A lesson plan based on “Conflict in Iraq: What do you think?” from the March-April 2003 issue of L.A. Youth, in which staff members provide background and opinions about the United States’ relationshipand whether we should go to war with this Middle Eastern country.

By Mike Fricano, Associate Editor

Grades: 6-12
Subjects: Social studies, language arts
Overview of lesson plan: In this lesson, students will learn about Iraq and its relationship with the United States after reading factual background and opinion pieces.
Suggested time allowance: 45 min.-1 hr.

Students will:
1. Learn more about the historical relationship between the United States and Iraq.
2. Differentiate between fact and opinion.
3. Take a quiz.

Resources and materials:
— pens, paper
— copies of L.A. Youth special report “Conflict in Iraq: What do you think?” (one per student)
— blackboard

1. Getting started: On the board write: Where is Iraq? Who is the leader of Iraq?

Figure out what the students know and what they don’t know about Iraq and the conflict. Have students find the answers to these basic background questions by reading the timeline and profiles in the March-April issue of LA Youth.

Once they have figured the answers to those first two basic questions have the students continue reading to learn when Saddam Hussein came to power. Have them take out a piece of paper and write the answers on a sheet of paper.

Next, have them turn their attention to the United States and learn who is leading the push for war. By reading Candace’s or Valentina’s articles, have them identify and write down three reasons why the United States is considering going to war against Iraq.

Have the students look at Brynn’s piece and identify three reasons for not going to war.

Finally, discuss what role the United Nations plays in the conflict.

Discussion questions:
Should the United States attack Iraq? Why or why not? Valentina writes that we should support President George W. Bush. Have the students read that piece and compare her arguments against Brynn’s.

Evaluation and assessment:
Students will be graded on class participation and their performance on the quiz.

Essay prompt: Iraq
The conflict with Iraq has dominated news coverage for months. Using the information in the pages of L.A. Youth and other news sources, have your students form their own opinions of the Iraq crisis. Ask students: How do you feel about the Bush administration’s decisions? What is your view of the anti-war movement? How is it affecting you and your community?

Essays should be persuasive and reference facts (found in L.A. Youth or other news sources) that support the writers’ opinions. Don’t just write that Saddam Hussein is a terrible dictator, cite that he has used mustard gas to kill thousands of Kurds living in northern Iraq. During any major crisis there are bound to be many opinions and pieces that appear in newspapers about the conflict. Some of these pieces are fact-based stories while others are opinion columns. Help students writing essays to differentiate between the two.

In cases where the facts are difficult to determine, such as whether Iraq has supported Al Qaeda, have the writers attribute their information to a source or acknowledge the difficulty in learning the truth.

Follow-up activity:
Quiz on Iraq conflict (Answers to these questions can be found in the timeline and profiles which appeared in the March-April 2003 issue of L.A. Youth.)

Name ____________________________________ Period ____________

1. When did Iraqi President Saddam Hussein come to power?
2. How many Iraqis have died since the United Nations sanctions were imposed?
3. What group was responsible for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks?
4. What is the name and title of the person who advised President Bush to seek United Nations support before invading Iraq?
5. Name two of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.

Quiz answer key:
1. 1979
2. 1 million
3. Al Qaeda
4. Colin Powell, Secretary of State
5. United States, China, Russia, France, Great Britain (any two)