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Question: How can I help my students to gain a more authentic understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian situation?

Seeing from one place to another - in this case, from the Dominus Flavit church on the Mount of Olives to the Dome of the Rock

  1. Bring them to Israel/Palestine on a trip.
    1. Perhaps June 2013
    2. Funding? Prob them + structure for financial aid
    3. I’d need to learn about trip leading
    4. Publicize in advance
    5. Address concerns about safety
  2. Set up Skype conversations between my students and people here
    1. Presentations by teachers or religious figures here, followed by Q & A.
      1. Could do 8:15 EST / 3:15 IST, or 9am EST / 4pm IST, etc.
      2. Teacher would need to be
        1. Have experiences and opinions that went beyond the simplistic
        2. Savvy with technology
        3. Fluent in English
        4. Be more interested in Q&A than lecturing.
        5. Be someone I was comfortable working with, making adjustments with, etc.
  3. One on one conversations with students here
    1. Diverse class if possible, or perhaps two different classes (one Israeli, one Palestinian)
    2.  Is/Pal students would need to be willing to skype after school hours. Perhaps evening would be better? For example, 2:25pm EST / 9:25pm IST.
      1. Possible barrier: Is/Pal students just having a computer with a fast enough internet connection
      2. Possible barrier: lack of teacher presence.
    3. What subject to partner with?
      1. U.S. History
        1. With U.S. History, trade off questions? So each gets to talk enough about the subject they are studying
      2. English
        1. No trade off needed, since conversation would be the practice for those students
    4. Fluency Would both Is and Pal students be fluent enough to be able to discuss complex social and political issues with my students?
    5. Rotate partners so students get to hear from different people
    6. Evaluation
      1. How would I evaluate the students?
        1. “What gets measured gets done.”
        2. Avoid it being an “aimless but fun activity” (Grant Wiggins)

In all three of these activities, I would not be the first person ever doing them, and I would want to reach out and learn from others’ experiences. The trip one is a little easier – I would begin by speaking with St. Andrew’s School teachers who have taken students on trips. I would also try to find teachers who have taken high school students similar to mine on trips to Israel and Palestine as similar as possible to the one I envision.

For the student to student discussions, it will be more difficult. When googling “skype Israeli students” I came across Beaver Country Day School’s Kader Adjout, who uses Skype a lot in his “Political and Social Change” class: http://goo.gl/GdF5l I also found several Hebrew Schools who set up skype chats.

Googling the phrase “skype Palestinian students” came up with less direct information. The biggest theme, unsurprisingly, is Gazan students connecting with the outside world. Most links are explicitly political, with themes like “electronically breaking the Israeli blockade” (in the Gazan cases) or just “supporting Palestinian resistance.” Clearly, I would want to make sure to connect under a theme of mutual learning, rather than political support for one position.

Dear reader, your thoughts are welcome on how I can best connect my students with Israelis and Palestinians!

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