Module 4: Contemporary Hot-Button Issues (90–100 minutes)

Overview: Among the hot topics in teaching about Islam, issues of contemporary Islam are the ones most often asked about by students. Terms such as jihad, shari’ah, madrassa, hejab, and fatwa have become household words, and abstractions such as extremist, terrorist, fundamentalist, militant, and Islamist ricochet through contemporary discourse. Teachers need to be equipped not only to provide answers to their students’ questions. The module discusses approaches to these difficult topics, access to primary and secondary sources, and activities to help students engage critically with these issues.

  • What is Shari’ah?
  • Islam and women
  • Islam and terrorism
  • Islam and human rights

Module 5: Elementary Classroom Activities for Teaching about Islam and Muslims  (90-100 minutes)

Overview: At the elementary level, content about Islam and other world religions is relevant to studies of diversity in communities, holidays around the world, and introductory history lessons. This module includes three common history topics from grade 3-6 curricula, a set of lessons on Muslim holidays, and suggestions for cross-curricular teaching through literature and art activities. Each of the subtopics is associated with teaching materials.

  • Muslim Celebrations around the World
  • Poetry, Music, and Stories
  • Art activities
  • Mansa Musa and West African history for grades 3-6
  • Muslim Cities Then and Now for grades 3-6
  • Traders and Explorers in Wooden Ships for grades 3-6

Module 6: Islam in the Media: Fostering Critical Thinking (45–60 minutes)

Overview: Media literacy education often slips through the cracks, and even well organized teachers may feel that their students could use more practice in evaluating what they read, see, and hear about current events. This module shows how a needed skill can be combined with required content through classroom work on a high-interest topic of critical importance to our time.  Beginning by introducing available models for media literacy education, the module gets participants working on several problems using recent examples of print, visual and broadcast journalism, utilizing recognized methods of examination.

  • Available curricula for media education and unpacking the news
  • Planet Islam, or “Where is the Muslim World?”
  • Islam on the Internet – a field guide
  • Images of Muslims: Typing and Stereotyping
  • Dragging words through the mud: misunderstanding terms
  • Polling information from Muslim countries

NEW! Module 7: Seven Centuries of Islamic Spain in Europe (45-60 minutes)

Overview: Al-Andalus, the Arabic name for Islamic Spain, is a topic that appears in most world history standards, and an important dimension of European geography and culture. It was a place characterized by mingling of Muslims, Christians and Jews living under a framework of legal and religious tolerance. On the far western edge of the lands under Muslim rule, connections to trade, arts, sciences and industry brought a high level of civilization to the region, which brought forth large cities This module features the documentary film Cities of Light with its free, standards-based, online resources for teachers. Teaching tools such as maps, timelines, guides and background pieces are introduced. Participants will explore the multimedia resources in the arts, sciences, and material culture of Spain that have enriched our own world in surprising ways.

  • Historical maps, timelines and geographic background on the Iberian Peninsula
  • Historical Background on the Abrahamic faiths
  • Tolerance and Intolerance in the History of Al-Andalus
  • Exploration of Material Culture and Sciences of Al-Andalus Andalusian Poetry
  • Legacies and Transfers of Knowledge from Islamic Spain to Europe
  • Poetry, Prose, and the Arts
  • How Do Modern Historians Assess Islamic Spain’s Significance?

Module 8: Mini Module Mix and Match: Teaching about Cultural Interactions between East and West: Case Studies from the Arts, Technology and Trade (15-20 minutes each segment; three = 1 module)

Overview: Teaching about cultural interactions as a distinct topic of study is one of the hallmarks of innovative world history education. Integration of the arts and sciences into history instruction is widely valued, both because it is enriching, entertaining and rich in skill development. These modules explore objects, places, literary forms and individuals that exemplify interactions among human societies. Students hone their skills at analyzing primary sources while they gain insights into the inter-cultural connections that made the modern world. These models also introduce the creative scholarship of individual historians.

  1. The Story of Classical Knowledge and Its Transfer to Europe
  2. Across the Eras into Your Shopping Cart: global cash crops and world history
  3. Teaching through the Prism of Travel Accounts
  4. Images of the Orient: Nineteenth Century European Travelers to Muslim Lands
  5. Paper Trail: Transfer of Paper-making Technology and Its Impact
  6. Arts of the Renaissance: Islamic Influence in Ceramics, Carpets, Glass, and Metalwork

NEW! Module 9: The Indian Ocean in World History: Cultural Interactions across the Eras (either 60 or 90 minutes)

Overview: The module explores the online teaching resource on the Indian Ocean in World History on which the presenter was lead developer.  The site was reviewed in the online journal World History Connected at and on the Center for History and New Media World History Sources: Finding World History at The session models use of this resource by sampling primary and secondary source documents and artifacts, and engaging workshop participants to use and discuss these examples from a variety of eras in history from prehistory to the present. The site serves upper elementary and secondary classrooms in world history, geography and cultures courses that are required in most curricula. It consists of a visual interface with a map for each era on which icons linked to primary source excerpts and historical accounts of each era, with images for each type of icon:

  • objects, documents, travel literature, trade goods
  • routes of migration and trade
  • geographic features & phenomena
  • scientific and historiographical methods of exploring the past

To facilitate exploration of the material, the objects on the map are linked to skills lessons, and other support materials are available on the site, in addition to bibliographies and sources for further exploration of the topic.
The Indian Ocean Basin is an emerging topic in world history and geography curriculum, but one that has few teaching resources in texts or elsewhere, and none with complete chronological range. Lessons highlight primary source exploration that fosters use of evidence and critical thinking skills. Working with the direct evidence of early global trade and migration links helps paint a realistic picture of world history, while the session demonstrates how to use this topic as a platform for integrating history, geography, arts and science.