HM - Nov. 2016 - McSweeney

Classroom Applications

The Faces and Voices of the Refugee Crisis

by Instructor McSweeney

Grade Level
Middle or High School

World Geography or World History

This lesson, designed to take two 50-minute classes, will help students see refugees as individuals and humans instead of as statistics and a group. Students will analyze the stories of individuals to gain a more complete and empathetic understanding of the experiences of the refugees we see in the news. Students will create a visual representation of refugees and write tweets that share the experiences.

Essential Questions
Who is a refugee?

State and NCHE Habits of Mind
Oklahoma Academic Standards for the Social Studies: Content Standard 4- The student will analyze the world’s peoples and cultures in the context of the human systems in the Eastern Hemisphere. 
NCHE Habits of Mind: Shared Humanity

Students will be able to read stories of refugees and synthesize the information to show that refugees come with individual stories and experiences that shape them and the refugee community.
Assessment: Students will write a response to question, “How have these stories of refugees changed your understanding of who a refugee is?” and also write a tweet using #likeme

Key Concepts / Vocabulary
Migration: Movement from one place to another
Refugee: A person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.
Voluntary Migrant: Those who choose to leave their home for various reasons including economic reasons, family reunification, education, etc.
Internally Displaced Person (IDP): someone who is forced to flee his or her home but who remains within his or her country's borders

See for more information about terms

-    Three large pieces of paper or white boards
-    Students will write tweets on sticky notes and place them on these to organize them
-    Sticky notes
-    Blank paper
-    Colored pencils/crayons for drawing
-    Printed copies of refugee stories
-    Tweet synthesis and assessment sheet
-    This will be used on day 2 as students analyze and synthesize the tweets they wrote on day 1
-    Refugee Story Notes
-    This will be used as students read about their refugee on day 1
-    PowerPoint Guide
-    Provides definitions and prompts to guide the lesson and the students

Refugee Narratives
Mohammed and Amal- 
Mohammed (from Eritrea)- 
Um Nawwaf (at end of article)- 

Day 1

1.    Place students into groups of three. There are enough sources for 10 groups. Provide each group with a piece of blank paper and drawing tools. 3 minutes
2.    Ask each group to draw what they think a refugee looks like. Instruct students to be respectful and appropriate and to caption their picture. 5 minutes
3.    Place pictures throughout the room. Have students do a gallery walk around the room looking at the pictures. Ask each group to come up with three similarities that they see amongst the pictures drawn by the class. 5 minutes
4.    Discuss what students observed and provide a definition of refugees and other terms. These are found in the presentation 10 minutes
5.    Distribute refugee stories to each group. Groups should complete the “Refugee Story Notes” sheet while they read. 10 minutes
6.    Once finished reading, the group will draw a picture of the refugee they just learned about. This picture should include at least three interests or attributes that are important to the individual. Students should consider: qualities, characteristics, background, talents, abilities, dreams, etc. Have students caption their picture so it is not all up to interpretation. Hang these pictures by the originals so students can compare and contrast. 10 minutes
7.    Students will now write three tweets in the voice of the refugee they just read about. Tweets are no more than 140 characters and should include and be about the hashtag. The three topics should be #homesick (tweets about their home), #newhome (tweets about living in the country they are in now), and #thejourney (tweets about their journey to their new home). Tweets can be either positive or negative. Have students write the tweet on sticky notes. 10 minutes
8.    Title each of your three big pieces of paper with one of the hashtags and place these around the room. Have the groups place their tweets on the appropriate piece of paper. During the next class the students will be put in six different groups so they can analyze the tweets and share the stories of the refugee stories they read.

Day 2
In their journals, or on a piece of paper or note card, students will write another tweet. This time they will use #likeme to identify similarities between themselves and the refugee the read about. 3 minutes
9.    Create six groups. Students should not be in the same group as anyone who was in their group the day before. Once in groups, have students share their bell-work while they wait for further instruction. 5 minutes
    a.    Group 1 should be at the #homesick table
    b.    Group 2 will be sharing the refugee story they read yesterday
    c.    Group 3 should be at the #newhome table
    d.    Group 4 will be sharing the refugee story they read yesterday
    e.    Group 5 Should be at the #TheJourney table
    f.    Group 6 will be sharing the refugee story they read yesterday
10.    Groups at a hashtag table will be reading the tweets on the poster and synthesizing them, creating conclusions about refugees based on this information. They should use the tweet synthesis sheet to organize their information. They will write a 2-3 sentence summary of what they find. Meanwhile, the other three groups will be sharing the stories they read the day before. After 10-15 minutes switch Group 1 with 2, group 3 with 4, and group 5 with 6 and repeat the process. Students will only complete one hashtag summary 25-30 minutes
11.    Debrief by sharing summaries and discussing how groups got to that conclusion. Students can fill out the other boxes as the other groups present. Discussion questions could include: 10 minutes
    a.    What surprised you about these refugees?
    b.    How did reading these stories make you feel?
12.    For an assessment, students should answer the question at the bottom of the Tweet synthesis sheet. Have students turn these in. If there is still time, discuss what students learned and their answer to this question 5 minutes

1.    Write a short story about the refugee story you chose
2.    Create a graphic novel about the refugee story you chose
3.    Research local organizations that help refugees in your community


Download Word Version of This Lesson
Download "Refugee Story Notes"
Download "Tweet Synthesis Sheet"
Download "Refugee Lesson Guide" Powerpoint