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Lessons from the Middle East: Using Technology for Protest and Political Activism

Author: Zoelene Hill


West Philadelphia High School

Year: 2011

Seminar: The Middle East Through the Eyes of Women

Grade Level: 9-12

Keywords: Middle East, Political Activism, Technology, women

School Subject(s): Geography, Global History, Social Studies

Throughout the Middle East, women are using cell phone and Internet technology to inform eachother and the world of the unjust conditions in their homes, economies and their nations’ politics. Technology is being used to assemble, rally and petition local and global support for their causes. Technology is providing the tools and platforms from which women of the Middle East, literally and figuratively, become unveiled, their voices amplified, and their opinions and protests globally publicized.

Philadelphia’s children suffer from environments of poverty, including violence, drug abuse, low-levels of education and high unemployment. Philadelphia’s children are becoming increasingly frustrated with their schools, communities and city. Their lack of engagement with and esteem for their community has become exemplified in the recent occurrence of violent flash mobs – which have been facilitated by cell phone and Internet social media sites to communication gathering locations.

This unit seeks to elucidate the connection between the experience of Philadelphia youth and women of the Middle East and their use of mobile and Internet technology in acts of rebellion. These seemingly very different populations both experience limitations on their freedom and opportunities. Both populations have similar tools to protest their respective conditions, however one population uses these tools to ameliorate their condition, while the other misuses the tools and exacerbates their condition.

This unit is designed for high school students and uses geographical training and historical and current event analysis to encourage students to reflect on the lessons from the revolutionary actions of women of the Middle East to serve as a guide for their own personal and collective advocacy. References for differentiated instructional materials in the forms of video, images, texts, maps, graphic organizers, written assignments and projects to appeal to the various learning styles of students is included in the appendix.

Download Unit: 11.04.03.pdf

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Full Unit Text
Content Objectives


Throughout the Middle East, women are using the technology of cell phones and the Internet to inform each other and the world of the unjust conditions in their homes, economies and in their nations’ politics.  Women are also using this technology to assemble, rally and petition local and global support for their causes.  In nations and cultures that are known to sometimes limit the freedoms of women, technology has provided tools and platforms from which women of the Middle East literally and figuratively become unveiled, their voices amplified, and their opinions and protests globally publicized.

Children in Philadelphia, like most children in low-income, urban schools also have limitations on their freedom and opportunities in comparison to the national average.  Philadelphia’s children suffer from environments of poverty, which include violence, drug abuse, low-levels of education and high unemployment.   Philadelphia’s children are becoming increasingly frustrated with their schools, communities and the City.  Their lack of engagement with and esteem for their community has become exemplified in the recent occurrence of violent flash mobs.  In these flash mobs, young people communicate with each other using cell phones and internet social media to assemble in a designated location.  While flash mobs are not unique to Philadelphia’s teens, the violent nature of Philadelphia’s teen flash mobs has gained negative national notoriety, caused increased limitations on teen’s freedoms and exacerbated the negative reputation of our city’s youths.

At first, it may be difficult to see the connection between the revolutionary efforts of women in the Middle East and flash mobs of Philadelphia teenagers. However this unit seeks to elucidate this connection.  These seemingly very different populations both experience limitations on their freedom and opportunities.  Both populations have similar tools to protest their respective conditions, but one population uses these tools to ameliorate their condition, while the other misuses the tools and exacerbates their condition.

This unit is intended to provide background information and guidance to support the infusion of revolutions of women of the Middle East into all four of the School District of Philadelphia’s core social studies courses: World History, African-American History, American History and Social Science.   This unit uses geographical training, historical and current event analysis to encourage students to reflect on the lessons from the revolutionary actions of women of the Middle East to serve as a guide for their own personal and collective advocacy.  This unit will provide references for differentiated instructional materials in the forms of video, images, texts,maps, graphic organizers, written assignments and projects to appeal to the various learning styles of students.


Each morning, many schools throughout the nation undergo the arduous process of ushering each student through full body scans to ensure that they are not bringing contraband materials into the school. Today, the most popular contraband materials include mp3 players, cell phones, smart phones and other devices allowing for internet connectivity. These items are not allowed into the school because they are believed to distract students and disrupt the learning process.  Despite this daily effort, students continue to develop crafty ways of smuggling these items into the school.  Our students are very aware and combatant of the limitations being placed on their social connectivity to the world.  For this reason, I believe that this unit which shows how women in the Middle East use these coveted technological tools and resources to protest and promote political activism would immediately grab the attention of our students.

This unit seeks to expose students to the economic and political condition of the Middle Eastern nations of Egypt and Iran. This unit also seeks to describe women’s use of technology to enact various methods of tacit and explicit protest.  Finally, this unit provides recommendations on how to encourage student reflection on and application of lessons of constructive use of technology to ameliorate their own restrictive conditions.


This unit’s research begins by discussing the women’s role and contribution in Egypt’s 2011 revolution.  The research finds that as a result of technological advances in the areas of telecommunications, internet and social media, women of all ages and socio-economic statuses were able to be active supporters and participants in their nation’s revolution.  While phone and internet outlets have allowed all people, men and women, to become active participants in protest, this unit focuses on the role of women because, as a traditionally disempowered population, their strides in public protest and advances in advocacy deserve particular attention.

The research then discusses the explosion of the use of internet in Iran. Over the past twenty years, simultaneous to repressive and dictatorial political regimes, there has been a dramatic growth in access to the Internet and the development of weblogs. These privately created websites have allowed the people of Iran to exercise a range of freedoms of speech; from artistic displays and affinity group discussions, to political change and gender equality advocacy.   Operating within a controlling and repressive political environment and culture, the internet provides the people of Iran, particularly the women, a cyber-veil of anonymity behind which they are more willing to speak their minds.


In January 2011, the Egyptian revolution erupted.   Images of thousands of angry protesters flooding the streets of Cairo flooded American homes awakening our general ignorance of the economy and politics of Egypt.  In addition to traditional news broadcasts, people around the world were exposed to first-hand images and videos captured and shared by Egyptian protesters.  Available through traditional news sources, social media sites and through personal websites, these images allowed the world to see what the Egyptian protesters were seeing and experiencing.  These images showed a range of people: bloodied, bruised, empowered, defiant, men, women, old, young, veiled, unveiled, soldier and civilian, equally participating in the protests.   The images of the women were particularly striking because they contradict the stereotype of women of the Middle East as disempowered.  These images were also striking because the gendered public is less accustomed to seeing women engaged in and victims of battle.  Fueled by compelling images from protesters, the American media and people were rapt by the Egyptian Revolution.  Through 18 days of organized protest, by making their voices heard and by garnering international attention and support, the Egyptian people were able to force the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, who had been president for nearly 30 years.

Hosni Mubarak was the fourth President of Egypt, a former Air Force Commander, and was the Vice-President under President Anwar Sadat.   Following the 1981 assassination of President Sadat, Mubarak was elevated to the office of president.   Biographical profiles by Al Jazeera, BBC and the New York Times describe Mubarak’s governance as corrupt, oppressive of dissent and in violation of human rights:

In effect, Hosni Mubarak ruled as a quasi-military leader when he took power. For his entire period in office, he kept the country under emergency law, giving the state sweeping powers of arrest and curbing basic freedoms….Mubarak argued the draconian regime was necessary to combat Islamist terrorism, which came in waves during the decades of Mr. Mubarak’s rule – often targeting Egypt’s lucrative tourism sector (BBC news, 24May11).

The protesters in Egypt spoke of the same deep-seated frustrations of an enduring, repressive government that drove Tunisians to revolt: rampant corruption, injustice, high unemployment and the simple lack of dignity accorded them by the state (New York Times, 28Jan11).

Egypt is still plagued by rampant unemployment, with millions living in poverty…Opposition groups said the NDP’s business cartel used their authority to monopolise the country’s wealth, while most of the Egyptian people are living in despair (English.  Al-Jazeera 11Feb11).

Suffering from this corrupt government, the people of Egypt were compelled to revolt.

The images of Egyptian women in revolt are striking; however, this revolution was not the first in which Egyptian women actively and openly participated.  In 1919, led by nationalist Huda Sha’rawi, women publically protested British rule and occupation of Egypt. However, not all women participated in the 1919 revolution.  Participants were typically limited to upper class, educated women who had been exposed to nationalist and feminist thought and discussion.

The Revolution of 2011 is different from the 1919 Revolution in purpose and participants. During the Revolution of 2011, the people were not ousting a foreign, colonial power; rather they were ousting their own corrupt president.   The Revolution of 2011 was not limited to the upper, educated class; rather it garnered support of women from all socio-economic, age and educational backgrounds.  Mass participation of women was made possible because between 1919 and 2011, women gained a more equal voice and position in Egyptian society.  Policies enacted after 1952, mandating free and compulsory education for boys and girls had tremendous effects bringing girls and women more into the fold of society.  Another major impetus of mass female participation in the Revolution of 2011 was the use of technology to organize and inform.

Development in telecommunications and computers brought the revolution into women’s homes.   Of the 82 million total Egyptian population, approximately 20 million or just under 25% of the population have internet access and 55 million or 67% have mobile cellular devices (   By virtue of this access to information, women who may not have been a part of activist organizations were able to receive information and participate in the revolution.  Those women initially hesitant to participate may have been stirred after seeing the images and videos posted of other female participants.  In the article, “Inside Egypt’s Facebook Revolt,” activist Ahmed Salah explains that in a country where political activists have been arrested, beaten and have gone missing “online activism, such as the push coming from popular Facebook groups, was an integral part of the overall effort” (  Online activism and publicity allowed leaders to rally and organize without becoming prime targets of government repression.

In addition to facilitating communication and organization for the revolution within the country, technological advances allowed protesters to upload images and videos from the protest, making them globally available.  The global transmission of text messages, phone calls, websites, weblogs, videos and viral images stirred emotion and inspired action in support of women’s causes in the Middle East.  In an MSNBC article, “Power of Twitter, Facebook in Egypt Crucial,” American U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice says: “The power of this technology, the power of social networking to channel and champion public sentiment, has been more evident in the past few weeks than ever before…” ( A testament to the power and influence of cell phones and the internet in the revolution is the fact that the Egyptian government shut off access to this technology during the revolution.

While cell phones and the internet allowed women to communicate with each other and the world, women’s roles in the revolution were not limited to online activism.  An Al Jazeera article “Women of the Revolution” (19 Feb 2011) provides first-hand accounts of women’s roles and experiences in the revolution. This article describes a cognizance of the importance of proliferating images and video from the frontlines as well as a sense of equality forged between men and women fighting together on the frontlines.

My friend and I had the role of ensuring that all of the videos and pictures from Tahrir were uploaded…to make sure the images made it out so everyone could see what was happening in the square….Pre-January 25 whenever we would attend protests I would always be told by the men to go to the back to avoid getting injured and that used to anger me. But since January 25 people have begun to treat me as an equal. There was this unspoken admiration for one another in the square.  – Mona Seif, 24, researcher

The women were also taking care of the wounded in makeshift clinics in the square. Some women were on the front line throwing rocks with the men. I was on the front line documenting the battle with my camera. It was like nothing that I have ever seen or experienced before….I went to meetings and took part in protests. I learned very quickly that most of the strikes in the labour movement were started by women.  In my experience women play a pivotal role in all protests and strikes. Whenever violence erupts, the women would step up and fight the police, and they would be beaten just as much as the men.Gigi Ibrahim, 24, political activist

When the men saw that women were fighting in the front line that changed their perception of us and we were all united. We were all Egyptians now. Salma El Tarzi, 33, filmmaker

It is exactly these images of women in the frontline of the revolution that encouraged other women to participate, caused men to respect women as equals in the struggle, and forced the world to take notice and support their cause.

Iran – Weblogistan

The Islamic Republic of Iran provides another example of citizens using technology for political activism.  During the1979 Islamic Revolution, a popular movement overthrew the monarchy of Shah Muhammad Reza Pahlavi and instituted an Islamic Republic under the leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini. Khomeini was unwavering in his determination to transform Iran into a theocratic-ruled Islamic state.  He appointed Iran’s Shīite clerics to develop governmental policy. Opposition to the government was suppressed, with people being systematically imprisoned or killed.  The current president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has maintained strict control of the country and has continued censorship of speech.   With strict controls on their speech, Iranians are turning to the internet to speak their mind.

In 2006, Iran was ranked ninth in the world for the number of weblogs.  A weblog, commonly called a blog, is a website containing the writer’s or group of writers’ own experiences, observations, opinions, etc.  The Persian Weblog Service Provider (WSP) reports hosting over 180,000 registered weblogs and the WSP Blogfa records traffic of over two million visitors a day” (Hendelman-Baavur, 2007).  According to Ben Macintyre at The Times, “Farsi is the 28th most spoken language in the world, but it now [2005] ties with French as the second most used language in the blogosphere” (  The surge of Iran-based weblogs caused Iranians and some academics to name the Iranian blogosphere “Weblogistan.”

The rate at which the Iranian blogosphere has grown can be attributed to three major causes.  First, there is high rate of internet access.  From the 1990s to 2000s the government invested in local telecommunications development.  At the same time, increased access to computers from Asia and internet service providers made Iran prime for the explosion of blogs.  Second, Iran has a highly literate and very young population.  Of Iran’s total population, 77% is literate with a median age of approximately 26 years old ( The popularity of blogs was “passed by word of mouth, email, newsgroups, and even graffiti of URLs (Uniform Resource Locators) on street walls, postboxes, and bus seats” (Hendelman-Baavur, 2001). Third, weblogs allow women, ethnic minorities, and otherwise marginalized groups to express themselves with relative anonymity and freedom.  In a country where speech, especially speech of dissent, is highly regulated, blogs provide people with a welcome platform to freely voice their opinions.

A 2002 BBC article, Web gives a voice to Iranian women, (, 6/17/2002) emphasized the significance of weblogs for women.  It reported that “for the first time in the contemporary history of Iran, women can express themselves freely, even if it is not in their real name.”  A female blogger reported in the article: “Women in Iran cannot speak out frankly because of our Eastern culture and there are some taboos just for women, such as talking about sex or the right to choose your partner.  I have the opportunity to talk about these things and share my experiences with others.”  Unfortunately, written in 2002, this article reflects a time when there was no government censorship of blog content. This has changed drastically. In 2003, the government began to regulate blogs and take action against bloggers.  Bloggers have been arrested on charges ranging from morality violations to insulting leaders of the Islamic Republic. One blogger was sentenced to a year in jail and 124 lashes for a weblog featuring satirical political cartoons (Macintyre, 2005).

While blogs allow for some degree of anonymity, they have not escaped the watchful eye of the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology.  Initially, the growth of Iranian blogs was unfettered by government censorship. However, in recent years, the government has developed aggressive policies of censorship.  The government uses powerful software programs to filter the net and block access to provocative blogs (Macintyre, 2005). Not all blogs are politically charged.  A study conducted by the Harvard University Berkman Center for Internet and Society reports that today, Weblogistan’s  general topics include poetry, reformist politics, secular/expatriate, conservative politics, religious youth, cyber-Shia and mixed networks (

We are only beginning to see the role that technology can play in revolutionizing our world.  As seen in the examples of Egypt and Iran, technology is outpacing the control and censorship of traditional power structures.  Technology is allowing once distant and neglected populations to have their voice heard in a global forum.  This unit seeks to relay these examples of empowerment and revolution to students to inspire their own action.

Course Relevance

While the revolutions of women of the Middle East are not explicitly addressed in the Planning and Scheduling Timeline, the topic can be addressed to support units within the four core social science courses.

World History

Unit 2: Power, Authority and Governance

In this unit, students are asked to “evaluate the relationships between governance and leadership while exploring questions such as: What is power? What forms does it take? Who holds it? How is it gained, used legitimized and justified?” A case study of the role of women in the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 will allow students to think creatively and construct meaning of new concepts and ideas. Students will also apply what they have learned to reflect of their own life experiences with power, nationalism (or in their case neighborhoodism), authority and revolution.

African-American History

Unit 6: How to Apply Social Studies Skills and 21st Century Skills to the Study of the Freedom Movement

This unit asks that students: (1) analyze historical and contemporary speeches; (2) evaluate the strategies employed by various groups at different times for mobilizing large groups of people to march; and (3) evaluate the different methodologies of those involved in the Civil Rights Movement. This unit’s focus on speeches, mass marches and methodologies of organization of the Freedom Movement lends perfectly to the infusion of the Egyptian Revolution of 2011.  Additionally, students will be able to use lesson learned in the Freedom Movement and the Egyptian Revolution to shape their view of their contemporary experience and their own degree of empowerment.

American History

Unit 8: Conflicting American Dreams: The United States from 1950 to Present

This unit asks that students study how young people participated in the movements for civil and human rights. There is a focus on cooperative efforts of individuals and groups who challenged governmental policies and American attitudes when faced with poverty and social injustice.   Additionally, this unit looks at the use of information technology and U.S. and Middle East relations.  This unit lends to the infusion of the Egyptian Revolution of 2011.  Students will be able to apply lessons from the various youth-led movements to their own lives.

Social Science

Unit 4: Rights and Responsibilities of Citizens

This course, typically offered to seniors, asks students to engage in high order thinking and writing.  This unit asks students to write about civic engagement and how individuals and groups exercise their right to assemble and petition to express their issues, concerns and ideas about governance and the political process. This unit could accommodate both the Egyptian Revolution and Weblogistan.  While the censorship of the Iranian government may seem distant, it is comparable to the internet censorship of websites by the school district.

Classroom Activities

The activities provided in this provide suggestions of how to introduce the topic of Middle Eastern women’s use of technology for protest and political activism to high school students.  Depending on your specific subject (World History, African-American History, etc.) some activities may be more relevant than others. Teachers may choose activities that are most fitting for their class and tailor as they see necessary.

Activity 1: Identify Countries of the Middle East on a Map

Purpose:  To build student geographic skills. Many of our students do not know where other countries are located. This activity allows them to gain familiarity with the names of Middle Eastern countries and their location on a map.

Instructions:  Provide students with blank maps and texts or other sources of labeled maps. Allow students to work individually or with a partner to label individual maps. For some students, allowing them to add color to their map may be helpful.  Allow students 2 or 3 days to study and review the labeling of the map.  It may also be helpful if you provide students with blank maps for individual study.

Assessment: Label a map of the Middle East. This can be administered as a quiz.

Activity 2: KWL Chart of Egypt

Purpose: To access student pre-knowledge of Egypt and to review lesson. Many of our students should have had some exposure to Egypt in their middle school social studies curriculum, while others may even be aware of the revolution.  This activity gives students time to recall what they already know and reflect upon what else they would like to know.  At the end of the lesson students can use KWL to express what they have learned.

Instructions: KWL charts often provide good introductions and conclusions to a lesson.  This activity can be used as a Do Now activity and re-visited as a closing exit ticket.  Depending on your classroom system, you can either provide students with a KWL graphic organizer handout, or allow them to complete the KWL on their own, in their class binder.

Assessment: Completed KWL Chart containing 3 items in each chart

Activity 3: 5 Ws Image Analyses – Images of Women Engaged in Egyptian Revolution

Purpose: Many of our students are visual learners.  Allowing them to see by using context clues to make hypotheses about the stories being told in the images is a great way to get them engaged in a new topic. Image analysis is a great introduction to text analysis.  Additionally, images and videos were key instruments in gaining momentum for the revolution, so these images serve as primary source documents.

Instructions:  Provided in the appendices are websites that contain images from the Egyptian revolution. To display these images to students, you have three options.

  1. Depending on your classroom technology, you could provide the images via PowerPoint.
  2. If you do not have the technology in your classroom, print images. Provide each child with one image for analysis.
  3. Display images around room and do a gallery walk- allowing students to walk around the room until they find an image they wish to analyze. Be sure to have enough images so that not too many students crowd around a given image.

Instruct students to respond to the 5 Ws (who, when, where, why, what) describing the image.  Depending on the time, you may ask students to respond to more than one image.  Allow students to share their interpretations of the images.  Also, allow some time for you to clarify what is generally taking place in the images, or provide students with a short written description of the revolution.

Assessment: Completed 5W Image Analysis

Activity 4: Use international news sources to determine the causes of the Egyptian revolution (Do Now, Reading Activity, Pair Share, Closing)

Purpose: It is important for students to access and gain familiarity with multiple news sources.  It is also important for students to see that even with recent news, reporting accounts vary.  This activity emphasizes the importance of referencing multiple sources during research.  Students will be reading texts to find the reported cause of the revolution.

Instructions: It may be helpful to begin the lesson with the Do Now question: “Why is it important to reference multiple sources when answering historical questions?” In answering this question, students will understand the rationale for referencing newspapers from around the world to find the causes of the revolution. Provided in the appendices and annotated bibliography are several links to news sources reporting on the causes of the Egyptian revolution.  Depending on the reading level of your students, you may be able to print directly from the website, or you may have to do some editing to make the text accessible to your students.   Provide each student with a printed copy of an article.  Allow students to mark up or highlight the text to facilitate reading.  Each student should have their own response to the questions.  Teacher should float around the room to ensure that students are doing independent work and not copying.

Instruct students to pair with another student with a different news source. Allow students to share their causes.  In closing, have students write down what new information they received from their partner.

Assessment: Written response describing the causes of the Egyptian revolution. Written response describing new information from partner.

Activity 5: Egyptians’ Use of Facebook and Cell Phones

(Do Now, Article and Reading Comprehension and Thought Questions)

Purpose:  Most students have cellular and smart phones and may be unaware of the potential power they hold at their fingertips.  Having already seen images of the thousands of people who participated in the revolution, reading about how these people were able to organize, specifically through the use of cell phones and Facebook, will surprise students and hopefully cause them to think about their own use of cell phones and Facebook.

Instructions:  Begin with the Do Now question: “In your opinion, what is the most powerful function of the latest cell phone? In your opinion, why is this function powerful?” These questions will allow them to think about the power they hold in their hands.  Included in the annotated bibliography are links to news articles that discuss the power and influence of cell phones and technologies.  You can choose to provide all students with the same article, or to provide students with different articles.  Providing articles are varied reading levels may be helpful if there is a wide range of reading levels in the class.  Also, to facilitate reading, encourage students to mark up and highlight important information in the text. Some sample questions below provide some guidance on the type of reading comprehension and thought questions that can accompany the articles.

  1. What is the name of your article?
  2. According to the article, what was the role of Facebook in the Egyptian revolution?
  3. According to the article, what was the role of cell phones in the Egyptian revolution?
  4. In your opinion why did the Egyptian people find it helpful to use these technologies?
  5. According to the article what did the government do to these technologies? Why did they do it?
  6. Prior to reading this article, did you think that cell phones and Facebook could be used to organize a national revolution?
  7. Do you believe that young people in Philadelphia would be able to assemble a protest using only cell phones and Facebook? Why or why not?
  8. What additional information would you like to have to better understand the information in this article?

To reinforce good habits of the mind, encourage students to read the questions first, before reading the article. This way, students will understand the purpose of their reading.

Assessment: Written responses to reading comprehension and thought questions.

Activity 6: Extra-Credit/Homework Facebook Assignment

Purpose: Students should not only read about how women are using Facebook for political activism, they should see it and engage with it.  This extra credit/homework assignment provides various activities for students to engage with tools of revolution.

Instructions:  Teacher must first use Facebook account to friend the Women of Egypt page.

1)  Instruct students to use their personal Facebook accounts to friend the Women of Egypt page.  2) Students can select an article posted on the wall. Read article and write a 5-7 sentence summary of the article.

3) Students can also select 3 images from the photo section of the page. Complete a 5Ws Chart for each image.

4) Respond to the question: “Even after the revolution, how have Egyptians continued to use this Facebook site to advocate for their cause?”

In order to verify that students have friended the page, teacher much first be a friend of the page.  For students without a Facebook account who would like to take advantage of this assignment, have a few printed articles on hand for them to read and summarize.


1) Check if students are a friend of the Women of Egypt page.

2) Summary of article.

3)5Ws of 3 Images.

4) Written response to question #4.

Activity 7:  Compare and Contrast Egyptian Revolution and Philly Flash Mobs

(Article, Venn Diagrams)

 Purpose:  This lesson asks that students reflect upon what they have learned about the Egyptian revolution (its causes, its methods for assembly and the effect) to compare and contrast this movement to flash mobs, a movement within Philadelphia that uses the same tools, with a different outcome.

Instructions: If you are completing this activity after activity 5, it may be helpful to review students’ response to the question: “Do you believe that young people in Philadelphia would be able to assemble a protest using only cell phones and Facebook? Why or why not?” as an introduction to the lesson.  If students did not complete activity 5, they will need to have an article describing the use of cell phones and Facebook in Egyptian revolution as well as an article describing the use of cell phones and Facebook in flash mobs. Links to relevant articles are provided in the appendix. Instruct students to read articles and complete two Venn diagrams, one comparing and contrasting the causes of these movements and another comparing and contrasting the effects of these movements.

Assessment: Complete ‘Cause’ Venn diagram and ‘Effect’ Venn diagram with at least 3 responses in each circle.

 Activity 8:  Design and Execute Your Own Movement!

(Group project with extra-credit component)

Purpose:  With the example of the Egyptian revolution, students should have the opportunity to use the same technology to create their own movement.  In this project, students are asked to identify an issue of importance to them, clearly assess the issue’s causes, actors and suggestions for change.  As a project extension, students are asked to create a Facebook page to share information and encourage change.


Allow students to assemble in groups of 2-4 people.

Instruct students to select an area of focus: school, community, police brutality, youth issues, safe sex, health or other.

Instruct students to reflect upon their selected area of focus and provide written responses to the following questions:

  1. Develop a list of your grievances – what is wrong?
  2. Develop a list of the people/actions that are causing the problem(s).
  3. Develop a list of the people/actions that can help solve the problem(s).
  4. What can your peers do to support your effort?
  5. How can you use Facebook, internet resources and cell phones to help your cause?
  6. It is commonly said that a picture is worth a thousand words. What are three images that you think would help inform people of your cause?

Students in a group may designate a scribe or take turns writing down response.

Extra Credit:  Allow groups to actually create a Facebook page for their cause. The Facebook page must include at least 3 images relevant to their cause. The Facebook page should include answers to questions # 1 through 4. While group participation is best, only one student needs to create the actual page.  The group who can get the most people to friend their page will win additional incentive.

Assessment: Written responses to questions. Extra credit: Creation of Facebook page that includes required information and images.  Extra-extra credit: Award an additional incentive to the group with the Facebook page that receives the most “friends” and “likes.”

Activity 9: Internet Anonymity and Censorship (Weblogistan)

(Article, Small Discussion Groups, Three 100 Word Written Responses)

Purpose: This activity is intended for 12th grade Social Science course.  In learning about the rights and responsibilities of citizens it is important for students to consider the fact that freedoms vary from country to country. This activity requires students to read and discuss in small groups the censorship that other nations face.  Finally, students will be asked to reflect on their own experiences with censorship and evaluate whether or not they believe it supports the common good.

Instructions:   Instruct students to divide into groups of 3 to 5.  Provided in the appendix are articles about censorship in Weblogistan. Provide groups of students with articles to read and discuss.  Allow students to read and respond to following questions:

  1. What freedom is being limited?
  2. How is this freedom being limited?
  3. Why is this freedom being limited?

Allow students in small groups to discuss their thoughts on the article and their responses to the question.

Instruct students to individually write a 100 word response to each of the following questions

  • Do you believe that the Iranian government’s censorship of the internet supports the common good? Why or why not? In your response, you may want to discuss whether you believe that there is a universal “common good” or whether you believe that what is considered to be “common good” in one setting is not necessarily the “common good” in another.
  • Do you believe that the School District of Philadelphia’s censorship of internet access supports the “common good” of Philadelphia students? Why or why not?
  • In what ways is the SDP censorship similar to censorship in Weblogistan? How is it different?

Assessment: Written responses to article questions and three 100 word responses


“Profile: Hosni Mubarak,” BBC News, 24 May 2011.

Kirkpatrick, David D. “Mubarak Orders Crackdown, With Revolt Sweeping Egypt,” New York Times, 28 Jan 2011.

“FOCUS: Profile: Hosni Mubarak,” Al Jazeera, 11 Feb 2011.

“The WORLD FACTBOOK: Africa: Egypt,” The CIA World Factbook, 23 Aug 2011.

Giglio, Mike. “Inside Egypt’s Facebook Revolt,” The Daily Beast, 27 Jan 2011.

Popkin, Helen A.S. “Power of Twitter, Facebook in Egypt crucial, says U.N. rep,” TECHNOLOGY on, 11 Feb 2011.

Naib, Fatma. “Women of the revolution,” Al Jazeera (English), 19 Feb 2011.

Hendeman-Baavur, Liora. “Promises and Perils of Weblogistan: Online Personal Journals and the Islamic Republic of Iran,” The Middle East Review of International Affairs, Vol. 11, No. 2, Article 6/8, June 2007.

Macintyre, Ben. “Mullahs versus the bloggers: The explosive growth of youthful, irreverent online diaries has alarmed Iran’s hardline Government,” The Times, 23 Dec 2005.

Hermida, Alfred. “Web gives a voice to Iranian Women,” BBC News World Edition, 17 June 2011.

Al Jazeeera

Using non-American media resources may often provide you with a different account of the news.  For news from the Middle East, Al Jazeera is the preeminent news source. Al Jazeera is the first international English-language news channel to broadcast across the globe from the Middle East. Headquartered in Doha, Qatar, it was launched on November 15, 2006 to more than 80 million households worldwide, as a spin off from Al Jazeera Arabic. This news station broadcasts to more than 220 million households on six continents in more than 100 countries. Known as the channel of reference for the Middle East and Africa, Al Jazeera has unique access to some of the world’s most troubled and controversial locations.

Timeline: Egypt’s Revolution

This Al Jazeera electronic article provides a daily account of major events in the 2011 revolution.

Women of the Revolution

This link to an Al Jazeera article provides first-hand accounts of five young women who were at the frontline of the Egyptian revolution. They discuss their roles and their experiences.

Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Internet and Democracy, Harvard University

This website provides background information and an interactive mapping of subjects discussed on the Iranian blogosphere. While not specific to women, this website shows the diversity of interests discussed.

School District of Philadelphia Social Studies Planning and Scheduling Timeline

These PDFs provide extensive outlines of the district’s curriculum for the social studies courses. It contains course descriptions, unit outlines, big ideas, daily learning goals, PSSA alignment and links to other resources to support instruction.


Graphic Organizers/ Instructional Tools/ Website Links

Activity 1: Map of the Middle East

 Enchanted Learning Outline Map of Middle East

World Atlas Outline Map of Middle East

(very user friendly, but does not include Egypt)


Activity 2: KWL Egypt











Activity 3: Five Ws Image Analysis












Links to websites for images×306505&az=view_all


Link to videos of women in revolution


Activity 4: Articles on Causes of Revolution

Provided below are links to news sources from various countries describing causes of the Egyptian Revolution.


Al Jazeera:  Understanding Egypt’s Revolution,


China Daily: Military Holds Key to Future of Egypt,


Philadelphia Inquirer: World View: Should the US Support the Uprising in Egypt?


Activity 5: Egyptian’s Use of Facebook and Cell Phones

 Links to articles describing the use Facebook and Cell Phones in Egyptian Revolution

BlackBerry Internet access blocked in Egypt as protests continue for third day

Facebook and Twitter Blocked in Egypt

Inside Egypt’s Facebook Revolt

Internet Access & SMS Blocked in Egypt as Protests Escalate

Power of Twitter, Facebook in Egypt crucial, says U.N. rep


Activity 7:  Copare and Contrast Egyptian Revolution and Philly Flash Mobs

Link to Philadelphia Flash Mob Article

Mobs Are Born as Word Grows by Text Message


Activity 9:  Censorship in Weblogistan and Philadelphia

 Links to articles on Weblogistan censorship

Web gives a voice to Iranian women

Weblogistan: a new path to self-expression in Iran

SDP policy on cell phones

SDP policy on blocked websites