Community Connections & Social Studies Mini Unit Project

 Title: World Religions: Introduction to Islam

Class: World Religions 12

Topic: Islam and Media Misrepresentations


  •       Students will recognize that representations of religion in the media and popular culture are often inaccurate
  •       Students will become familiar with the Islamic faith and draw connections between Islam and other world Religions

Big Ideas:

  •       Comparing beliefs provides insights into and understanding of diverse global cultures and peoples.
  •       Religion can powerfully shape social, political, legal, and environmental values.

Curricular Competencies:

  •       Assess the accuracy of representations of religion in media and popular culture
  •       Use Social Studies inquiry processes and skills to ask questions; gather, interpret, and analyze ideas; and communicate findings and decisions

 Lesson One: Introduction to Islam and Islamic History

Learning Objectives: 

  •       Students will become familiar with the Islamic faith as an Abrahamic religion
  •       Students will be able to list and gain an understanding the five pillars of Islam

Teacher Activities:

  • Assure students that no one will have to share personal information or beliefs, and that discussion should explore faith without positive or negative judgment
  • Direct students to TPS activity: Circulate room to gage discussion, offer prompts where needed
  • Class discussion – list on board main themes or questions brought up in class
  • Presentation on Islamic Faith Including Lecture, PowerPoint, and Video
    • Teacher will lecture and show short presentation on Islamic faith
      • Islam is an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion teaching that there is only one God, and that Muhammad is a messenger of God
      • The five pillars of Islam
      • Islam in relation to the West, similarities to Judaism and Christianity

Student Activities:

  • TPS activity; What do you know about Islam and what do you want to know?
  • Share out; Students will share out some questions and what they believe to know about Islam
  • Following presentation students have a class discussion on what they have learned and which questions they can now answer that they had at the beginning of class

Lesson Two: Misrepresentations of Islam and Islamic History in the West 

            Learning Objectives:

  •       Students will recognize that representations of Islam are not always accurate and often contribute to perpetuating negative stereotypes

Teacher Activities:

  • Provide students with a list of terms on the board that are often misused in popular culture
  • Provide students with the true and intended definitions as they relate to the islamic faith
  • Divide students into groups and handout media sources

Student Activities:

  • In small groups of 4-5 students will read and analyze a piece of media highlighting possibly incorrect information and noting how the media portrays the Islamic faith
  • Each group will share out what they found and whether they think the media source is fairly or accurately representing the Islamic faith
  • What are the consequences of misrepresentation?

Possible Terms and Misconceptions to Explore

  • “Allah”: The word Allah simply means God, and Islam springs from the same monotheistic tradition as Judaism and Christianity. To Muslims, Allah is the God of Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Mary.
  • Jihadist and Holy war; “Jihad” literally means striving, or doing one’s utmost
  • Do Muslims believe in Jesus? Yes. Jesus is believed to be a prophet and a messenger of God.
  • Muslims are Arabs; An Arab is a person who speaks Arabic as his or her native language, Muslim refers to anyone who practices the Islamic faith
  • Islam oppresses women; Most of the oppression of women by Islam and Muslims that is highly publicized is usually due to local customs and traditions (cultures). Muslim women have been presidents and prime ministers. Violence towards women and forcing them against their will is not permitted by Islam


Encountering the World of Islam:

Lesson Three: Field Trip; Students and Teacher will visit local mosque.

Learning Objectives:   

  • Students will be immersed in and appreciate diversity in faith
  • Students will gain a better understanding of Islamic faith

Teacher Activities:

  •       Reiterate the etiquette of visiting a place of worship and religious community
  •       Encourage students to be curious and respectful
  •       Prime students to think of questions they can ask

Student Activities:

  • Students will tour the mosque and be free to ask questions
  • Students will submit a final reflection on their experience visiting the mosque and consider what they have learned about the Islamic faith


Students will be assessed…

  • through their participation and their willingness to engage with each other about the material
  • Through their ability to think critically and ask questions
  • Their ability to critique the value of sources and recognize the credibility of the sources and materials


Teaching Tolerance; Addressing stereotypes about Islamic faith

This mini unit can also serve as a way to teach tolerance and address and teach about diversity and social justice themes through:

  • Highlighting perspectives of groups ignored, disadvantaged, marginalized, or stereotyped
  • Challenging assumptions in texts (books, films, music, etc.)
  • Linking discussions to students’ diverse backgrounds
  • Encouraging critical thinking by challenging taken-for-granted oppression and prompting students