Mapping a Place: Afghanistan at a Crossroads (Day 1 of 2)

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SWBAT formulate questions about Afghanistan's people, history, and dynamic culture by assessing their own prior knowledge and then by analyzing multimedia texts.

Big Idea

Why should we care about Afghanistan? My students will begin to ask each other this important question.

Unit Introduction

15 minutes

Welcome to my unit on Afghanistan and The Kite Runner!  The purpose of this unit is for students to understand the points of view present in Afghanistan that have been shaped by a tumultuous history. Understanding this history is critical to understanding the novel that we will read, in particular as the experience is often a cross-cultural one (RL.9-10.6).  It is my hope that the students will connect to the characters and events in The Kite Runner, which will comprise our next unit of study.  Along the way, we will focus on reading non-fiction sources that contain background information (RI.9-10.1) and analyze the information present in those sources.  We will also read original letters written by world leaders during the Cold War and by everyday people in Afghanistan in order to understand the various writers' purposes for writing (RI 9-10.5). 


QFT: Question Formulation Technique

20 minutes

Question Formulation Technique (popularized by Rothstein and Santana in their book Make Just One Change) calls for eliciting questions from the students.  This can be an alternative to a typical K-W-L, and it helps students to realize what information matters to them (RL.9-10.6) in trying to understand and show empathy for the people affected in the novel.  This key move is important because setting up questions for inquiry helps students to begin to be dialed into the unit, as brain-based learning researchers will tell us.  

I will write this statement on the board:


I will ask:

Who is involved?  Why?  What do you want to know? 

Formulate your own original question.



This will be a quick but energizing discussion in which I record their questions.  These questions become the basis of our class's inquiry over the coming week or so.  I think it's really important that we respect the integrity of the questions that the students raise, so I will document them on butcher paper (see attached photo later it the lesson) and continue to refer to that poster as our knowledge is refined.  It will be an important part of our class's learning to document that we are making progress, refining questions, uncovering new controversies, etc., as we continue to become more knowledgeable.  In this way, the cross cultural experience of reading The Kite Runner (RL.9-10.6) becomes enriched: instead of just realizing that there was a lot of strife in Afghanistan, they will ask about the contribution of various groups to that culture of aggression, be it the Soviets, the racial groups, religious groups, the U.S., the Taliban, etc. 

Background Info Video and Analysis

20 minutes

I will show the opening 20 minutes of this video and ask the students to complete the exit slip.  The goal is to see if the students are tracking with the topic and what they have learned.  While they are viewing the film, I ask the students to draw key pieces of evidence form the opening scenes in the video to explore the culture of aggression that has been unfolding in Afghanistan for some time (RI.9-10.1).  If you teach in a blocked environment, you might show a longer portion of the video, but as it stands, I want to have them understand fully the role of the Soviets, Mujahedin, and the militarization that resulted.  Later in the unit, I will show a segment of the video centering on the Taliban (52:00 until 1:16:00 or so).