This lesson packet was developed to make comprehension and use of the documentary film more productive in the classroom. The lessons are intended for middle and high school world history, world geography, or world cultures courses, as well as electives on world or comparative religions.
There are thirteen (13) separate lessons with reproducible student handouts that are divided into two tiers of material. The set of Basic Lessons is intended to enhance comprehension of the documentary’s content, and as reproducible lessons, they can be printed out and contain everything needed to accompany the film. For teachers who have very little time, they provide the tools for getting the film’s basic message across. The set of Enrichment Lessons is useful for joining the content of the film to classroom study of the history and culture of medieval Spain. The two introductory Enrichment activities may be considered as important background information (the Abrahamic faiths and geography of the Iberian Peninsula), and many teachers will want to include them as part of basic coverage. Similarly, teachers may wish to substitute some of the Basic activities in favor of selections from the Enrichment. The lesson set is enhanced by a historical fiction piece entitled The Sword, that brings the period to life for students. Maps of Spain are available in Additional Resources.
View how this curriculum correlates with national and state standards.
Click on the sequenced Lesson Plans below to open each in a new tab, or click here to access them all.
|Basic Lessons||Enrichment Lessons|
| 1. Vocabulary Lesson|
– Words and definitions by segment
– Introduction to quotes by experts and context clues
| 7. Map Activities|
– Al-Andalus in world/regional history
– Al-Andalus the Jewel: geographic characteristics of the Iberian Peninsula
| 2. Viewers Guide|
– Overview of each film chapter
| 8. Introduction to the Abrahamic Faiths |
– Background reading and activity
| 3. Reading a Historical Map Sequence|
– Outline maps showing periods in al- Andalus’s history
|9. Magic Squares: Achievements of al-Andalus|
| 4. Timeline Activity|
– Tracing the chronology of events in al-Andalus’s history
| 10. Andalusian Literature|
– Poetry highlighting aspects of life in al-Andalus, with analysis
| 5. Discussing the Film|
– Questions for each film segment
|11. Transfer of Knowledge to Europe|
| 6. Tolerance and Intolerance|
– Questions, Flow Charts, and Keys
– Synectics activity
|12. Will the Real El Cid Please Stand Up?|
| 13. Historiography of Muslim Spain|
– How do historians view the legacy of Spain?
– What lessons can we draw from this legacy?
The additional maps, readings, and activities provide an opportunity for students to interact with material that was briefly mentioned or shown in the film’s sets. Students will be able to sample from the material culture of the period, explore different types of poetry, and learn about the lasting legacy of al-Andalus. One lesson engages the story of scientific knowledge that transferred to Europe as a result of the translation efforts first in the east, and centuries later in Spain, which contributed greatly to the rebirth of knowledge called the Renaissance, and ultimately the Scientific Revolution. On the popular side, the cultural and political legacy of the Reconquista is explored through the legend and history of the Spanish national hero El Cid. Concluding activities offer a brief collection of secondary source quotations on the significance of Islamic Spain to world history. The downloadable Enrichment lessons may be used in conjunction with information and features posted on this website, and some of them are linked to that information as reference material.
About Curriculum Authors
Susan Douglass, author and project editor, also developed lessons for the Unity Productions Foundation documentary Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet at www.theIslamProject.org. Major publications include World Eras: Rise and Spread of Islam, 622-1500 (Thompson/Gale, 2002), teaching resources for the Council on Islamic Education, and the National Center for History in the Schools. Douglass is on the development team of the World History for Us All curriculum project. She served as Senior Researcher for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations initiative, and currently directs K-14 education outreach at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, and conducts teacher workshops nationally with the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim Christian Understanding in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.
Ernest O’Roark and Eileen Wood served as master teachers at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School in Germantown, Maryland, Mr. O’Roark having recently retired. They have collaborated for a number of years on curriculum, literary projects, and films for the classroom. Their historical fiction appears in Kongo: A Kingdom Divided, a teaching unit published by the NCHS, and since 2001, they have been members of the research and development team for the online curriculum project World History for Us All under world historians Ross E. Dunn, David Christian, and Edmund Burke, III.