Middle Eastern Studies | College of Liberal Arts
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The Center for Middle Eastern Studies works with educators, school districts, and state officials to “fill in the gaps” between teacher knowledge and the set goals of curricular mandates. Filling knowledge gaps about the Middle East is only one way that we have worked to provide quality, standards-aligned content for K-12 educators to use in their classrooms. We have also sought to use area-specific content to help cover content areas in the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), Texas' educational standards, that are not well covered by textbooks and existing classroom materials.

Both individually and through the Hemispheres consortium, we maintain a presence at annual meetings of the Texas Council for the Social Studies and its local councils, the Texas Alliance for Geographic Education and its local alliances, the National Council for the Social Studies, and other organizations, in order to keep a dialog open with educators and track the latest trends in classroom innovation and curriculum development.

As part of these efforts, we have created classroom-ready curriculum units utilizing primary source documents, area studies content, and classroom activities for middle and high school students. Where possible, we have used primary source documents to allow voices from the region to speak for themselves, without filter, and to encourage students to develop skill sets in analyzing primary documents, reading for bias, and constructing a point/counterpoint argument.

All of our curriculum units are designed to align with the TEKS, and are closely aligned to national standards in history and geography. However, you should feel free to adapt the activities to fit your classroom and your state standards.

Feedback is very important to our process of curriculum development. Please do not hesitate to contact us (see the right sidebar) if you have questions or comments, or would like to suggest topics for future workshops or curriculum units.

You can find a list of suggested resources from other websites and institutions here.

Curriculum published by the Center for Middle Eastern Studies

College of Liberal Arts

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Ghady & Rawan

This ELA curriculum unit, based on the CMES Emerging Voices of the Middle East publication Ghady & Rawan, was designed to be completed independently by scholars in a self-paced environment in grades 8-9, however it can be used and adapted for full-class instruction at various grade levels. This unit includes a Google slides presentation, character chart, guided reading questions, pre-writing assignment, and guidelines for a compare and contrast essay. Ghady & Rawan is a novel for adolescents told through the correspondence between two Lebanese teens—one in Belgium, one in Lebanon—by the award-winning author Fatima Sharafeddine and Samar Mahfouz Barraj.

Thunderbird: Book One

This ELA curriculum unit, based on the CMES Emerging Voices of the Middle East publication Thunderbird, was designed to be taught in a 3-4 week unit for grades 6-8. Included in this unit is a Chapter-by-Chapter Teacher’s Guide that can be easily adapted into a Student Reading Guide that includes literary terminology, vocabulary and allusions, comprehension/discussion questions, and additional resources for cultural/historical connections. This unit would also serve well as a Social Studies supplementary unit on mythology or the Middle Ages. This book is the first in a trilogy. 

To obtain copies of Ghady & Rawan or Thunderbird for your classroom, please contact arielle.levin@austin.utexas.edu

Cairo: Living Past, Living Future 

An interactive web unit designed specifically with K-12 students and educators in mind. This unit will allow you to explore this history, culture, society, geography, and environment of this fascinating city that sits at the crossroads between ancient and modern, east and west, tradition and innovation.

Egypt: A Land of Firsts
Designed for K–5 classrooms, this five-lesson unit about Egypt is designed to help young students explore the similarities between themselves and the other humans who inhabit our planet. Each lesson includes background information for the teacher, suggested activities, worksheets, audiovisuals, etc. A bibliography and resource list is enclosed.

A History of the Jews of Turkey (PDF, 300 kb)
An AP-style document-based question (DBQ) unit for world history classrooms that examines the history of Sephardic Jews from their expulsion from Spain in 1492 to the establishment of the Republic of Turkey in the 20th century.

Curriculum co-published by CMES and the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies

College of Liberal Arts

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Africa Enslaved: Comparative Slave Systems Outside the United States (2004)
 Do you know which country in the Western Hemisphere imported 4 million slaves between 1500 and 1900?  (Hint: it wasn’t the United States.)  This AP-style DBQ unit explores comparative slave systems outside of the United States, with particular focus on Brazil, Haiti, the Swahili Coast of Africa, and Ottoman-era Egypt.

Curriculum co-published through Hemispheres

Understanding Migration: Curriculum Resources for Texas Educators (2004)
Did you know that, if counted together, migrants would form the 5th largest country in the world? From rural-urban migration in the megacities of Latin America and South Asia, to exploring the partition of India and the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, this unit brings a new lens to looking at global issues of migration in your classroom.

People and Place: Curriculum Resources on Human-Geographic Interactions (2005)
This curriculum unit was designed to address human adaptation to and modification of the environment.  Each of the 14 case studies includes myriad activities that build social studies skills by incorporating primary and secondary sources, presenting information in a variety of formats (including graphs, charts, and maps), including varied points of view, and using mathematical skills to interpret social studies information. 

Explorers, Traders & Immigrants: Tracking the Cultural and Social Effects of the Global Commodity Trade(2007)
In 1588, an Italian traveler in Mexico observed of chocolate that, “It seems more suited for pigs than for men.” Today, billions are spent on cocoa each year! This unit examines eight global commodities from their points of origin and the social, cultural, political, and economic changes they wrought along their way. Each case study covers each commodity’s progress from local good to international trade, the effects of large-scale production, and the drama of boom-and-bust cycles.

Restoring Women to World Studies (2008)
This unit explores the situation of women—historical and contemporary—in Latin America, the Middle East, Russia, East Europe and Eurasia, and South Asia. This unit uses primary source documents to discuss the contributions of notable women of historical and artistic spaces, examine concepts of gender roles and gender spaces, the issues that are driving women’s movements today.