For nearly one year, stories from Afghanistan have topped the news. But how much do your students really know about this war-torn nation? In this News In-depth, you and your students get a firsthand look at Afghanistan, its people, government, and turbulent history. Most of these stories were reported by Cassandra Nelson, an American journalist living in Afghanistan.
Below you will find lesson plans designed to help you make the most of this issue in your classroom. Lesson 1: The People of Afghanistan
Materials: The People of Afghanistan (PDF reproducible)
Curriculum Connections: social studies (people and culture), reading a chart
Getting Ready: Read the online article Pushtuns First, a profile of Afghanistan's largest and most dominant ethnic group. Ask: What keeps this tribe strong and united? (Its fierce loyalty to its tribal code.) If all tribal groups in Afghanistan feel just as strongly about their own tribes, what problems do you think result? (Possible answer: Difficulty organizing a central, shared government; fights among the tribes over land and other issues, etc.)
What to Do:
- Distribute the PDF reproducible. Using a large world map or map of Afghanistan, invite students to pinpoint the location of each tribal group listed on the chart.
- Have students study the chart and answer the questions that follow. Check answers together.
- Have students select one tribal group to research further. If possible, have students find photos of karakul sheep and hand-woven Afghan carpets online to highlight the special talents and interests of the Uzbeks and Turkmen.
Answers to reproducible: 1. Turkish; 2. Tajiks; 3. 40 percent, 8 million; 4. Hajiks, Uzbeks, and Turkmen; 5. All share the Islam religion; 6. Weaving woolen carpets; 7. 91.5 percent, 8.5 percent
Lesson 2: Kids Are Kids
Materials: Kids Are Kids (PDF reproducible)
Curriculum Connections: study skills (taking notes), social studies (geography and culture), language arts (compare and contrast)
- Read the four stories in the "Firsthand Look" section of this News In-depth: The Kids of Khewa, Life in a Rural Afghan Village, Marjan's Wedding, and The Pushtuns .
- Provide an example of a Venn diagram—a diagram with overlapping circles or boxes used to compare and contrast two items. Use a simple topic such as bananas and oranges.
|Have an inedible peel||Have a peel||Have an edible peel|
|Are sweet||Are fruits||Are sour|
- Distribute the reproducible and explain that students will be making diagrams comparing the lives of Afghan kids with their own lives. In this case, instead of overlapping circles, students will be working with overlapping squares.
- In the left square, students should list statements that describe Afghani children's lives. On the right, they list statements that describe American children's lives (using their own lives as a model). In the center, they should list things that Afghani and American kids have in common.
- After students work independently for several minutes, ask for students to volunteer their answers. Draw a large Venn diagram on the board and fill it in using students' responses.
- Ask: Are your lives and the lives of Afghanistan's kids more different or alike? Based on the diagram and discussion, invite students to write questions they'd like to ask their peers in Afghanistan. Select a few favorites and send them to Kids Exchange. Check out the other questions and answers already listed on that page.