Contemporary international issues: US-Iranian Crisis January 2020

As a teacher of Modern Studies and Politics as well as History, I am tasked with teaching and discussing contemporary socio-economic and political issues. The US-Iranian crisis is an international issue that has sparked interest among my pupils and one that needed to be addressed given that many pupils were asking and fearful of the imminent outbreak of World War III. They could hardly be blamed: as the dawn of the new decade arrived, #worldwarIII was trending on Twitter.

I decided to create a lesson to explain the events that they had heard about, but also offered critical analysis and welcomed their evaluation and predictions related to this international crisis.

I began by showing the class this short Sky News 'explainer'. This really helped to show the region and its alliances in the Middle East and beyond:

I then gave each pupil a letter: A-F. They would later get into groups of 6 to discuss the articles that they were to be given, as illustrated below:

The pupils were asked to highlight the key individuals in their article and then underline any words or phrases with which they were not familiar. Pupils were then asked to spend 5 minutes reading their article. They were then asked to write a question that they had in their minds after reading the article. We discussed this as a class and I encouraged the pupils to consider possible answers to their questions.

I feel it is important for the pupils to understand that teachers do not have all of the answers and solutions to current international crises. I think that it is beneficial for pupils to see and experience their teachers demonstrating their thought processes and not acting as the font of all knowledge, especially in a situation that is ongoing.

I then asked pupils to each write three sentences that summed up their article. They were allotted 5 minutes. I felt this was an effective task where they had to precis the text; a very useful skill. This was followed by an instruction to write a snappy, informative headline. Another 5 minutes was allotted for this.

Next they got into groups of 6 so that each member of the group represented one of the articles. They had to, in their small group, outline the main points of their article. This group task was allocated 15-20 minutes. I observed groups as this task played out and helped out with any misconceptions or questions that they had.

The groups were given a double sided worksheet (see below). They had to select a scribe to complete it on behalf of the group. This task stepped up the academic challenge as they had to think critically about the consequences and then predict what they think may happen next (long term, short term and immediate future). In a whole class feedback discussion, one person from each group was required to relay the ideas of the group and justify the predictions made. I appreciate that the worksheet is not colourful, but this should help with photocopying budgets. These could be projected on to a whiteboard so that the amount of photocopying can be reduced.

Additional tasks could relate to the reliability of each of the publications, a map shading activity showing alliances, a speech writing task as a civilian from each region/country, a newspaper front page showing a biased perspective from a range of viewpoints, a short news bulletin that is recorded in groups, etc.

If you would like to use these resources freely, please download from my TES shop.

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