If you don't already have it, download the free PDF reader from
The purpose of this lesson is to encourage students to examine
the issue of tolerance in our culture. The students will view
the film Turbans, which focuses on a Sikh family's immigration
to Oregon in the early 1900s. They will relate the issues in the
film to problems facing Sikh, Arab and Muslim populations living
in the United States in the post-September 11 environment.
Grade Levels: 4-8
Subject Areas: Language Arts,
2.2 Use appropriate strategies when reading for different purposes
(e.g., full comprehension, location of information, personal enjoyment).
2.5 Compare and contrast information on the same topic after reading
several passages or articles.
2.3 Discern main ideas and concepts presented in texts, identifying
and assessing evidence that supports those ideas.
2.4 Draw inferences, conclusions, or generalizations about text
and support them with textual evidence and prior knowledge.
2.3 Connect and clarify main ideas by identifying their relationships
to other sources and related topics.
3.3 Analyze characterization as delineated through a character's
thoughts, words, speech patterns, and actions; the narrator's
description; and the thoughts, words, and actions of other characters.
Grade 8 2.7 Evaluate the unity, coherence, logic, internal
consistency, and structural patterns of text.
2.3 Write information reports:
a. Frame a central question about an issue or situation.
b. Include facts and details for focus.
1.2 Create multiple-paragraph expository compositions:
a. Establish a topic, important ideas, or events in sequence or
b. Provide details and transitional expressions that link one
paragraph to another in a clear line of thought.
c. Offer a concluding paragraph that summarizes important ideas
1.2 Create multiple-paragraph expository compositions:
a. Engage the interest of the reader and state a clear purpose.
b. Develop the topic with supporting details and precise verbs,
nouns, and adjectives to paint a visual image in the mind of the
1.1 Create an organizational structure that balances all aspects
of the composition and uses effective transitions between sentences
to unify important ideas.
1.2 Support all statements and claims with anecdotes, descriptions,
facts and statistics, and specific examples.
1.1 Create compositions that establish a controlling impression,
have a coherent thesis, and end with a clear and well-supported
1.3 Support theses or conclusions with analogies, paraphrases,
quotations, opinions from authorities, comparisons, and similar
Standard 1 Understands and knows how to analyze chronological
relationships and patterns.
4. Knows how to identify patterns of change and continuity in
the history of the community, state, and nation, and in the lives
of people of various cultures from times long ago until today.
Standard 14 Understands issues concerning the disparities between
ideals and reality in American political and social life.
5. Knows how various individual actions, social actions, and political
actions can help to reduce discrepancies between reality and the
ideals of American constitutional democracy.
Learning Objectives: Students
empathize with the problems faced in the classroom
by Arab, Muslim, Sikh, Middle Eastern and South Asian students.
Assessment: To assess students'
mastery of the learning objectives, you may rate them on the quality
of their writing, their presentations and their participation in
synthesize information from a variety of sources.
conduct an interview to learn about biases.
interpret facts and express meaning through writing activities.
You may also have students complete the following Student Self-Evaluation:
What did I learn from this lesson?
What do I still want to learn about this topic?
What part of my work on this lesson gives me a sense of achievement?
What would I do differently next time?
In what ways was I able to work effectively with others?
What did I like most about this lesson?
You may also wish to conduct individual conferences to discuss
the students' self-evaluations and their own observations of student
participation in the lesson activities.
Time: Two to three 50-minute
class periods and one homework assignment
Materials and Teacher Preparation:
Videotape of Turbans, directed by Erika Surat Andersen
Drawing and writing (journal) supplies
Bookmark the following Web sites:
The purpose of this activity is to prepare students for viewing
the film by providing a brief introduction to Sikh culture.
1. Before beginning this activity, visit the Sikh Education.com
Web site at http://www.sikheducation.com/.
Make copies of the four "Handouts for Students" in the "For Teachers"
Facts About Sikhs
2. Read the opening paragraph of the Sikh Education.com homepage,
which discusses how some Sikh children have been afraid to go to
school and interact with their classmates after the events of September
Understanding a Sikh Turban
Basic Background About Sikhism
Your Sikh Neighbors
3. Divide the class into groups of three and provide each group
with a copy of the handouts.
4. Ask each group to collect four facts from each of the handouts.
5. After the groups have finished, provide time for them to
share and discuss their facts with the rest of the class. At the
end of the activity, collect the handouts to use later in the
The purpose of this activity is to encourage students to
reflect on times in their own lives when people were judged by
outside attributes rather than their personality, character or
other inner qualities
1. Do a "Think-Pair-Share" activity, in which students pair
up, discuss questions and then participate in a large-group discussion.
Pairs begin by discussing the following questions:
What is diversity? (List examples of diversity
in nature, music, your family, your local community and the world.)
2. Have the pairs share their insights with the entire class.
What would it be like if everyone looked and acted the
same? Could that lead to conflicts?
Why do you think some people don't value diversity?
What is prejudice? (List examples of how prejudice causes
some people to stereotype others.)
What are some examples of prejudice resulting in unfair
treatment of people?
Why do you think some people are prejudiced?
What is tolerance? (List examples of ways people practice
tolerance or respect toward others.)
What do people gain or lose from respecting or not respecting
other people's diversity?
What do you think the United States and the world in general
gain or lose from not respecting diversity?
3. Discuss how prejudice and intolerance have affected various
groups of people since September 11.
FOCUS FOR VIEWING
Tell the students to divide a piece of paper into four equal
sections and write one of the following headings in each section.
As students watch the film Turbans they will record information
from the film under the appropriate headings.
Examples of differences among the Singh family
Examples of differences among the classroom students
Examples of people building walls in their relationship
with the Singh family
Examples of people building bridges in their relationship
with the Singh family
In this activity, students will listen to an essay written
by an 18-year-old Arab-American girl. Students will consider the
comments made in her class following the events of September 11
and compare them to the Singh family's experience.
1. Listen on the NPR Web site as Rana Sino, an 18-year-old Arab
American, reads excerpts from her essay about becoming a target
of hostility and suspicion after September 11: http://search1.npr.org/opt/collections/torched/watc/data_watc/seg_136651.htm
Note: You may also access this transcript by going to www.npr.org
and typing "Bronx Essay" in the search box.
2. Remind students that Turbans and Rana Sino's essay
are both based on real-life experiences. Engage students in a
discussion about the similarities and differences in the two accounts.
The following questions may be helpful in initiating the discussion:
What were some of the common themes in both
3. Divide students into groups of six or seven.
In what ways have things changed from the Singh children's
school experience in the early 1900s to Rana's current-day experience?
In what ways have they stayed the same?
How did the Singh children react to the way they were treated
by their classmates?
How did Rana react to the classroom conversation of her
How did the teachers respond to the classroom situation
in each of the settings?
How might the Singhs' teacher have made their transition
to a new school and country easier?
If you were Rana Sino's teacher, how might you have handled
class discussions after September 11?
4. Tell students in each group to choose one of these roles
5. Ask the groups to role-play a continuation of the scene that
Rana describes in her essay. Begin where Rana says, "Why don't you
just shoot me now?" in response to her classmate's comment about
joining the armed services to shoot Arabs.
Student who talked about shooting Arabs
The other class members
6. Tell students to role-play ways of opening up meaningful
dialogue among Rana's classmates in this situation.
7. After each group finishes its role-playing session, discuss
that group's performance.
8. Homework assignment: Ask students to imagine that they were
in Rana's class on the day she wrote about. Tell them to reflect
on the day's events in the form of journal entries. Each student
will write four entries, one from each of the following perspectives:
9. Collect the journals and ask for volunteers to share their entries
with the class.
Student who wanted to join the armed services
Random student from the class
In this activity, students will listen to an NPR broadcast
on Muslims in America, take a hidden-bias test and conduct an
1. Listen to or read the three-part NPR Special Report "Muslims
in America," at http://www.npr.org/news/specials/response/home_front/features/2001/oct/muslim/011022.muslim.html,
2. Discuss the following quotation from the Detroit Free
Press Web site:
Like all people, Arab Americans are too often described
in simplistic terms. Although the Arab culture is one of the oldest
on Earth, it is, in many parts of the United States, misunderstood.
There are no easy, one-size-fits-all answers. Culture, language
and religion are distinct qualities that act in different ways
to connect Arabs, and to distinguish them from one another.
3. Tell students that they are going to work in small groups to
develop interview questions that will serve as a guide in beginning
to explore the cultures of Arabs, Muslims and Sikhs and in opening
discussions on the importance of valuing the diversity that is the
foundation of our country.
The differences that seem to separate Arab Americans from
non-Arabs can be much smaller than the variations that at times
differentiate them from one another. It takes time to learn
the issues and to understand them, but it is essential and rewarding
for us to do that. Misunderstanding ultimately hurts each one
4. Pass out the handouts from the Sikh education Web site. Send
students to the following Web sites to collect further information:
Facts about Arabs from the American Arab Anti Discrimination Committee's
Facts about Islam from the American Arab Anti Discrimination Committee's
Islam.com Los Angeles-based Web site with comprehensive information
and links to Muslim culture worldwide
The Detroit Free Press Web site's "100 Questions and Answers
About Arab Americans"
5. Before students begin writing the interview questions, send
them to the Tolerance.org Web site at http://www.tolerance.org/hidden_bias/02.html
to evaluate their hidden biases. Tell students to click on the
"Racial Bias: Arab Muslims" button.
6. After the students have completed the test, discuss the results,
using such questions as the following:
Did the results show that you have some hidden
bias toward Arab Muslims?
7. Now that students have completed their research and assessed
their own hidden biases, ask the groups to write interview questions.
Below are some suggested directions students can use as a starting
Were you surprised by the results? Explain.
What do you think might be some of the reasons behind your
What happens when people are judged by the way
8. Ask each student to interview at least two people and record
their responses, either on tape or by hand.
How did some people's biases affect how they treated Arabs,
Muslims, Sikhs and anyone who looks Middle Eastern or South Asian
after September 11?
What can people do to help create an environment that encourages
respect for all persons?
What do we know about the history of Arabs, Muslims and
What are some things that can happen when people practice
intolerance over a long period of time?
What are some of the stereotypes, biases or misperceptions
people might have about Arabs, Muslims and Sikhs?
9. Tell students to respond to the following in writing:
Which answer surprised you the most? Explain.
Choose the answer that you found the most interesting and
describe your reaction to it.
Discuss an answer that made you think about your own views.
If none of the interviewees' responses made you think about your
own views, explain why this was the case.
What did you learn from the interview?
What do you think the interviewee might have learned from
1. Visit the "Hate in the News" section of the Tolerance.org
Web site at http://www.tolerance.org/news/article_hate.jsp?id=277.
Select a few examples of the hate mail received by the American
Arab Anti Discrimination Committee since September 11, 2001.
2. Read the hate-mail messages to your students and ask them
to respond to one of the messages in the form of a letter to the
Work as a class to create a school or community initiative for
tolerance. The following sites provide many ideas on the topic.
Ideas for Observing the International Day for Tolerance
Things You Can Do to Fight Prejudice and Racism
Tools for Tolerance
Ways to Fight Hate
Visit the "One World Mural" section of the Tolerance.org
Web site at http://www.tolerance.org/one_world/index.jsp
to help create the largest online mural dedicated to unity and
back to top