Slavic and Eurasian Studies

Teacher-Developed Curriculum Units

In cooperation with Hemispheres, the International Area Studies Outreach Consortium in the UT College of Liberal Arts, and individually, CREEES works with educators, school districts, and state officials to “fill in the gaps” between teacher knowledge and the set goals of curricular mandates. As part of our efforts, we have created classroom-ready curriculum units utilizing primary source documents, area studies content, and classroom activities for middle and high school students.

The following modules were developed in line with the standards set out by the State of Texas. Texas’ mandated content standards — the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) — are closely aligned to national standards in the social studies, however, you should feel free to adapt the activities below to fit your individual classroom and state standards.

Summer Mini-Grants

The Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies has provided summer-long mini-grants for educators from institutions of higher education and qualified middle and high school teachers in Texas and the greater southwest to conduct research or develop new course material focused on our region. The following units were developed with financial assistance provided by these summer mini-grants. Future mini-grant opportunities will be announced in the Spring semester on the News page of our website.


Matryoshki and Fairy Tales: A Lesson Plan to Revive Your AP Russian Language Students After the Long Summer Break!

This lesson plan is for a high school AP Russian Language class, usually the fourth year of study, usually 12th graders. Grounded in the National Standards and intended for use at the very beginning of the school year, it serves several purposes:
  • Synthesizes student knowledge,
  • Integrates Russian culture,
  • Develops all four language skills, and
  • Enhances meta-cognitive and study skills.
This lesson plan is most useful as a welcome-back-to-school review unit lasting the entire first nine-week grading period. Download the Matryoshki and Fairy Tales lesson plan (PDF, 147KB)

Suicide and Russia

This unit for high school students considers the societal causes and effects of suicide in Russia. It includes background information, a PowerPoint presentation, classroom activities, and research topics.

The sections include:
  1. Suicide and Russia research paper (PDF, 250KB)
  2. Suicide and Russia PowerPoint presentation (PPT, 3.2MB)
Lessons and assignments include:
  1. Suicide webbing (PDF, 31KB)
  2. Chronology (PDF, 31KB)
  3. Russiacausemultieffect (PDF, 45KB)
  4. Russiademographyadvdisadv (PDF, 29KB)
  5. Soviet maps (PDF, 350KB)
  6. Russian map instructions (PDF, 55KB)
  7. Faces of Pain (PDF, 64KB)
  8. Additional research topics (PDF, 45KB)

Central Asian and Transcaucasus Summit

This lesson is designed to simulate a summit between delegates from the countries of the Caucasus, Central Asia, Russia, and other countries that are vying for influence in the region such as the United States, China, and Turkey.  Students take on the roles of the delegates from these countries and engage in negotiations over treaties covering the variety of security, economic, geopolitical and environmental issues that are important to their countries and the region.  Some of these issues are border disputes, combating terrorism, oil pipeline routes, water sharing, stopping drug trafficking, economic development, and creating military alliances.

Sections include:
  1. Introduction (PDF, 59KB)
  2. Central Asian and Transcaucasus Summit on Economics and Security (PDF, 92KB)
  3. Central Asian and Transcaucasus Summit Project Rubric (PDF, 58KB)

Russian and Soviet Cinema

This course surveys the Russian cinematic tradition from its beginnings through the first decade and a half following the disintegration of the USSR. Special attention is paid to the avant-garde film and theory of the 1920s; the totalitarian aesthetics of the 1930s-40s and the ideological uses of film art; the “New Wave” of the 1950s-60s; and cinema as medium of cultural dissent and witness to social change.

Syllabus (PDF, 79KB) adaptable for both Russian language classes and non-language classes.

Banned and Censored Works of Russian Literature

This course examines selected works of Russian literature and media that were banned, censored or otherwise prohibited, from the Imperial through Soviet periods. Except for infrequent intervals of short-lived reforms, censorship was a consistent, if not always effective mechanism of state control over the arts and culture of Russia and the Soviet Union. In this course we will discuss the role of censorship in Russian cultural life in conjunction with a detailed analysis of some of the great works of political and cultural expression that flourished in spite of it.

Syllabus (PDF, 130KB)

The Uyghurs and Islam in China

In the West, the Uyghur people are a scarcely known ethnic group. Located in the Xinjiang region of far west China, this primarily Islamic minority is increasingly misunderstood. As geopolitics continue to intertwine and fearfully react to the exploits of extremist, terrorists groups such as ISIS, it is crucial that misunderstandings of little-known peoples be clarified. This unit attempts to address both the cultural richness and current challenges of the Uyghur people.

See this curriculum unit here.

The Bosnian War and Life under Siege in Sarajevo

The unit is primarily designed for English Language Arts, but there is a great deal of crossover with Social Studies as well. Many of the lessons are perfectly suitable for Social Studies classes and may be paired with English Language Arts as an interdisciplinary two-week unit. For example, Lessons One, Two, and Three provide historical understanding of the events and can easily fit within a Social Studies curriculum to support subsequent lessons that are more specifically structured to address Language Arts skills. Lessons Four, Five, Six, and Seven are shared in content but utilize excerpts from the novel The Cellist of Sarajevo. Lesson Eight provides students with practice in close reading of non-fiction while Lesson Nine fosters creative writing through poetry. The lessons are designed to accommodate classes of 45–50 minutes in length, but time suggestions are included with each activity and can easily be modified to work within myriad schedules.

See this curriculum unit here.

The Fulbright-Hays Capstone

A collection of curriculum units designed as a capstone for CREEES's Fulbright-Hays summer programs abroad


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  • Department of Slavic and Eurasian Studies

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    2505 University Avenue, Stop F3600
    Burdine Hall 452
    Austin, TX 78712
    512–471–3607