Teacher's Guide
Project Description
Assessment and Rubric
Learning Objectives
Project Components
National Standards Correlations
Lesson Planning Suggestions
Cross-Curricular Extensions

Project Description
Scholastic presents four interactive activities from MSNBC that offer students a comprehensive understanding of complicated world events, not only from the headlines of the present day but also from the pages of American history.

Each interactive features concise, informative text supported by easy-to-navigate maps and diagrams that guide students through examples of international diplomacy and the efforts of world leaders struggling between the desire for peace and the necessity of war. Incorporated into your class studies, these interactives are certain to provide students with a greater insight into a variety of subjects in the social studies curriculum.

The Social Studies Interactive home page is divided into two areas:
  • In the News
  • History
"In the News" focuses on events in the Middle East, including the U.S. war in Iraq. "History" revisits the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which shocked the world and sent the United States into World War II.

This project is suitable for students in grades 6–12. See Lesson Planning Suggestions below for a prescribed plan on using Social Studies Interactives with your students.

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Several assessment components are embedded in this lesson plan. Targeted skills are listed in the Learning Objectives. An assessment Rubric assesses student proficiency with the Social Studies Interactive project.

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Scholastic's Social Studies Interactives are designed to support the teaching of standards-based skills. Depending on how much time students spend in the course of participating with Social Studies Interactives, students will:
  • Generate ideas and questions about the role of the United States in world affairs, particularly in relation to the United Nations and the Middle East.
  • Evaluate current examples of international diplomacy and assess the success and/or failure of such efforts.
  • Analyze the issues currently in dispute in the Middle East and consider what might be their possible solutions.
  • Conduct research on examples of diplomacy by evaluating political analysis and researching the players involved in settling international disputes.
  • Use Web technology and informational resources to expand knowledge and understanding of events in American history, current events, and international relations.
  • Generate ideas on how homeland security measures are put into practice and how these measures affect our daily lives.

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In the News

Rebuilding Iraq
Grades 7–11
When starting a current events unit on the situation in Iraq, give students a background on what it means to rebuild a country after a war. How does the U.N. Oil for Food program work? Why is it hard to control looters? This interactive guides students through the issues facing the United States in rebuilding Iraq. A narrative explains the issues but also asks students to make decisions on how they would react if faced with certain situations. The interactive also includes references to past nation building like Japan post World War II.

Simulation: Be a Baggage Screener
Grades 6–10
When talking about current events and our nation's security, engage students by tackling the issue of airport security with this interactive. Students confront the challenges facing today's most basic airport security when they take over a shift as a baggage screener. For two minutes, their job is to scan actual X-ray images of carry-on luggage for suspicious objects, weapons, or anything that may be dangerous. They are graded on their performance at the end of their shift.


Pearl Harbor: An Interactive Experience
Grades 7–12
When starting a unit on World War II, guide students to this interactive and explore America's entry into the war. Revisit the attack on Pearl Harbor through animated maps and recordings of actual eyewitness accounts by US servicemen who experienced those infamous early hours of December 7, 1941. How effectively did the Japanese use the element of surprise? Students analyze clues gathered by American Naval Intelligence that might have warned US forces that the attack was coming. They can then consider why these clues went unnoticed by military leaders.

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This project aids students in meeting national standards in several curriculum areas.

Reading/Language Arts

National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)
  • Students read a wide range of print and non-print texts to build an understanding of texts, and of themselves, and to acquire new information to meet the needs and demands of society.
  • Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions.
  • Students use a variety of technological and informational resources (libraries, databases, computer networks) to gather and synthesize information in order to create and communicate knowledge.
Social Studies

National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) and the Center for Civic Education (CCE), National Center for History in the Schools, National Geographic Society
  • Students learn how the world is organized politically.
  • Students analyze how domestic politics and constitutional principles of the United States affect its relations with the world.
  • Students study how the United States influences other nations, and how other nations influence American politics and society.
  • Students understand how to use maps and other geographic representations, tools, and technologies to acquire, process, and report information.
  • Students understand how culture and experience influence people's perceptions of places and regions.
  • Students understand how the forces of cooperation and conflict among people influence the division and control of Earth's surface.
  • Students understand how to apply geography to interpret the past, the present and plan for the future.
  • Students understand the search for community, stability, and peace in an interdependent world.
  • Students understand major global trends since World War II.

Technology Foundation
  • Students use technology to locate, evaluate, and collect information from a variety of sources.
  • Students use technology tools to process data and report results.
  • Students use technology resources for solving problems and making informed decisions.

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If you have one day:

The Social Studies Interactives are intended to enhance your social studies and current events curriculum. You can therefore follow the same general lesson plan for each of the four interactives featured:

Introduce the subject of your lesson and explain to students that they will be exploring a certain interactive that is related to your lesson.

Direct students through the interactive with guided questions. A few examples:

Explore the Issues: Big Picture with Iraq
  • Is there a right and wrong side to this issue?
Simulation: Be a Baggage Screener
  • Knowing the difficulties of being a baggage screener, what are some proposals you have for airport security?
Pearl Harbor: An Interactive Experience
  • What were the events that led the United States into World War II?
Once the students have completed the interactive, regroup as a class and have a wrap-up discussion on what they learned. Have students present their answers to their guided questions. Continue the discussion by asking students for examples of how historic events of the past influence today's efforts in international diplomacy. Encourage students to then generate ideas on the function of international diplomacy itself. How do leaders of different countries work to create consensus? What are the obstacles in their path to arrive at that consensus? Discuss with students the role of the United States in international affairs. How do American actions overseas affect our lives here at home?

If you have one to three days:

To extend this lesson, assign students different interactives either as individuals or in small groups. Direct them with guided questions and have them discuss the results within their small groups. Then, return to the larger class and have each group present the interactive and their findings to the entire class.

If you have one to five days:

Introduce the interactive in the format above for the first day. To extend the project, use the interactive as the basis for a research assignment or oral report.

Either assign, or have students select, a particular facet or detail featured in an interactive — for example, a disputed issue between international parties, or the role of the United Nations in a specific world event. Students can use Scholastic News Online, Scholastic Classroom magazines, the library, and the Internet to collect more information on their subject. Encourage students to use facts from both the past and the present to support their own opinions on the state of world affairs today.

Once the papers are written they can be presented in class. They can also be used as the basis for a class debate — a model UN Security Council, for example.

If you have longer:

If you have more time, have students go through all of the Social Studies Interactives using the lesson plan above. As students complete each interactive, encourage them to look for common themes on diplomacy and the role of the United States in world affairs. Have them analyze and discuss how subjects covered in one interactive affect subjects covered in another. What are some of the most complex issues facing international leaders in the world today?

As a final project, students can present a book of their research papers on each of the interactive subjects.

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How do a society's artists depict war? From Egyptian hieroglyphics to Picasso's "Guernica," examples of art portraying both the heroism and the ravages of battle can be found around the world and throughout the course of history. How do these artworks reflect the times in which they were created? Have students choose a known work of art that relates to war or the fallout of war. Encourage them to gather background information on the artist and his/her reasons for producing that particular work. Was it a commission to promote a military action, or was it a protest against one? And did the artwork have any affect on the society's understanding of that military action?

Security in today's busiest airports depends on state-of-the-art devices to seek out potential dangers to airline passengers. From X-ray scanners to metal detectors, we find examples of advancing technology also in hubs for ground transportation. So what is the science behind this technology? Divide your class into groups and assign to each group a particular machine or device. Using either the library or the Internet, have each group research the basic science at work, for example, in the metal-detector wand typically used by security guards. How do metals trigger off the device's alarm? Is this same technology used in other areas besides security? If possible, students can also gather information on the inventors of the device and under what circumstances this technology was first put into use.

Nobel Prize-winning author Naguib Mafouz is only one of a number of contemporary writers at work in today's Middle East. In prose and poetry, authors in countries like Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Iran offer a unique perspective on the life behind events in that troubled region of the world. Assign students a selection of reading from a Middle Eastern author. Encourage them to look for examples of the culture of the region and the characteristics of life described that might inform an understanding of current events. Students can also research the authors they are reading to learn about their thoughts concerning the affairs of the region. How are those thoughts expressed in their writing? Students can then write essays addressing these and other questions.

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Samir and Yonatan
by Daniella Carmi
Samir, a Palestinian boy, awaits an operation in an Israeli hospital, trapped among the very people he blames for his brother's death. Yonatan, a vulnerable, bookish Israeli kid with a boundless imagination, comes into his life — and nothing is the same again. This is a story of violence and reconciliation, a story of enemies and friends. It is a searing "letter from the front" of the myriad conflicts in the Middle East. This book dares readers to understand, and introduces memorably vivid characters who put a human face on a terrible struggle.
Grades 3–6
Paperback, 160 pp.
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Scholastic Encyclopedia of the United States at War
by June A. English, Thomas D. Jones
A complete, full-color chronicle from the American Revolution through the Gulf War, with timelines, maps, eyewitness accounts, and more.
Grades 4–8
Hardcover, 192 pp.
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NY Times: A Nation Challenged
A powerful and eye-filling photographic chronicle of the award-winning New York Times' coverage of 9/11 and its aftermath worldwide, including the war in Afghanistan. In an unprecedented effort, The New York Times opens its picture archive of September 11 and the aftermath at home and abroad. The result is groundbreaking photojournalism punctuated with authoritative prose. Culled from both published and previously unpublished material, A Nation Challenged highlights the best work of the paper's award-winning staffers — the work that has made the Times the paper of record for these events.
Grades 3–8
Hardcover, 96 pp.
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The Journal of Ben Uchida
by Barry Denenberg
When the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, Ben Uchida is stripped of his identity, assigned a number, and herded into an internment camp for years. Ben's journal encourages tolerance and shows how family, friends, and even baseball can help the human spirit endure a dark period in American history.
Grades 4–8
Paperback, 160 pp.
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Early Sunday Morning
by Barry Denenberg
Amber's journal chronicles two months that change her life forever. In late 1941 her family moves to Hawaii, landing in the epicenter of the attack that plunged the United States into World War II. As she watches her world literally explode in flames, Amber demonstrates that in the face of tragedy, kids can find the courage to help and to simply go on.
Grades 4–8
Hardcover, 156 pp.
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Decisions, Decisions 5.0 Building a Nation
Help your students make some of the most important decisions in history right in your classroom! Role-playing brings your curriculum to life! With each title in the Decisions, Decisions series, students role-play a decision-maker faced with a critical situation drawn right from your history or contemporary-issues curriculum. Your students not only acquire information, they learn how to use it.
Grades 5–10
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