      12:30 Muhammad as a merchant
      13:40 Muhammad (some characteristics)
      15:10 Visions
      16:40 His message
      18:45 Voice of a poet, or voice of God?
      19:55 Skeptics
      23:50 Following increases
      24:00 Tribal leaders response to Muhammad's message
      25:25 How are Muhammad's followers treated
      25:45 Muhammad's personal losses
      26:10 Muhammad asked to negotiate
      27:50 A new calendar
      28:20 Treatment of those with other beliefs
      30:00 Muhammad's revelation relating to prayer (where to face)
      31:30 Enemies join forces against Muslims
      33:55 Tide of battles turn in favor of Muslims
      36:25 Muhammad's troops after victory circle the Kaaba
      37:30 Idols destroyed in Kaaba-response by Bedouin's
      38:55 Muhammad dies
      39:48 Who will succeed Muhammad?
      40:45 Growth of Islam after Muhammad
    8. Show the video. You may want to stop at various points to discuss and ask if there are any questions. This will also allow students time to jot notes down during discussion time.
    9. After the video, debrief. Ask the students what they learned. Were there any misconceptions they had about the Islam that were cleared up by viewing this video? Ask for some samples of words they were introduced to that they had not heard before. Jot them down on the board.
    10. Hand out a copy of the vocabulary sheet. Allow students time to try and fill it in on their own, then allow use of a dictionary. You may want to have students work on this in pairs.
    11. After students have had time to complete the worksheet, review it with them. (You should determine if you want this to be a graded assignment or not.)
    12. Now that students have had the opportunity to gain general background through the introduction of the worksheets and video, hand out the parallel timeline assignment.
    13. 13. Instruct students that this assignment is to help them gain an understanding of not only what was happening during Muhammad's life in Arabian Peninsula, but also what was happening at the same time in other geographic regions around the world.
    14. Review the Parallel Timeline Requirement Sheet.
    15. Allow students time to research using the Internet, library resources, and possibly viewing the video in small groups for additional information and note taking.
    16. After students have completed the Parallel Timeline ask for volunteers to present their findings.

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    18. Assessment Recommendations:
    19. Extensions/Adaptations:
      • For upper level grades, you may want students to write a short biography of Muhammad in addition to creating a timeline.
      • For lower level grades or special needs students, you can pair students together to make this a partner or small group project. You can also adapt the number of required entries on the timeline.
      • If your classroom does not have access to the video, use this site and other Web sites to gain a general understanding of Muhammad's life and work, along with information relating to the rise of Islam.


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