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Home Classroom Resources Lesson Plans

Lesson Plan

Cultural Connections and Writing for Change

E-mail / Share / Print This Page / Print All Materials (Note: Handouts must be printed separately)

 
Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Five 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Gloria Reading

Edwardsville, Illinois

Michael Rockwell

Edwardsville, Illinois

Publisher

International Reading Association

 

Materials and Technology

Student Interactives

Printouts

Websites

Preparation

 

MATERIALS AND TECHNOLOGY

  • One or more copies of Sitti's Secrets by Naomi Shihab Nye (Aladdin, 1997)

  • One or more copies of Alia's Mission: Saving the Books of Iraq by Mark Alan Stamaty (Dragonfly, 2010; optional)

  • One or more copies of The Librarian of Basra: A True Story From Iraq by Jeanette Winter (Harcourt, 2005; optional)

  • One or more copies of Sami and the Time of the Troubles by Florence Parry Heide and Judith Heide Gilliland (Sandpiper, 1995; optional)

  • Chart paper

  • Envelopes and stamps

  • Computers with Internet access

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STUDENT INTERACTIVES

Letter Generator

Grades   K – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Writing & Publishing Prose

Letter Generator

The Letter Generator is a useful tool for students to learn the parts of a business or friendly letter and then compose and print letters for both styles of correspondence.

 

Venn Diagram

Grades   K – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Organizing & Summarizing

Venn Diagram

This interactive tool allows students to create Venn diagrams that contain two or three overlapping circles, enabling them to organize their information logically.

 

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PRINTOUTS

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WEBSITES

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PREPARATION

1. Obtain and familiarize yourself with the book Sitti's Secrets by Naomi Shihab Nye. In this book, an Arab-American girl named Mona visits her grandmother in the West Bank. Although the two do not speak the same language, Mona discovers many connections. When she returns home, she writes a letter to the president encouraging world peace.

If Sitti's Secrets is not available, this lesson could be adapted to other children's books set in the Arab world. Suggestions include but are not limited to:
  • Alia's Mission: Saving the Books of Iraq by Mark Alan Stamaty (Knopf, 2004). This graphic novel tells the story of Alia, an Iraqi librarian, who knows that the library which houses thousands of irreplaceable books will become a military target. She begs the local authorities to intervene and protect the books, but they will not. Ultimately she and her neighbors smuggle over 30,000 books to safety.

  • The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq by Jeanette Winter (Harcourt, 2005). The same story as in Alia's Mission, but using simpler vocabulary.

  • Sami and the Time of the Troubles by Florence Parry Heide and Judith Heide Gilliland (Clarion Books, 1995). The central figure in this book is 10-year-old Sami who has lived in a war zone all of his life and who takes action against war by spontaneously joining hundreds of children carrying banners pleading for peace.
You will need to either have a classroom set of the book or several books for students to share. You may also choose to read the book to your students if multiple copies are not available.

2. Visit Lines in the Sand to get background information on Palestinian culture and the Arab-Israeli conflict. You may also want to do your own research for information about the Palestinians, although it is imperative that you preview any online resources related to Palestine before using them in the classroom because many of these resources are deeply troubling and inappropriate for children. If you know anyone in your community who is Palestinian or of Palestinian descent, it would be instructionally appropriate to invite that person to visit the class to share their knowledge as well.

3. Students complete a Venn diagram activity during Session 2; you may choose to use an online or print version. If you will be using the online version, visit and familiarize yourself with the interactive Venn Diagram tool and bookmark it on the computers students will be using. If necessary, reserve time in your school's computer lab.

4. Visit and familiarize yourself with the Letter Generator tool. Make necessary arrangements to have students use it during Session 4 and bookmark the tool on the computers students will be using. Make a copy of the Persuasive Letter Rubric for each student in your class.

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