Comparative Religions: An Authentic Project-Based Learning Unit for Global Studies

Rationale, Resources, and Rubrics


A strong introduction to religion creates a foundation for understanding many world conflicts, cultural tensions, and governmental decisions. Students must gain a firm foundation for religious differences. However, religious readings or lecture only leads to possible memorization of the information. This unit provides students with the opportunity to interact with major religions of the world in order to gain an appreciation for their differences and cultural understanding of their importance around the world.


Purpose:
  • Essential Questions:
    • How is culture defined by one's religion?
    • How has the historic lack of tolerance created domestic and foreign conflict today?
  • Religion is integrated into all facets of society
    • Governmental decisions
    • Eating habits
    • Dress
    • Laws
  • Religious differences have lead to many historic and current conflicts
  • Students must gain an appreciation for religious differences and a cultural understanding of their importance around the world


Objectives:
  • Student-centered: Research, collaboration, and interviews
  • Learning and Doing: Final presentation to a religious panel allows for more than merely memorizing information, but rather for manipulation of information in a persuasive manner.
  • Facilitator: Following an introductory lesson on culture and religion, much of the work will be conducted by the students. Individual and group meetings are regularly scheduled. Daily blogging by the students are also a way in which their work is faciliatated.
  • Flexible Groups: One strong student will be paired with one weak student and two average students. One technologically proficient student will be included per group. An attempt will be made to create religion assignments based on a numeric system of most interested to least interested.
  • Higher Order Thinking Skills: The culminating activity for the unit is to convince a panel of religious experts of a plan to work toward global religious tolerance. Students will also be analyzing artwork, literary pieces, and data during the unit.
  • Interdisciplinary: Students will be completing work that crosses the boundaries into art, literature, science, and math.
  • Collaboration: Collaboration within groups, across district and international classes.
  • Performance-Based Assessment: Benchmarks to be met... daily blogging, wiki creation, biography piece, reflection essay, and panel presentation. No end unit test!
  • Multiple Sources of Information, Including Technology: NetTrekker, Google Scholar, Gale Databases, and a variety of sites tagged via my delicious site.
  • Technology Fully Integrated into the Classroom: Google Docs, Wikispaces, Ning, Moodle, Prezi
  • Use of a Variety of Types of Information to Complete Authentic Projects: The sites listed above will be used to create the end presentation on a plan to work toward global religious tolerance.
  • Students Acting as Professionals in the Discipline: Students as experts on their assigned religion will present to a professional panel and will be expected to act as professionals during the presentation.



Timeline:

Please note that days are approximate in nature. It is expected that some work will occur outside of the scheduled 80 minute class period and 40 minute Academic Prep period. It is also expected that students will be multi-tasking each day to complete discussions boards and daily blog entries for which they are responsible. The final essay is to be completed for homework, but may be completed during class time if individual students or student groups are ahead of schedule.
  • Days 1-2: Research collection
  • Days 3-4: Research compilation for wiki, creation of interview questions, scheduling of interview (actual interview outside of class)
  • Days 5-6: Art, Music, Literature, Math Analysis - Assignments based on Learning Styles Inventory
  • Day 7: Small group presentations to the class regarding basic points about assigned religion
  • Day 8: Outline for proposal to the panel of religious experts
  • Days 9-10: Proposal compilation including visuals
  • Day 11: Practice session of proposal
  • Day 12: Proposal modifications based on class feedback and second practice session
  • Day 13: Panel presentation
  • Day 14: Project debrief with peer and self-evaluations
  • Day 15: Final essay reflection due


This is the student handout containing the project description. All rubrics are also contained here.

Project Components - Explain how these facets will be incorporated into your project:
  • Inquiry
    • How is culture defined by one's religion?
    • How has the historic lack of tolerance created domestic and foreign conflict today?
  • Projects
    • PBL unit - projects are the unit
    • Many facets to the unit
  • Technology
    • Web 2.0 integration
      • Ning -- cross class collaboration via discussion board (Currently waiting for free Ning approval from Pearson)
      • Google Docs -- collaboration document for research
      • Wiki -- place to house completed and edited research
      • Moodle -- online journal
      • Prezi -- presentation method
  • Dynamic, Flexible Grouping
  • Authentic Teaching and Learning Experiences
    • Use of historical and present day religious tolerance and conflict issues to bring about real world change
    • Students will present to a panel of religious experts to propose a solution to help promote religious tolerance worldwide



Resources:
  • District subscriptions to...
    • NetTrekker
    • Opposing Viewpoints Database
    • Global Issues in Context
    • Gale Virtual Reference Library
    • History Resource Center (World)
    • SIRS Discoverer
    • Reader's Guide Select
    • InfoTrac Newstand
  • Google Scholar (at least one article to challenge each student)
  • My delicious page

Student Handout on how to conduct research for this project:




Desired Outcomes/Evaluations:
  • Religious tolerance
  • Appreciation for culture differences
  • Rubrics are designed for each aspect of the project and are available for download here
  • Self-evaluations and group evaluations will be completed at the end of the project, as well as a project debrief
  • Please note that students may be "fired" from their group if warranted. Students must meet as a group and with the teacher and provide specific evidence as noted in the attached "You're Fired" document. This student is then responsible for completing the work alone.
  • A final reflection essay will be written that answers the above listed essential questions.