By Karla Schneider and Monica Chapman
Elementary and secondary teachers from across the state will convene at Ohio University's Athens campus today through Saturday for a workshop titled "Integrating Islam into the Social Studies Curriculum."
Hosted by the African Studies and Southeast Asian Studies National Resource Centers and the Ohio Valley International Council, the workshop aims to equip teachers with practical tools to enhance the teaching of social studies topics relating to Muslims and Islamic cultures, increasing the understanding of the religion among Ohio children.
"Teachers are the pivot of progress in promoting a clearer idea about the Muslim world among area children," said Steve Howard, director of African studies. "The African Studies Program is
proud to be a co-sponsor of this important effort to create new ways for teachers to think about Islam in their classrooms."
The two-day workshop will include a visit to the Noor Islamic Cultural Center in Columbus, an organization dedicated to serving central Ohio's diverse Muslim community and promoting a greater understanding of Islamic cultures and people.
An opening reception will feature Qur'an recitations by a member of Ohio University's Muslim Students Association and an Indonesian saman dance from the province of Aceh performed by PERMIAS, the Indonesian student association.
Courses offered during the workshop include a demonstration of how GoogleEarth can be used to enhance teaching about the Islamic world that will be conducted by Ismail Elmahdi, associate director of African studies for instructional technology. A three-part overview of Islamic history, practices and doctrines will be presented by Assistant Professor of Classics and World Religions Loren Lybarger.
"Teachers can no longer assume their students come from Protestant or Catholic backgrounds," said Lybarger. "Knowing something about the practices, beliefs and internal differentiation that have characterized and shaped the entire range of religions has become essential to understanding and effectively relating instructional content."
Frans Doppen, associate professor of teacher education, along with local teachers Dina Metzler of Logan-Hocking Middle School and Laurie Campitelli of East Elementary in Athens will lead the curriculum development sessions, using the "Understanding by Design" teaching methodology.
"'Understanding by Design' defines learning up front in terms of outcomes, which then drives the planning process," said Doppen. "It asks teachers to help students develop enduring understandings and answer essential questions to define the curriculum rather than focus on developing lessons first and not considering assessment until a unit has been completed."
Teachers will have the opportunity to develop their own lesson plans using this model during the workshop and share them with their peers. Participating teachers will be provided with books about Islam, a music CD, an Islamic calendar, a map of the Muslim world, a prayer rug and prayer beads to use as teaching aids in their classrooms.
Schools participating in the workshop include PACE High School in Cincinnati, East Elementary School in Athens, Brookville Intermediate School in Clayton, Harmarsville Elementary and Middle School in Williamsburg, North Union Local School in Prospect, Logan-Hocking Middle School in Logan, Bridges Community Academy in Fostoria, Talawanda High School in Oxford, and Great Oaks Institute of Technology's Live Oaks Campus in Cincinnati.
Questions regarding the workshop can be directed to Laura Schaeffer, director of outreach and
coordinator of undergraduate studies for the Center for International Studies, at 740-597-2756 or