Turbans: Ties to Religion and Culture
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The purpose of this lesson is to encourage students to examine
various aspects of cultural identity. The students will view the
film Turbans, which focuses on a Sikh family's immigration
to Oregon in the early 1900s.
Grade Levels: 4-8
Subject Area: Language Arts
Comprehension and Analysis of Grade-Level-Appropriate Text 2.2
Use appropriate strategies when reading for different purposes
(e.g., full comprehension, location of information, personal enjoyment).
2.3 Make and confirm predictions about text by using prior knowledge
and ideas presented in the text itself, including illustrations,
titles, topic sentences, important words, and foreshadowing clues.
2.4 Evaluate new information and hypotheses by testing them
against known information and ideas.
2.5 Compare and contrast information on the same topic after
reading several passages or articles.
Comprehension and Analysis of Grade-Level-Appropriate Text
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.
Comprehension and Analysis of Grade-Level-Appropriate Text 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.
2.3 Write information reports:
a. Frame a central question about an issue or situation.
b. Include facts and details for focus.
c. Draw from more than one source of information (e.g., speakers,
books, newspapers, other media sources).
Organization and Focus
1.1 Create multiple-paragraph narrative compositions:
a. Establish and develop a situation or plot.
2.1 Write narratives:
b. Include sensory details and concrete language to develop plot
2.2 Write responses to literature:
b. Organize interpretations around several clear ideas, premises,
or images from the literary work.
Research & Technology
1.5 Achieve an effective balance between researched information
and original ideas.
Listening & Speaking
Organization and Delivery of Oral Communication
1.5 Present effective introductions and conclusions that guide
and inform the listener's understanding of important ideas and
Organization and Delivery of Oral Communication
1.4 Select a focus, organizational structure, and point of view
for an oral presentation.
1.5 Clarify and support spoken ideas with evidence and examples.
2.1 Deliver narrative presentations:
a. Establish a context, plot, and point of view
1.5 Arrange supporting details, reasons, descriptions, and examples
effectively and persuasively in relation to the audience.
2.1 Deliver narrative presentations (e.g., biographical, autobiographical):
a. Relate a clear, coherent incident, event, or situation by using
Learning Objectives: Students
be able to synthesize information from a variety
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
be able to interpret facts and express meaning through writing
be able to translate knowledge to new contexts.
be able to predict consequences and draw conclusions.
You may also have students complete the following Student Self-
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 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 40- to
50-minute class periods
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. For an overview of the Sikh culture, have students, as a
class, visit the following Web site: http://www.sikhmuseum.org/bs.htm.
2. Divide the class into groups of three. Provide the students
with pieces of construction paper for recording information. Then,
send them on an "Internet Scavenger Hunt" to collect facts about
Sikh culture and the wearing of turbans. Each group should collect
10 to 15 facts. Remind the students to record the Web site where
they found each fact.
(Teacher Note: Before you begin, you may wish to view the following
Web site, which contains criteria for evaluating Web pages:http://www.library.cornell.edu/okuref/webcrit.html.)
Some excellent sources students may use to begin their research
include the following: http://www.sikhnet.com/s/SikhIntro
(Slides 54-58 and 74 contain pictures of turbans.)
3. Make a large cutout of a turban (to estimate size, see number
4, below). Refer to the Seattle Times Web site "Understanding
Turbans" for examples of turban styles: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/news/lifestyles/links/turbans_27.html.
Post the cutout where it will be visible to the class.
4. After the students have finished collecting information pertaining
to Sikh culture, ask each group to print out its facts so that
the paper can be cut into strips, with one fact on each strip.
Have the students compare and discuss their facts and generate
categories for different types of information.
5. Post the students' fact-strips under the appropriate category
headings on the cutout of the turban. Students can use this as
a shared resource throughout the remainder of the lesson.
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:
How do your clothes reflect who you are?
2. Share insights from the pairs discussions with the entire class.
Can you think of times when you have judged people by how
Can you think of times when people have judged you or your
family members based on looks?
Can you think of examples in your own school of people being
judged mistakenly because of the way they look?
3. Have the students work in pairs to create a brief storybook
or poem about someone whose looks are very different from who
that person really is.
4. Encourage students to edit, illustrate and publish their
writing. Hold an author session, in which individual students
share their writing with the class.
FOCUS FOR VIEWING
Tell the students to think about how the different people in
the film feel about their experiences as immigrants.
Some key terms to define and discuss include the following:
Tell the students to think about the following overarching question
as they watch the production:
How do people retain their cultural identity
when they move to a new country?
In the post-viewing activities, students are challenged to
explore the different experiences of the key characters in the
In this activity, students are encouraged to reflect in writing
on how the incidents in the film affected the different characters.
1. Read the following scenario to the students:
Imagine that another Sikh family has just moved to
Astoria, Oregon, and the Singh family has invited them for dinner.
The guests are very concerned about how they and their children
will adapt to this new environment.
Tell the students that they are going to write a brief skit in which
various members of the Singh family share their own experiences
with the new family.
Divide the students into small working groups and assign each
group a different role from the film. Each group should take on
the persona of a member of the Singh family and write dialogue
expressing that character's reactions to the removing of the turbans
and the cutting of the boys' hair. The students should write in
the first person.
Group One: The sister
Group Two: The younger brother
Group Three: The older brother
Group Four: The mother
Group Five: The father
The students should include the following elements in their
How did you feel about what happened?
If you are writing from a child's perspective, include the following:
In what ways do you think your life will change because
How do you think other members of your family felt?
How do you feel about your parents' decision?
If you are writing from a parent's perspective, include the following:
How do you think this will impact the lives of
your children and their children?
2. After each group has finished, stage a presentation. If possible,
invite students, staff, parents, teachers and community members
to view the performance.
The purpose of this activity is to encourage students to think
about the long-term impact of intolerance.
1. Share the following scenario with the class:
You have been asked to create a sequel to the film Turbans,
chronicling the experience of the Singh family after the boys
removed their turbans.
Divide the class into small groups. Students in each group will
discuss and write a synopsis of what they imagine would happen in
2. Have the students designate one person in the class to play
the role of a producer, who will judge the ideas for a sequel.
The other students will portray filmmakers presenting their ideas.
3. Lead a class discussion based on the issues raised in the
4. Ask the whole class to collaborate on writing a script for
1. Ask the students to respond in a writing journal to the following
If you were writing the script for Turbans,
would you change the end? (You may wish to remind the students
that this film is a dramatic interpretation of events that actually
What pressures do you think the family felt? Have you had
How would you respond to being attacked? Would you change
the thing that identified you or meant something significant to
What part of your own identity would be the most difficult
Did the Singh family gain something by coming to live in
What does American society gain as people from varied cultures
come to live here?
Can a person still believe in something (or identify with
it in a certain way) without looking the part? Can you think of
1. Create a list of things people can do to welcome newcomers,
respect cultural identities and find a place for individual expression
in society. Post the list on your classroom door and invite members
of your school community to add their own ideas to the list.
Cha, Dia. Dia's Story Cloth. New York: Lee & Low Books,
Hesse, Karen. Letters from Rifka. New York: Henry Holt
& Co., 1992.
Say, Allen. Tea with Milk. New York: Houghton Mifflin,
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