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Teacher Lesson Helper: Iraq's New Beginning

Teacher Tips
Although major combat operations in Iraq officially ended more than a year ago, thousands of U.S. troops remain stationed there during the rebuilding efforts. Violence continues and the number of casualties is rising. America's presence in Iraq remains a hot button in national politics and has become one of the most important factors in the 2004 Presidential Election. This Special Report, packed with the latest updates and historical context, will help your students better understand the relevant events and issues. The mini-lessons and reproducibles that follow will help you pull together the many stories in this online issue.

Lesson 1
Here and There

Materials: Here and There (PDF reproducible)

Curriculum Connections: world cultures, language arts (compare and contrast), research skills

Objective: Using quotes from Iraqi youngsters, students will compare and contrast their own lives and customs with those of children in Iraq.

Getting Ready:
Set aside time for students to read the interviews with Iraqi kids under the heading Life Today. As students read, instruct them to think about how their own experiences compare with those of these children.

What to Do:
1. Distribute the reproducible and have students preview the questions on the compare-and-contrast chart.
2. Have students revisit the interviews with Iraqi children to find the answers to the questions and complete the chart.
3. Review students' answers and discuss other differences or similarities they may have noticed while reading. Have students imagine that an Iraqi child their own age was coming to visit your community. What sights would students want to show the child? What activities would they want to do with him or her? Why?

Lesson 2
A New Constitution

Materials: Law of the Land (PDF reproducible)

Curriculum Connections: critical thinking, social studies, citizenship

Objective: Students will understand the purpose of a constitution and outline the rights and freedoms they think the new Iraqi constitution ought to include.

Getting Ready:
Have students read the segment of this special report about the interim Iraqi government and the upcoming elections. Explain that right now, Iraq has temporary leaders and a temporary constitution. The country will have elections in January and has set a fall 2005 deadline for creating a new, permanent constitution. Ask students to share what they remember or know about our own constitution, or read the text of the document online at

What to Do:
1. On the board, have students list some of the freedoms and powers described in the U.S. Constitution. Discuss why the document is vital to the functioning of our government and our country. Explain that all laws in a country must be in accordance with that country's constitution.
2. Distribute the reproducible and invite students to imagine that they are helping to create a new constitution for war-torn Iraq. What freedoms would they want to guarantee the Iraqi people? What governmental bodies would they create? A President? Vice President? Cabinet? What powers would they grant to each part of this government?

Lesson 3
All About Iraq

Materials: All About Iraq (PDF reproducible)

Curriculum Connections: understanding details, understanding vocabulary, finding information

Objective: By using this online special report to complete a current-events crossword puzzle about Iraq, students will synthesize and review the information they have learned.

Getting Ready:
Have students read the special report about Iraq and become familiar with where to find different kinds of information. (As students work the crossword, they will need to revisit the stories to access specific details.)

What to Do:
1. Distribute the reproducible and review how a crossword puzzle works. If you'd like, explain that students can revisit the stories to find the answers.

2. For fun, you might want to turn the activity into a scavenger hunt and see who can find the information fastest.

3. Review the answers with the class, inviting students to explain where they found each answer. Hone research skills by demonstrating how section headings and headlines provide clues to a section's or story's contents. For example, to find out Iraq's richest resource or national language, students might click on "The Country of Iraq."

[Answers to PDF: ACROSS 5. Baghdad; 8. Internet; 10. June; 11. Constitution; 12. Electricity. DOWN 1. January; 2. Violence; 3. Cabinet; 4. Water; 6. Ambassador; 7. Schools; 9. Oil.]

Lesson 4
What's the Big Idea?

Materials: What's the Big Idea? (PDF reproducible)

Curriculum Connections: understanding main ideas and supporting details, current events

Objective: By identifying the main ideas and supporting details in several online news stories about the conflict with Iraq, students will better understand the latest developments and hone reading comprehension skills.

Getting Ready:
Have students read the online stories in this Special Report, especially the pieces about Saddam Hussein and Iraq's economy. Instruct students to pay special attention to main idea and supporting details as they read. (Students may wish to take notes.) Review the difference between a main idea and detail, and point out that main ideas are often not explicitly stated. Using one story as a model, help students identify the unstated main idea by asking the questions, "What is this story mostly about?" or "What single message does the writer want me to understand?"

What to Do:
1. Distribute the reproducible and have students tackle the main idea summaries on their own.
2. Divide students into small groups and have them compare the main ideas and supporting details they identified on the worksheet. Ask students to present the main ideas to the class and to tell if the main idea was stated or unstated. If the main idea was stated, students should show where in the story they located the central idea. Also ask students to decide if some details are more relevant to the main idea than others.

Lesson 5
Roots of the Conflict

Materials: Roots of the Conflict (PDF reproducible)

Curriculum Connections: reading a time line, history

Objective: Students will explore the roots of America's presence in Iraq using a time line dating back to Saddam Hussein's rise to power.

Getting Ready:
Point out to students that the tensions between the United States and Iraq did not happen overnight. In fact, trouble had been brewing for well over a decade before the U.S. launched its 2003 attack. Before starting this time line activity, have students brainstorm what they already know about the conflict and its aftermath. Why did the U.S. consider Iraq a threat?

What to Do:
1. Distribute the reproducible and read the time line entries together. Have students answer the questions that follow the time line.
2. Ask if students remember any of the important events that happened during their lifetimes or know anyone who served in the Persian Gulf War or most recent war in Iraq. Discuss.
3. To provide context for the historical period covered by the time line, invite students to create new time lines of other events that happened during this period. Events may be related to inventions, sports, government, or even students' own lives. Have students juxtapose the new time line with the one on the reproducible.

[Answers to PDF: 1. Five years; 2. 24 years; 3. 1988; 4. It provided weapons to Iraq; 5. In that year, Iraq refused to allow weapons inspections; 6. The U.S. wanted to search for weapons of mass destruction and remove Saddam Hussein from power; 7. In 2004, U.S. troops remain in Iraq while the country rebuilds.]