Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

We Can Work It Out; or Can We?
Nancy Ohmart
Time Frame:
Three-Five Days or hours, depending upon how much of this unit you use.
Middle East

Grade Levels:
9, 10, 11, 12

Classroom/Homework Activity to be performed:

Idea: compare roles of United States, British, Jewish, and Palestinian people during your lifetime by role playing your own creation. Divide class into these four groups and give each group websites to create their own real-life personifications (students will use clock group 2 for this). The groups will participate in the following activities to entice their interest and encourage their recognition of cultural diversity and implementation of higher level analysis (through synthesis of a variety of technological and written materials) of these four groups of people. Finally students will participate in a “tag your it” class debate, discussing and conveying their own perspectives and what they understand as truths from within their own and from within their group findings. 

Students will be enticed to rationalize between primary and secondary sources through the utilization of many different documents (the instructors own choosing).


Students will develop a deeper comprehension of the strife between Israel and the Palestinians and will be able to apply their own synthesis to their own lives through their own role-playing creation.

District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.8.1a Come to discussions prepared; having read or researched material under study; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence on the topic, text, or issue to probe and reflect on ideas under discussion.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.8.1c Pose questions that connect the ideas of several speakers and respond to others’ questions and comments with relevant evidence, observations, and ideas.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.8.3 Delineate a speaker’s argument and specific claims, evaluating the soundness of the reasoning and relevance and sufficiency of the evidence and identifying when irrelevant evidence is introduced.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.2 Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.7 Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.8 Distinguish among fact, opinion, and reasoned judgment in a text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.9 Analyze the relationship between a primary and secondary source on the same topic.

Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:
Primary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:











6.  Documents to analysis



7.  Below are good photos for photo analysis from Johnson Library



8.  Study of SHUTTLE DIPLOMACY, you must understand THE geography of the countries you are trying to get to work together as you as the intercessor (mostly Kissinger).

Great document to pull some from to utilize with students for analysis



9.  http://clintonlibrary.gov/photogallery.html?galItem=864&galAlbum=35&galTag=

Clinton, Rabin, and Arafat. 

Use picture from the library, of Clinton in the middle of Rabin and Arafat shaking hands (you may need to type captions onto any picture you utilize to explain why you included pictures). Rabin was killed by his own people (at a rally to support the Oslo Accords) because of this action of shaking hands with Arafat about 2 years later, on Nov., 4, 1995. 


10.  Lots of written down information to choose from (use first 10 pages):



11.  www.onbeing.org/program/two-narratives

Full description of activity or assignment.


Part ONE

Using the teaching strategy called an “ENTRANCE TICKET”, ask your students (as they come into the classroom for about three minutes, quietly, to write down in phrases their own definitions for the  following four words: FACT, PERSPECTIVE, NARRATIVE, AND TRUTH (you may need to distinguish, later, the differences between dogma and truth). Hand students four notecards to write their definitions for each word on a different card (in other words, one word per card).Then ask students to volunteer their definitions (they can share one or all), allowing students to place their notecards on a bulletin board underneath the corresponding word.  Encourage students to discuss between themselves the comparisons and contrasts of what they may have written down, only adding to discussion to guide them through the process.  You could allow all students to pin their cards after a 5-10 minute class-led discussion (there will always be those students who do not desire to actively participate in a verbal discussion, however, who will get up and pin their cards on the bulletin board which allows even them to have somewhat of a passive role yet still, A ROLE).



Part Two

Here, you will give background information. To "not reinvent the wheel,” utilize the power point: http://www.meridianschools.org/MVHTeachers/M-P/Miraya/Global/AssignmentsInformation/Unit%202%20Middle%20East/The%20Creation%20of%20Israel.ppt

 This is a great 15 minute power point over the history of Israel; OR you could use a prezi presentation (there are many on-line which you can choose from). 

Teachers need to direct students to take notes because they WILL utilize them in their assignment. Ask students to group into their clock   group 4, sharing their notes with each other preparing to combine their newly acquired info with future learning.

(You may be asking, what are the clock groups?  A simple explanation is you ask all students to draw a clock on a notecard and place the 3, 6, 9, and 12 points onto it.  Then they are to write the name of a person they would like to work with first (they become each other’s’ 3 o’clock group), then continue to 6, 9, and 12 (therefore you have four groups you can work within).


Part Three

 Then, show follow video which is a short clip of the visual changes of the map of Israel; 


This will enable you to reinforce the geographical studies (great time to do a cross-curricular with Geography Instructor) giving students copies of the maps of the Middle East with before and after the recognition of Israel. Have students do map analyze worksheet in clock group One from the following website:  http://www.enchantedlearning.com/asia/israel/wwwww/3.shtml  

Then, encourage your students to share their opinions and their own perspectives, conducting their own class discussion over their discoveries of how, why, who, when, the maps changed (about 5-10 minutes). As the class room instructor, you will need to keep students looking at facts, distinguishing differences between actual facts and their own perspectives. Once students have made their distinguishing difference perspectives/opinions apparent, ask them to jot down in 1-3 sentences and pin onto a current map of Israel you have on one wall. This will be a reference focal point throughout this lesson for students to reflect upon as they create/form their own truth about this lesson.

Part Four-

Homework and/or outside the classroom time:

Students will do on-line www research of their group as they begin to create their personification to include within their groups "role-playing" creation. Their own, unique historically fictional person will need to be a part of a community (could be family members with others in their originally assigned group, or neighbors, or co-workers, etc).




Part One

Before you begin this step, you may desire to show the following prezi OR ONE OF YOU OWN, over the differences between primary and secondary sources AND what sources can be besides a written document. 



Part Two

Now, conduct this step which is a primary document analysis of several sources relevant to the Recognition of the State of Israel.  FIRST, Divide into clock group 3, giving each group the same documents to analyze (use about 5-10 different ones). SECOND, instruct your students to classify their documents in order from the most important to the least important (please encourage them to discuss and to listen to each other’s perspectives) and then, write very briefly their justifications. THIRD, pick their top two and analysis as a group, preparing to verbally justify why they chose those documents to share. STEP FOUR, the teacher will ask students to share which were their top two and why, encouraging students to ask questions of each group and/or add to the analysis and synthesis of interpretations. Allow students to truly direct the discussions, only adding to the discussion when the teacher desires the student to them to dig deeper in their reasoning, applying what they have learned so far (the purposes of this activity are, first, to give to students the knowledge to distinguish between primary and secondary sources AND, secondly, to encourage students to evaluate the relevance of primary documents to their own lives while the student learns about the true life stories of the past).


Part Three

Have students write a 2-5 sentence reflection "exit ticket" explaining (after ALL YOU HAVE heard, experienced, learned, applied, analyzed and synthesized) your OWN TRUTH AFTER YOU WATCH the You Tube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rn12wcZaZF8

Homework and/or outside classroom time:

Students will do on-line www research of their group as they continue to create their own personification to include within their groups "role-playing" community/debate.













Part One

Give all students one of the following quotes to write an "entrance ticket" interpretation AND then spend 5-10 minutes allowing students to discuss their own perspectives/interpretations. Remind them to take notes as we discuss because they can include each other's concepts/interpretations within their own created role-playing. Discuss what were the motives behind these statements, how do these statements make you feel.  


Quote "from Egyptian human rights activist, Hafez Abu Saada who expresses thoughts of many Arab democrats when he noted the implicit racism in the US as he stated the US believes in 'Democracy for the Jews, but not for the Arabs.'".... Page 14 from book edited by Noah Berlatsky, Greenhouse Press, Farnington, MI. 2008. 


Quote from same book: Orson Scott Card is an award winning author, especially of ScienceFiction. He writes on page 83, "there is no negotiation with people who have decided that everything we are and hope for and believe in must be torn down and destroyed." 


Also, review exit ticket from day/lesson before with students.



Part Two

Get into teacher appointed groups to finish creating and writing your role-play, narrative. Students should bring their own collected research rough-draft to share with others in their assigned groups, remembering they are to create a well- flowing narrative together.  Each student should have at least 5 speaking parts, describing in deep details, your character, your age, how you are related and/or involved with the others in your community. 

Students should be prepared to do a 20 minute “tag, your it” debate over why their truth is correct, defending their positions against the other three groups.


TAG YOU ARE IT is a great way to allow even your quietest of students an active AND verbal role.  You start out with (usually the most vocal) member of the group, each in a chair facing each other which forms a square.  Each person makes an opening statement, then the floor is open for discussed debating. Each of the four have the rest of their group sitting behind them, (hopefully) waiting eagerly to tag the team member in the square when they desire to exchange places.  When the second person is in the square, they continue the debate, until another team member tags them. I encourage every team member to tag to get into the square because, only there, can they talk.  I also tell the team members, they each have to be in the square at least once and instruct the team members to make sure all their team is allowed at least a brief moment in the square to say at least one statement.  THIS is a WONDERFULLY challenging and also rewarding activity for my 8th graders who often ask if they can do this again and again.


Final Activity: Instruct students to write a reflection and evaluation paragraph over all they have learned INCLUDING THEIR 2-5 sentence reflection "exit ticket” from the day before.

Full explanation of the assessment method and/or scoring guide:

Assessment will be upon daily participation on a 1 to 5 scale, for the group discussions, which needs to occur daily.

Collaborative Work Skills : rubric








Routinely provides useful ideas when participating in the group and in classroom discussion. A definite leader who contributes a lot of effort.

Usually provides useful ideas when participating in the group and in classroom discussion. A strong group member who tries hard!

Sometimes provides useful ideas when participating in the group and in classroom discussion. A satisfactory group member who does what is required.

Rarely provides useful ideas when participating in the group and in classroom discussion. May refuse to participate.

Quality of Work

Provides work of the highest quality.

Provides high quality work.

Provides work that occasionally needs to be checked/redone by other group members to ensure quality.

Provides work that usually needs to be checked/redone by others to ensure quality.


Actively looks for and suggests solutions to problems.

Refines solutions suggested by others.

Does not suggest or refine solutions, but is willing to try out solutions suggested by others.

Does not try to solve problems or help others solve problems. Lets others do the work.


Never is publicly critical of the project or the work of others. Always has a positive attitude about the task(s).

Rarely is publicly critical of the project or the work of others. Often has a positive attitude about the task(s).

Occasionally is publicly critical of the project or the work of other members of the group. Usually has a positive attitude about the task(s).

Often is publicly critical of the project or the work of other members of the group. Often has a negative attitude about the task(s).


Brings needed materials to class and is always ready to work.

Almost always brings needed materials to class and is ready to work.

Almost always brings needed materials but sometimes needs to settle down and get to work

Often forgets needed materials or is rarely ready to get to work.

Working with Others

Almost always listens to, shares with, and supports the efforts of others. Tries to keep people working well together.

Usually listens to, shares, with, and supports the efforts of others. Does not cause "waves" in the group.

Often listens to, shares with, and supports the efforts of others, but sometimes is not a good team member.

Rarely listens to, shares with, and supports the efforts of others. Often is not a good team player.

research conducted

Conducted research and was well prepared

Conducted some research

conducted little research and was not well prepared

didn't conduct research and was not well-prepared