Archive for March 15th, 2014


Free High School Curriculum

March 15, 2014

For Immediate Release
Free Curriculum for High School Social Studies Teachers Just Released

Rethinking the Region: New Approaches to 9-12 U.S. Curriculum on the Modern Middle East and North Africa

We would like to announce the release of Rethinking the Region, a curriculum resource of 15 lesson plans (with appended and accompanying resources) to help US World History high school educators teach about the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in their classrooms.  Developed by a team of five education professors, the curriculum was created in response to the need to contextualize the MENA region in a more nuanced manner for high school educators.  It is grounded in a rigorous process of US World History textbook analysis and review, which subsequently served as a springboard for the curriculum design. The authors also consulted with history and area studies scholars in order to synthesize and integrate new scholarship on the region, using this material to generate curricula, web-based materials, and study guides.

The curriculum is framed around the following themes:  Women and Gender, Plural Identities, Political and Social Movements, Empire and Nation, and Arts and Technology. The lessons—drawing heavily on primary source materials—were generated in specific response to the findings of the textbook analysis, and are aligned with the Common Core Standards.  These lessons can be taught sequentially or can stand alone, even within each theme.  In this sense, they are designed for teachers to be able to choose when they want to pause and delve in more depth on a particular theme or topic, while still adhering to the state curriculum.

In approaching the curricula, the authors not only wanted to illuminate how peoples and societies interacted in collaborative and fluid ways, but also how ordinary people were agents in shaping their own trajectories. Given the present political context in which the region and its peoples are often misrepresented, this research and curriculum serves as a necessary and urgent intervention. The curriculum is meant to interrupt some of the simplistic and reductive narratives found in contemporary history textbooks through lessons that embody creativity, cultural responsiveness, and nuanced approaches to teaching more completely about the region.

The curriculum can be downloaded at  Please feel free to contact us at info@teach-mena.orgwith questions, concerns, and feedback, as well as to inquire about possibilities for workshops.

Dr. Maria Hantzopoulos, Principal Investigator
Vassar College

Dr. Monisha Bajaj, Co-Investigator
University of San Francisco

Dr. Ameena Ghaffar-Kucher, Co-Investigator
University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Roozbeh Shirazi, Co-Investigator
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

Dr. Zeena Zakharia, Co-Investigator
University of Massachusetts Boston

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