Mapping the Middle East

David Fuentes

Lesson: Based on lesson by Emily Hodge and Jennifer Lane

Target Level: Grade 10, Grade 11, Grade 12

Subject Area: Social Studies

Section One: Identifying All Standards And Objectives


Students will be able to identify the various countries that comprise the “Middle East”. Students will be able to discuss some of the differences and similarities between the countries that comprise the region.

PA State Standards:

Subject: Geography (outdated)

Area 7.1: Basic Geographic Literacy:

Grade/Course 7.1.12: Grade 12

Standard B.: Analyze the location of places and regions.

  • Changing regional characteristics (e. g., short- and long- term climate shifts; population growth or decline; political instability)
  • Criteria to define a region (e. g., the reshaping of south Florida resulting from changing migration patterns; the US- Mexico border changes as a function of NAFTA; metropolitan growth in the Philadelphia region)
  • Cultural change (e. g., influences people’s perceptions of places and regions)

Section Two: Identifying Method(S) Of Assessment And Point Of Use Throughout Lesson


Students will be asked to list as many different countries as they can that comprise the region of the ‘Middle East.’ They can also list the languages spoken and the religions practiced in the region, on three individual sheets of poster paper placed in different parts of the room. The students can be broken into three groups and asked to move between the three posters.

Formative Assessment

Discussion should ensue about the work the students completed. Ask students to read aloud from the posters and ask students how they feel about the responses provided by their peers. This will allow for any self-corrections needed and may promote a general sense of consensus about the answers provided.

Summative Assessment

Students will map the region including countries, languages and religions.

Section Three: Identifying The Learning Activities/Instructional Strategies And Details As To How The Lesson Will Be Carried Out

Introduction (Hook)

What is the region referred to as the Middle East? What is the Arab world? What is the Muslim world?

Sequence of Instruction (Step 1, Step 2)

Students will be asked to define the terms Middle East, Arab world and Muslim world. Remind students about the attention that the media has paid to these regions and ask them to list as many countries, religions and languages as they can from the regions.

Allow students time to identify as many of the features as they can, using three poster papers located in various sections of the room.

Compile the poster papers and ask students to review their peers responses. Allow for discussion and any self-corrections that may come from the whole class discussion.

Use the power point provided to introduce the content about the Middle Eastern countries, controversial boundaries, Languages spoken and religious communities.

Ask students to illustrate, share or document the images that come to mind when they hear the terms “The Arab World” or “The Muslim World.”

Prior to slide 16, distribute the world population chart and ask students to identify how many people out of 100 in the world consider themselves Arab.

Closure/Wrap up

*The region defined as the Middle East is a controversial boundary that is difficult to define both culturally and physically.

*Multiple religious and linguistic communities that are usually overshadowed by an “Arab or Muslim Middle East.”

*“The Muslim World” or “The Arab World” are problematic in that they marginalize the diversity of the region.

*The media propagates the popular portrayal of these ideas. Can we redefine them?


Have all materials prepared prior to lesson. Distribute the human population chart, allow powerpoint to be viewed and discussed.

Materials (Teacher and Student)


  1. 100% World Population Chart
  2. Teacher Workshop Map of World

Differentiated Instruction (Planning, Teaching and/or Assessment)

There may be varying levels of participation particularly during the preassessment. Students will have varied knowledge about the topic and should be grouped accordingly.

Adjusting the conversation based on the maturity of the class, talk about the challenges to Bachiko of having to move to a new place. Ask them about what they think of moving and what sorts of challenges moving brings—compare moving to another place in the country where you currently live to moving to a new country.

Use of Technology (Where appropriate)

Resources for Teaching about the Middle East:

Resources identified and compiled by Emily Hodge and Jennifer Lane

Produced by the Middle East Policy Council, this site provides information relevant to most subject areas, and also has lesson plans available. The education director that runs the site, Barb Petzen, also travels to do professional development. She is very knowledgeable, lived in Egypt for a number of years, and is a great presenter.

My other go-to site for ideas for teaching about the Middle East, this site, produced by PBS, also includes lesson plans and internet resources appropriate for students. Topics include stereotypes, the role of women, US foreign policy, and religious militancy.

A very comprehensive website funded by the US Dept. of Education – includes many resources for teaching about all areas of the world, including the Middle East. Also includes information about summer institutes for teachers and other professional development opportunities.

Harvard’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies Outreach Center includes curriculum materials (which can either be downloaded or actually checked out from their center for use in your classroom).

Although not specifically directed toward the Middle East, there are great resources here for students dealing with how to be critical consumers of media. This could be especially helpful when talking about stereotypes in film or political cartoons.

Ways to travel internationally for free (!):

Fulbright-Hayes Grant Program – allows groups of teachers to travel to other countries and write curriculum based on their experiences. Usually sponsored by a university center, and paid for by the federal government.

Section Four: Lesson Analysis

  • What went well?
  • Planning Reflection
  • Teaching Reflection
  • Student & Evidence
  • Improvements