Unity Productions Foundation (UPF) is a nonprofit media production company with a mission to counter bigotry and cultivate cross-cultural understanding, especially among Muslims and people of other faiths. Its website offers multimedia resources that educators can use to teach about Islam and the lived experience of American Muslims. Below you’ll find a six-step plan for building a lesson or unit for grades 6–12 using UPF resources.
- Who are American Muslims?
- Why should I learn about different religions?
- What’s Islamophobia?
1. Visit the Unity Production Foundation website. Familiarize yourself with the organization and its resources. Screen American Muslims: Facts vs. Fiction (11 min.) and any other media you plan to use before sharing the resources with students. American Muslims: Facts vs. Fiction will likely spark robust conversation in your classroom. To prepare, download and review two resources: UPF’s Teacher Discussion Guide for the film and TT’s Let’s Talk! Discussing Race, Racism and Other Difficult Topics With Students. Teachers also should be prepared to define and unpack the terms discrimination, extremist, Islamist, Islamophobia, religion, salvation, stereotype and terrorism, which come up in the film.
discrimination (noun) the treating of some people better than others without any fair or proper reason
extremist (noun) an advocate of extreme measures or views
Islamist (noun) an advocate or supporter of a popular reform movement advocating the reordering of government and society in accordance with laws prescribed by Islam
Islamophobia (noun) prejudice toward or discrimination against Muslims due to their religion or perceived religious, national or ethnic identity associated with Islam. (Source: The Bridge Initiative, Georgetown University) [Link: http://bridge.georgetown.edu/what-is-islamophobia/]
religion (noun) the service and worship of God or the supernatural commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance
salvation (noun) the saving of a person from sin
stereotype (noun) something agreeing with a pattern; especially: an idea that many people have about a thing or a group and that may often be untrue or only partly true
terrorism (noun) the use of terror as a means of achieving a goal
Sources: Unless otherwise noted, the vocabulary definitions are drawn from Merriam-Webster's Word Central or Merriam-Webster's Collegiate® Dictionary, Eleventh Edition.
2. In some communities, teaching about Islam has led to controversy. If you feel this could be the case in your district, meet with your department head or administrators to discuss potential issues and ways to address them. Sharing your unit or lesson plans with an interfaith organization that includes Muslim members is also a good idea. Consider proactively communicating with students, parents and guardians to outline what you plan to teach and why.
3. Introduce students to the lesson’s three essential questions (listed above). Discuss the questions as a class.
4. Hand out copies of this KWL chart, which offers three prompts. Ask students to start filling out their charts, leaving the “Learn” section blank.
- What I know about American Muslims
- What I want to know about American Muslims
- What I learned about American Muslims
5. Watch American Muslims: Facts vs. Fiction with your class, having students take notes on what they learned or what surprised them.
6. Use the questions in the Teacher Discussion Guide to guide a classroom discussion. Be sure to allow time to revisit the KWL chart as part of the discussion or independent work time.
7. Ask students to revisit the EQs, either in groups or on their own. Prompt students to research one of the EQs and present their findings in a creative way (for example, a PSA or an art project).
Have students read and analyze the materials developed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations—California regarding the bullying of Muslim students at school.
Ask students to share their views on how the climate and policies in your school compare to the experiences of the students surveyed in California.