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Unit 4: The Middle East

Learning Team Activity

The purpose of Learning Team Activities is to add depth to our understanding about important topics in geography. While each individual focuses on a singular topic, the idea is that these teams serve as online communities where students discuss and add value to their collective knowledge. Students should read their teammates’ work and leave comments that ask questions, add insight, make connections, or otherwise support learning in some way.

Select one of the following missions by claiming it on your learning team blog. Complete the mission to the best of your ability and share your work with the team on the blog. You must choose a different number mission than those you have previously done.

(1) Deserts of the Middle East (2-3 person mission, claimed by: Braylon, Madeline, and Emily )

  • Scan 17.1 and 17.2 for information about the physical geography of the Middle East as well 18.1 – 18.5 and 19.1 and 19.2 for information about how people adapt to the desert climates of the Middle East.
  • Do a study of the deserts in this region by writing a short entry for each of the topics listed below. For each topic, include a picture and a description that considers the guiding questions below. You may need to do additional research to learn more about each topic in order write a good description/explanation.
    • The Sahara
      • Where is this desert, and what are its major characteristics? Are there characteristics that differentiate this desert from others in the region?
      • What if life like in this desert (plant and animal)? Do people live here? If so, how have they adapted to the climate?
      • Where can you find water? Oases? Rivers? Mountains? Aquifers? Be specific.
    • The Rub’ al-Khali
      • Where is this desert, and what are its major characteristics? Are there characteristics that differentiate this desert from others in the region?
      • What if life like in this desert (plant and animal)? Do people live here? If so, how have they adapted to the climate?
      • Where can you find water? Oases? Rivers? Mountains? Aquifers? Be specific.
    • The Kara-Kum
      • Where is this desert, and what are its major characteristics? Are there characteristics that differentiate this desert from others in the region?
      • What if life like in this desert (plant and animal)? Do people live here? If so, how have they adapted to the climate?
      • Where can you find water? Oases? Rivers? Mountains? Aquifers? Be specific.
    • The Kyzyl Kum
      • Where is this desert, and what are its major characteristics? Are there characteristics that differentiate this desert from others in the region?
      • What if life like in this desert (plant and animal)? Do people live here? If so, how have they adapted to the climate?
      • Where can you find water? Oases? Rivers? Mountains? Aquifers? Be specific.
    • The Nile River
      • Where is this river and why is it important, considering particularly that it runs through an extremely arid land? Be specific. What does it mean to life in the desert?
      • How has this river impacted the history of mankind? What civilizations has this river supported and whom does it continue to support?
      • Are there any special features that add to its importance? Dams? Reservoirs? Alluvial soil? Canals?
    • The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers
      • Where are these rivers and why are they important, considering particularly that it runs through an extremely arid land? Be specific. What does they mean to life in the desert?
      • How have these rivers impacted the history of mankind? What civilizations have these rivers supported and whom do they continue to support?
      • Are there any special features that add to their importance? Dams? Reservoirs? Alluvial soil? Canals?
    • The Syr Dar’ya and the Amu Dar’ya Rivers
      • Where are these rivers and why are they important, considering particularly that it runs through an extremely arid land? Be specific. What does they mean to life in the desert?
      • How have these rivers impacted the history of mankind? What civilizations have these rivers supported and whom do they continue to support?
      • Are there any special features that add to their importance? Dams? Reservoirs? Alluvial soil? Canals?
  • Set one of your pictures as the feature picture to represent the Middle East’s desert geography on the learning team home page.
  • At the bottom of your post, cite your sources, which should include your book and links to your pictures as well as any other sources used. Use MLA format.

(2) The Middle East’s Historical Influences (1-2 person mission, claimed by: Maddie & Arin)

  • Scan the “History and Government” sections of 18.1 – 18.5 to compile a list of important events that helped shape the Middle East as a cultural region.
  • Collaborating on timetoast.com or dipity.com, list historical events. On timetoast.com, one person must be in charge of setting up the timeline and inputting all of the data whereas all members can edit on dipity.
  • For each event, include a picture, a date or range of dates, a description of the event, and a statement of how the event influenced the region.
  • Consider, specifically, which events may have been most influential in uniting the region, culturally.
  • On your learning team page, post a short description of your timeline, a screen shot, and a link to your timeline. You should include a highlight from your timeline that you consider particularly relevant.

(3) Islamic Culture (1-2 person mission, claimed by: Cole H. Stephany L.)

  • Scan the “Culture” sections of 18.1 – 18.5 and the case study on pp. 488 – 491 for information about important features of Islamic Culture.
  • Do the following tasks to reveal the impact Islam has had on the culture of this region:
    • Label a mosque. You can draw it or label a picture. You may not use a diagram that has already been labeled. Explain the significance of each item you label.
    • Provide examples of Islamic art or decoration that may be found in a mosque. This art should either be geometric, floral, or calligraphy. Explain why Islamic art looks as it does. Why are there no people represented?
    • Explain the significance of the “call to prayer.” How does this call play a large role in the life of Muslims? Provide an audio example from YouTube and embed it into you blog post.
    • A recognizable symbol of Islam are the veils worn by many female Muslims. These veils vary dramatically between modern and fashionable Hijabs to extremely concealing Burqas. Describe the differences between the many types of veils worn and explain their purposes. Where are Burqas worn and why? Include one or more pictures to depict these difference veils.
    • There are many different factions of Islam. Sunni and Shia are the two major factions in this region. Explain how the difference between these two types of Islam affect the dynamic of this region.  Include a map of the Sunni and Shia presence in this region.
    • Some Muslims, such as Islamists or those that follow Wahhabi, advocate a more conservative Islam, including Sharia law. What are the goals of Islamism? What is Sharia? Why might Western countries see Islamists as a threat? A picture for this topic is optional; if you choose to include a picture, it can be a picture of Militant Islamists but it cannot be a picture of a terrorist or anything that might be misconstrued as offensive.
  • Set one of your pictures as the feature picture to represent Islamic culture on the learning team home page.
  • At the bottom of your post, cite your sources, which should include your book and links to your pictures as well as any other sources used. Use MLA format.

(4) Perspective: The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (1 person mission, claimed by: Mitch Ross)

  • Scan section 18.2 and the special section, “Conflict: Israelis and Palestinians,” on pp. 448 – 449 for information about this topic.
  • Write an article that explains the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. You may need to do additional research to better understand this topic.
  • Be sure to answer the following questions:
    • What is the background on Jerusalem as a place of conflict?
    • Why do Jews, Christians, and Muslims consider Jerusalem a holy place?
    • What is Zionism and how did the Zionist movement influence the current conflict? What did the UN propose as a solution?
    • How did the Israelis gain control of Israel in the decades following the failed 1947 two-state solution?
    • What have been the recent attempts at peace? Where does the situation currently stand?
  • Insert a picture at the top of the page that adds meaning to your post, and set it as your feature picture.
  • Use at least three sources. At the bottom of your post, cite your sources, which should include your book and a link to your picture as well as any other sources used. Use MLA format.

(5) Perspective: Disorder in Afghanistan  (1 person mission, claimed by: Adrianne Owings)

  • Scan sections 18.5, and the special insert about Afghanistan on pp. 460 – 461 for information about Afghanistan’s troubled history and its current situation.
  • Write an article that explains the situation in Afghanistan. You will need to do additional research to better understand this topic.
  • Be sure to answer the following questions:
    • What is Afghanistan’s history as a nation? How did it begin? How much experience does it have with centralized government? How much success has it had with a centralized government?
    • Why does Afghanistan have so much trouble with a central authority
    • What role did the Soviet Union play in shaping Afghanistan as a nation?
    • Who are the Taliban? What role did they play in Afghanistan and its troubles?
    • Why did the United States get involved with Afghanistan? What has the U.S.-Afghan relationship been like?
    • What are Afghanistan’s current challenges to becoming a successful nation? What could help the country stabilize under a central government, and what steps are currently being taken in that regard?
  • Insert a picture at the top of the page that adds meaning to your post, and set it as your feature picture.
  • Use at least three sources. At the bottom of your post, cite your sources, which should include your book and a link to your picture as well as any other sources used. Use MLA format.

(6) Perspective: Environmental Issues in the Middle East (1 person mission, claimed by: W. Baker)

  • Scan sections 19.2 for information about environmental issues in the Middle East.
  • Choose three issues to highlight. You may want to consider (1) issues concerning access to water, (2) pollution caused by the oil industry and the danger or war in regions of heavy oil extraction and production, (3) climate change’s impact on this region and this regions impact on climate change, (4) the Soviet Union’s damage to the Central Asia region, including nuclear waste pollution, or (5) a different, relevant issue of your choosing.
  • Insert a picture at the top of the page that adds meaning to your post, and set it as your feature picture.
  • Use at least three sources. At the bottom of your post, cite your sources, which should include your book and a link to your picture as well as any other sources used. Use MLA format.
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