Skip Discover Education Main Navigation
Skip Discover Education Main Navigation

Home> Teachers> Free Lesson Plans> 9/11 Backlash: Being Muslim In America

9/11 Backlash: Being Muslim In America911-Backlash-Being-Muslim-In-America

  • Subject: U.S. History
  • |
  • Grade(s): 9-12
  • |
  • Duration: Three class periods

Lesson Plan Sections


Students will
  • Consider how television programs and movies affect our perception of ethnic groups.
  • Learn what research has been done on this topic.
  • Participate in a class debate examining whether the media shapes our ideas about different groups of people.


  • 9/11 Backlash: Being Muslim in America video and VCR, or DVD and DVD player
  • Computer with Internet access


  1. Discuss the ways different ethnic groups, such as African Americans, Hispanics, and Muslims, are portrayed on television and in the movies. Do students notice any trends or patterns? For example, do they think that African Americans are often presented as bad guys? Are white people usually the heroes? Do students think that television programs and movies attempt to convey the complexity of any of the characters?

  2. Tell students that experts on the media continue to debate the role television and movies plays in shaping our ideas about different ethnic groups. During today's lesson, students will debate this issue. One side will take the position that television and movies shape our attitudes toward ethnic groups. The second side will argue that television and movies do not shape our attitudes.

  3. Divide students into two groups and assign each group a position. Give students time in class to discuss their position with their teammates. Encourage students to consider the following questions as they work to frame their arguments:

    • Are different ethnic groups usually presented in the same way? For example, are African Americans always the bad guys, or have you seen them as the good guys as well? What about other ethnic groups, such as Muslims?
    • Can the media show complexity, or are most characters one-dimensional?
    • Has the way that characters from different ethnic groups been portrayed on television or in the movies changed over the last few years?
    • Does the number of hours a person watches television or movies affect the degree to which the media can shape attitudes? Does more viewing result in a greater influence?
  4. Suggest students watch the segment "Casting Recall" from the video 9/11 Backlash: Being Muslim in America. The following Web sites also provide helpful information:

  5. During the next class period, proceed with the debate. Have each side present an opening statement, followed by a rebuttal. Conclude the debate by having each side present a closing argument.

  6. Ask students if they think that one side won the debate. Is there a class consensus about this question? Do most students think that television and the movies shape their views about different ethnic groups?

Back to Top


Use the following three-point rubric to evaluate students' work during this lesson.
  • Three points: Students were highly engaged with their groups while planning the debate; participated actively in the debate; were highly involved in class discussions following the debate.
  • Two points: Students were somewhat engaged with their groups while planning the debate; participated in the debate; were involved in class discussions following the debate.
  • One point: Students were minimally engaged with their groups while planning the debate; participated minimally in the debate; were not involved in class discussions following the debate.

Back to Top


Definition: Of or relating to a group of people linked by racial, national, cultural or religious bonds
Context: Some ethnic groups find it difficult to become accustomed to life in the United States.

Definition: Collectively the various types of mass communication, including television, radio, newspapers, and movies
Context: Social scientists agree that the media plays a role in shaping our ideas about society, ethnic groups, violence, and other aspects of culture.

Definition: A person who practices the Islamic faith
Context: After the September 11th attacks, some Muslims living in the United States feel that life became more difficult for them.

Definition: A point of view fostered by the interpretation of sensory information
Context: It's often hard to tell how much our perceptions of the world are shaped by what we see and hear on television and in the movies.

Definition: A one-dimensional view of a group of people based on inaccurate information, prejudices, or judgments
Context: Stereotypes of ethnic groups, such as portraying Arabs as terrorists, can have a negative effect on people's attitudes and behavior toward that group.

Back to Top


Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL)
McREL's Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education addresses 14 content areas. To view the standards and benchmarks, visit

This lesson plan addresses the following national standards:

  • U.S. History: Era 10 — Understands economic, social, and cultural developments in the contemporary United States
  • Behavior Studies — Understands that group and cultural influences contribute to human development, identity, and behavior
  • Language Arts: Viewing — Uses viewing skills and strategies to understand and interpret visual media

The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS)
NCSS has developed national guidelines for teaching social studies. To become a member of NCSS, or to view the standards online, go to

This lesson plan addresses the following thematic standards:

  • Culture
  • Individual Development and Identity
  • Individuals, Groups, and Institutions

Back to Top


Marilyn Fenichel, education writer and editor

Back to Top