Resources for Teaching the Syrian Refugee Crisis

refugee photoThough the Syrian refugee crisis has been in the news for months, it has often been relegated to background stories that many ignore. Repetitive numbers and statistics eventually lose their impact and the media is onto the next big story of the day. Consequently, it was all the more shocking when a photo of a drowned toddler on a Turkish beach went viral last week and catapulted the story into the headlines. Though the devastating photo captured a single family’s story, it served as a reminder that the refugee situation could no longer be ignored.

While the Syrian conflict has been going on for four years, refugees seeking asylum in Europe have dramatically increased this year, creating an emergency situation in which hundreds of thousands of people have fled their homes. Despite the increased news coverage, it can be difficult to introduce and discuss this ongoing crisis with students, especially as we process the information ourselves. In an effort to help educators address this topic, World View has compiled a list of resources about the crisis. Resources include background information, videos, interactive modules, lesson plans and avenues for taking action. If you know of additional resources on this topic, please email us and we may add them to this post.

The Syrian Refugee Crisis Explained – This article from The Hindu concisely explains why the crisis situation has suddenly burst onto the world stage despite the war’s continued presence in the lifeif_america_were_syrian of Syrians.

Understanding the Syrian Refugee Crisis – Following a February 2015 workshop, World Affairs Council of Seattle created this resource packet for educators. It includes contextual materials on refugees in multiple countries, charts and graphs on Syria’s “Generation out of School” and lesson plans on teaching conflict, human rights and refugee populations.

Teaching about the Refugee Crisis in Syria – This unit from contains lesson plans for teaching about Syria’s revolution, the war and the displaced people of Syria. It also offers personal stories of refugee children, including a news story geared toward younger students from Nick News. Finally, it offers multiple outlets for taking action and a lesson on processing information through Common Core-aligned assignments.

CNN Student News Report – CNN Student News is designed for secondary students and offers a concise look at current world events. This news segment from September 8, 2015 features an in depth look at the perilous journey some refugees take to escape Syria.

Hans Rosling Explains Syrian Refugee Situation – In this short YouTube clip, TED speaker Hans Rosling explains the current crisis and migration of Syrians using apples. Though the video runs less than one minute, Rosling offers a powerful visual representation.

OXFAM Unit – Syria: A  Children’s Crisis? – OXFAM takes a more targeted approach to the situation by focusing specifically on the displaced children of the conflict in Syria, who currently number in the millions. This resource kit includes a teacher’s guide, PowerPoint presentations, lesson plans and a Youth Action Guide for student participation.

The Guardian – How to teach … about refugees – In this resource collection from The Guardian, teachers will find several lesson plans from the British Red Cross, interactive role-play activities, photo libraries and resources for teaching about conflict and refugees in the art and music classroom.

CHOICES – Refugee Stores: Mapping a Crisis: This resource includes lesson plans, maps, photos and other tools for teaching with the news and exploring the current crisis.

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