As a fifth grader during the Gulf War, I distinctly remember Mrs. Spina helping to calm our fears about the war. After giving us a background on the war, Mrs. Spina brought us to a large world map to show us how far away the fighting was from our small town in Massachusetts. I remember going home and feeling more confidant talking about the war with my parents. While I did not fully understand the entire situation, I understood the war a bit better. When I started to watch the news on my own that background proved invaluable as I could follow along with the news anchor.
While we all have metrics and curricula to get through, as teachers we must help our students understand the world around them. The unknown is scary. As teachers, we help shine a flashlight on the unknown. We empower students through knowledge.
When ISIS attacked Paris on Friday evening, I knew that whatever lesson I had originally planned for Monday was out the window. I spent much of the weekend reading about the attacks, about ISIS, about the Syrian Civil War, and about the refugee crisis. I thought about the lesson from Mrs. Spina and while I could not show them a map about fighting far away to assuage their fears, I could help them understand more about what is going on in Syria.
When class began on Monday, my students were very concerned. We began just talking about the bombing in general – both in Paris and Beirut. Listening to them and their concerns helped guide the next few days as I sought out resources to use with them.
With this post, I am going to share resources that I have gathered and my final activity for discussing American involvement in the Syrian Civil War.