Mapping a Place: Afghanistan at a Crossroads (day 2 of 2)

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SWBAT read and understand and determine the writers' purposes by reading two letters from the Cold War.

Big Idea

World leaders have pushed and pulled at Afghanistan for decades--my students begin to find out why.


How do you scaffold in information?  All of this is brand new background knowledge that will be essential to reading Kite Runner and to understanding U.S. involvement in Afghanistan.  It is a fascinating history, but I am wondering if you would scaffold it differently for your students?  Towards the end of today's lesson, the students will be reading two separate letters, each with a strong point of view about Soviet involvement in Afghanistan; as the students read these letters, they will need to sort through the challenging vocabulary load of each letter and explain the point of view represented (RI.9-10.6).

QFT-- Questions Formulation Technique Review

5 minutes

Students Asking Questions.  Time to review the questions the students asked yesterday (attached).  I will quickly review the questions asked in yesterday's questions, indicating which ones will be central to the lesson.  In this quick lesson set, the point is to show the students that their questions are driving our inquiry into the perspective of Afghans (RL.9-10.6).  This technique is an attempt to make the unit resemble problem-based learning techniques in which students will focus on inquiring into key questions that will become the iterative process of the unit.  Wow! 


Prompts for Thought.  

Who showed aggression in Afghanistan?  Why?

What were the economic and political effects?  

The students will explore these questions in the video clip and in the letters written by world leaders in the following sections. 

Video Set - The Shadow of Afghanistan

15 minutes

During the video clip, I will stop on occasions to clarify and to ask students to write down the following key players in "the Great Game" that made Afghanistan a pawn in the Cold War for a time. 





The purpose of this clip and this unit, really, is not to turn this English class into a history class, but to give the necessary context for the students to understand the two letters that they will read in the next section of the lesson (RI.9-10.6) as they identify author's purpose and explain why the two Superpowers were at such an impasse, and the students will also gain some context for reading Kite Runner (RL.9-10.6).


Reading Letters for Point of View: Carter (USA) and Brezhnev (USSR)

20 minutes

Selecting the Letters.  For this part of the lesson, I have selected two letters from Jimmy Carter and Leonid Brezhnev debating over what is to be done in Afghanistan.  There are several repositories of these letters online, and you can select different ones.  The point is to see that the relationship between the world leaders is cordial on the surface but very tense underneath (RI.9-10.6). 

          Letters 1

         Letters 2

Class Read Aloud and Notes.  Since the texts were very hard and vocabulary-laden, I will read them aloud to the students, and I ask them to select a key paragraph that they think will indicate the author's purpose for writing, in this case the world leader (RI.9-10.6).  I will then ask them to read that paragraph again, aloud, in their partner pair and to underline and mark where the author's intentions and purpose for writing is clear.  

Following that, we will have a brief class discussion with a paragraph of writing (W.9-10.10) on each letter, and I intend to draw out the perspective of the writer by asking basic authorial intent type questions: why was he writing?  What point was he trying to make?  How did the Cold War affect his word choices? 

Explain why you think the author is writing his letter and what he hopes to accomplish.