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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Current Events Lesson - The Syrian Civil War

Hello everybody!

I wanted my first post to represent the vision I have for my blog, which is to provide up-to-date and free current event resources for social studies teachers.  Whenever I include a free current event lesson for you, it will contain a small slideshow presentation, a student worksheet, and an answer key.  The current event will come in the form of what else? -- a youtube video! (from a reputable news source of course).

As for me, I have taught and learned in several educational settings in middle and high schools and I feel that I have a strong grasp of how to design lessons for these students.  The information provided in my blog posts, I hope, will provide you with good free resources for your social studies classroom and will enhance your insight into designing lessons for yourself.


As I am sure you are all aware, the Syrian Civil War has been going on for some time -- since March of 2011, in fact.  It is a very hot topic in the news today, so I decided that it was a perfect topic to get my feet wet with.

Bashar al-Assad's alleged use of chemical weapons has provoked the United States into action.  At first, President Obama wanted to use a military strike as punishment against the Syrian government.  The big news story of the last week, however, has been the Russian proposal (actually it was first proposed sarcastically by John Kerry) to rid Syria of its chemical weapons peaceably.

The video for this lesson is included here and a link is also included in the PowerPoint presentation on the free download.

Because current events help bring relevancy to the topics we teach in social studies, I think it is important to explain to students how a current event directly relates to the topics we have already learned in class.  There are many ways to connect this topic to your social studies class, but I have included a few ideas below.
  • Role of the executive branch, especially the role of the state department
  • The powers of the president, especially his/her role as commander-in-chief
  • The war powers clause in the constitution, which grants Congress the right to declare war, not the president
  • The five times in U.S. history that the we have actually declared war (War of 1812, Mexican-American War, Spanish-American War, World War I, and World War II)
  • The history of the Middle East, especially regarding the difference between the different branches of Islam
  • The use of chemical weapons during World War I

I hope you and your class find this lesson fun and insightful.  Enjoy!

- Nick