We’ve just collected some of the most thought-provoking and active lessons from the Trunk and compiled them into a 2-week unit of study. Check out the 55-page lesson on the website menu called “Highlights”. We’ve included an updated Occupation Game, soldiers writings, a role play based on the movie Promises, a Wall activity, a reading with Black Lives Matter activists discussing similarities with Palestinians living under occupation, and maps. Appropriate for any high school class and level. We hope you’ll check out the new unit!
Gaza is very small. It’s only 40 km x 10 km. Have your students draw a map of their own community and see where Gaza would fit. Below is an example using Seattle (map designed by Dennis Blum).
Ask students to research what happened in the Gaza conflict (or show the vimeo One Family in Gaza). Write a poem or story about what would happen if that occurred in each student’s own community. Ask students to be very specific. For example, “I-5 would close and Dad couldn’t go to work” or “Swedish Hospital would lose power”.
Teachers, you may already have been using the Promises DVD in your classroom. Here’s a way to extend the learning much further. First, show Promises (which introduces your class to both Palestinian and Israeli children). Next, show the update on the children, available as a special feature on the DVD. Finally, use the Role Play in the curriculum. The Role Play asks each student to take on the role of one of the Promises children. Then students try to negotiate a just peace agreement.
A teacher who just tried this with his students was thrilled at the levels of engagement and discussion and deep critical thinking.
Roots Run Deep by Hamde Abu Rahma (available online or on loan in the Trunk) is a book I just discovered. Hamde, an accountant from the Palestinian village of Bil’in, became a photojournalist to document the impact of occupation after his brother was critically injured and his cousin was killed. Every page in this book has one intriguing photo and a paragraph of text. It is very accessible for all students, including visual learners, English Language Learners, and Middle Schoolers.
Here’s one way you could use this book in a lesson exploring Palestine. First, use the Movement Grid lesson in the Trunk (in the Dig Deep unit p. 6-9) so students discover what it is like to have their own community divided by a Wall. Then, use Roots Run Deep to explore what is happening in Palestine (with the Wall, settlements, land confiscation, house demolition, etc.). Show a picture from the book. Ask students what they notice, what they think might be going on, why they think it might be happening, what they wonder. Then read the paragraph of text to the students. Discuss. Afterwards, ask students to search for another vivid image on the web that shows a different aspect of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They can share with their classmates and/or write their own paragraphs about what is happening.
The Trunk offers study guides to two movies that show the Palestinian narrative (The Land Speaks Arabic) and the Israeli narrative (In Search of Peace) of when Israel was founded and most Palestinians were forced from their land. You will find study guides to many of the best movies about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Promises, Slingshot Hip Hop, Occupation 101, Palestine for Beginners…. If you are in Western Washington state and can borrow the physical trunk, we furnish you with copies of the movies too. Also included is the Occupation Game, with 100 playing cards. Students write a prose poem in response to various occupation situations.
This curriculum can be taught in middle or high school. Students form Literature Circles to read young adult novels set in the Occupied Territories. The two novels are The Shepherd’s Granddaughter and A Little Piece of Ground. Enlarge the picture below to spot the two books. One novel has a male protagonist and is set in the 1990s in a city. The other novel has a female protagonist and takes place in the countryside during the early 2000s. If you borrow the physical trunk, we have 34 copies of each novel for you, along with discussion questions and suggestions for extending the activities.
This classroom based assessment is recommended for 11th grade but can also be taught at the middle school level. In it, students are taught about Israel’s occupation of Palestine. Then, students are encouraged to “dig deep” and develop and research their own historical question by analyzing primary and historical narratives.