Afghanistan in Poetry, Literature, and Nonfiction Texts

Author: Elisabeth Raab


School of the Future

Year: 2010

Seminar: History of the Modern Middle East

Grade Level: 9

Keywords: Afghan Star, conflict, Dexter Filkins, modern Afghanistan, The Forever War, The Kite Runner

School Subject(s): English

This unit is intended for high school students, particularly 9th graders, to be implemented in English 1 class. It is meant to build reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills, the content being linked by a common subject: the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan, its effects in Afghanistan itself, and the similarities and differences that exist between American and Afghan culture. The unit begins with some background building, using reference materials to illuminate basic facts about Afghanistan, its culture, and the history of the conflict there. Following are some classroom activities that will engage students in exploring the differences of perspective between Afghans and Americans. Students will participate in a screening of, Afghan Star, a very intriguing documentary about a popular American-Idol style television show in Afghanistan. Following the film, they will read poems by Afghan and American poets about Afghanistan, to build poetry reading skills and explore contrasting points of view. The last two activities in the unit relate to reading and understanding narrative texts about Afghanistan, both nonfiction and fiction. Students will read sections of the first chapter of Dexter Filkins’ book The Forever War and participate in activities related to Kite Runner, the bestselling 2003 novel by Khaled Hosseini. The Kite Runner activities can provide closure to the unit because they enable students to display the full body of knowledge they have acquired over the course of the unit.

The goal of this unit is to build skills using content that is relevant and engaging, and for this reason I have chosen this particular set of texts and the timely topic of modern Afghanistan. By participating in the wide variety of activities contained in this unit, my overall hope is that students will come away from this learning experience with reinforcement in several key skill areas, plus knowledge of a topic that is often in the news but little understood. Students will improve their ability to comprehend a variety of texts: reference materials, newspaper articles, nonfiction essays, and fictional works. The activities contain various types of writing prompts as formative assessments, providing students an opportunity to improve their written expression. By working in groups and making informal presentations to their classmates, students will engage in team-building skills as well as become more confident in speaking extemporaneously to a group of their peers.   

Download Unit: raab-unit.pdf

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