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In This Issue

Classroom Guide

For students: We hope this guide will help sharpen your reading skills and deepen your understanding of this issue’s articles.

For teachers: We encourage reproduction and adaptation of these ideas, freely and without further permission from Saudi Aramco World, by teachers at any level, whether working in a classroom or through home study.


Class Activities

Theme: Understanding

Two articles in this month's magazine focus on efforts to improve understanding among people of different religions: "Prince of Brotherhood" and "Al-Andalus 2.0." In the following activities, you will explore that theme, first as it relates to the articles, and then as it relates to your own community.

What different methods can improve understanding among people of different religions?

Before you look at specific methods to enhance understanding among people, think about the context in which such efforts take place. Start with "Prince of Brotherhood." When and where did Abd el-Kader live? What was the political situation? What religion was el-Kader? With what other religions did he come into contact? Then think about the context of "Al-Andalus 2.0." Where was the original Al-Andalus? What was convivencia and when did it exist? Why did Second Life members name their community Al-Andalus? Keep your answers in mind as you think about how to improve understanding among people.

Working with another student, make a T-chart. Label one column "Abd el-Kader." In that column, list the different things that he did to enhance understanding and improve relations between Muslims and Christians, and between Algerians and Europeans. Label the other column "Al-Andalus." In it, list the different ways that the Second Life community and its residents try to enhance understanding and improve relations among people of different religions and nationalities.

Look over your chart. With your partner, discuss the different approaches that each article describes. Have one of you take the role of Abd el-Kader, while the other takes the role of a member of SL's online Al-Andalus. When you consider the strategies that your character used, which do you think were most effective? Why do you think so? Which do you think the other person might be able to use in his or her setting as another tool for enhancing understanding? With your partner, role-play a conversation. Tell him or her about one or more strategies that you have found useful for improving relations among people of different religions. Explain how you think that strategy might help in his/her situation. Remember that you want to be enthusiastic and persuasive. You may also have to suspend disbelief if, for example, you are from Second Life and are suggesting that a 19th-century man use a social networking site!

How can you improve understanding among different groups at your school?

Form a group of four or five students. Think about different groups at your school. On what characteristics are the groups based? For example, at some schools, cliques form based on the kinds of activities the students are involved in: athletes hang out with other athletes, while arts-oriented students hang out together, and so on. At other schools, cliques form based on race, ethnicity or national identity. Still other divisions might be based on gender.

Once you've identified the groups at your school, discuss with your grou p what tensions you see between them. What do you think members of each group don't understand about the members of the other group? For example, locally born students might not understand where immigrant students came from and what it's been like for them to adjust to life in a new place, while immigrant students might not understand some local customs, like why people are very reserved. List the areas where you think a lack of understanding exists.

What can you do about the lack of understanding? With your group, brainstorm different strategies you could use to help the people you've identified understand each other better. Include the strategies you've read about in the articles if you think they'd be helpful in your school. Once you've got a list of strategies, discuss with your group the pros and cons of each one. Then choose one or two strategies that you'd like to try out at your school. Write up your plan, being sure to include the following:

  1. Identify the groups you want to work with and explain why there is a need for improved understanding between them.
  2. Describe a strategy you want to use with those groups. Explain why you think the strategy will work, and explain how you plan to deal with any difficulties that you can envision coming up.
  3. Describe the outcome you hope to achieve. What will it look like? How will you know you've achieved it?

Hand in your proposal. Revise it based on feedback from your teacher, and if you get the go-ahead, try it out. If you do, be sure to have guidance and oversight from your teacher, since these activities can be difficult, and tensions might rise before they ease.

Theme: Technology

How can technology create or change communities?

Read "Al-Andalus 2.0" if you haven't already read it. Find the paragraph on page 12 that quotes the Second Life community's intentions in starting Al-Andalus. The paragraph uses some pretty formal language. Translate it into the kind of everyday language you could use to tell someone else about why some residents of Second Life decided to form Al-Andalus. Then discuss with a partner how well you think the community's founders have met their goals so far. Use information from the article as the basis for your conversation.

Now step back and think more broadly about virtual communities. How do you think the virtual Al-Andalus compares with the actual Al-Andalus that existed until the late 15th century. Make a Venn diagram to help you clarify similarities and differences. Think, too, about your own experiences with actual and virtual communities, and make some notes in a journal entry. In what ways are they similar? In what ways do they differ? Do you prefer one over the other? If so, why? Do they fulfill different purposes? If so, what are they?

Write a page that answers these questions: Do you think Al-Andalus in Second Life is a community? Why or why not? What benefits might the virtual Al-Andalus have over the actual historical Al-Andalus? What benefits might the original Al-Andalus have over the virtual version?

How can the Internet change businesses?

Just as the Internet has changed the way we think about community, it has also changed the way business happens. Read "Soaping Up," using reading strategies to help you fully understand the article.

The article explains that the soap business is changing. Find the part of the article that explains the change and circle it. Hint: The change has to do with who buys the soap and to whom soap-makers market their products. What problems are soap-makers facing? What has caused the problems?

The Hassoun family has faced the changes and decided to market their soaps online. Visit their website: www.khanalsaboun.net. From what you see on the site, what can you deduce about the people the Hassouns want to persuade to buy their soap? What evidence suggests that conclusion?

To get a better sense of the traditional clientele versus the Internet-era clientele, make two sets of sales materials. Make one for local residents who might want to buy your family's homemade soap. You can either make your ad on paper or as a TV ad, but keep in mind that you're selling locally. Make the other a website that is aiming for a distant market. Remember that it's not just the medium that's different. It's the people who will be seeing the ad, and the people you want to persuade to buy your product who are also different.

When the ads are finished, show them in class. What have you learned about marketing on the Internet versus marketing to a more local audience? Write a short process paper explaining the differences.

Reading Strategies


Soaping UpPre-reading can help you get more from what you read. Having an idea about the subject or theme of a magazine article gives you a head start on understanding it. It gets you involved in your reading—even before you begin. One pre-reading strategy involves looking at photographs as previews that give you hints about what an article is going to be about. Look at the photograph on page 17 to see what you can figure out about the article—but don't read the article, "Soaping Up," yet. If you work with a partner, you can answer these questions orally; if you work alone, write down the answers as you go. Start by describing the photo. Who is in it? What do you notice about them? What are they doing? Where are they? How can you tell? Starting in the lower part of frame and moving up, describe the objects that are in the photo. What objects do you see? What do they all have in common? How are they different from each other? What do the differences make you think about?

When you put all your answers together, what do you think will be the topic of the article? What do you think will be its theme? When you read "Soaping Up," see if you're right.

Reading for Understanding

Later you will explore the theme of how people grow to understand one another better. But before you can do that, you need to be sure you're understanding what you read! Turn to "Prince of Brotherhood." Before you start reading, get an overall sense of what the article is going to be about by reading the headline and the call-out quotes, looking at the pictures and reading the captions. Write down any questions you have, based on what you see.

Once you start reading the article, underline the important points and any information you want to be sure to remember. You might also want to make some notes, either in the margins or in your notebook. When you finish reading the article, write a short (one-paragraph) summary that includes the article's theme and key points. Compare your summary with another student's to be sure you have both identified the most important parts of the article. Follow the same procedure with "Al-Andalus 2.0." When you're done, you'll be ready to explore the theme Understanding, using the two articles as your case studies.

JA10 Standards Alignment
McRel Standards

Prince of Brotherhood
Standard 10. Understands the nature and complexity of Earth's cultural mosaics
Standard 17. Understands how geography is used to interpret the past

World History
Standard 34. Understands how Eurasian societies were transformed in an era of global trade and the emergence of European power from 1750 to 1870
Standard 36. Understands patterns of global change in the era of Western military and economic dominance from 1800 to 1914
Standard 37. Understand major global trends from 1750 to 1914

Al-Andalus 2.0
Behavioral Studies
Standard 1. Understands that group and cultural influences contribute to human development, identity, and behavior
Standard 2. Understands various meanings of social group, general implications of group membership, and different ways that groups function
Standard 4. Understands conflict, cooperation, and interdependence among individuals, groups, and institutions

World History
Standard 20. Understands the redefinition of European society and culture from 1000 to 1300 CE

Standard 3. Understands the relationships among science, technology, society, and the individual
Standard 6. Understands the nature and uses of different forms of technology

Soaping Up
Standard 3. Understands the concept of prices and the interaction of supply and demand in a market economy
Standard 4. Understands basic features of market structures and exchanges

Historical Understanding
Standard 1. Understands and knows how to analyze chronological relationships and patterns
Standard 2. Understands the historical perspective

Standard 11. Understands the patterns and networks of economic interdependence on Earth's surface

Movable Palaces
Standard 9. Understands the nature, distribution and migration of human populations on Earth's surface
Standard 10. Understands the nature and complexity of Earth's cultural mosaics

World History
Standard 19. Understands the maturation of an interregional system of communication, trade, and cultural exchange during a period of Chinese economic power and Islamic expansion
Standard 21. Understands the rise of the Mongol Empire and its consequences for Eurasian peoples from 1200 to 1350
Standard 28. Understands how large territorial empires dominated much of Eurasia between the 16th and 18th centuries

Finding the Balance
Standard 9. Understands the nature, distribution and migration of human populations on Earth's surface
Standard 10. Understands the nature and complexity of Earth's cultural mosaics

World History
Standard 19. Understands the maturation of an interregional system of communication, trade, and cultural exchange during a period of Chinese economic power and Islamic expansion


Julie Weiss is an education consultant based in Eliot, Maine. She holds a Ph.D. in American studies. Her company, Unlimited Horizons, develops social studies, media literacy, and English as a Second Language curricula,and produces textbook materials.