Multimedia: Videos for Teaching about Islam

We’re on a bit of kick looking for resources for teaching about Islam, maybe because we feel relatively ignorant ourselves. One of us lived in Senegal, West Africa for a few months and became fascinated by the pause in the flow of daily university life as large crowds of students stopped and gathered for afternoon prayer.

(Let’s also pause here for a note: we welcome constructive criticism and guest writers who have deeper knowledge of Islam and the resources available for teaching students about it).

Here are two videos about Islam, appropriate for high school students. The first covers main tenets and some history of the religion and the second addresses common present-day stereotypes of American Muslims. The latter is particularly relevant given the uptick in anti-Muslim incidents during and after the presidential campaign, as reported by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

From PBS Learning, here’s John Green in a 13 minute video entitled Islam, the Quran, and the Five Pillars All Without a Flamewar. In the video, Green “teaches you the history of Islam, including the revelation of the Qu’ran to Muhammad, the five pillars of Islam, how the Islamic empire got its start, the Rightly Guided Caliphs, and more.”

Also from PBS Learning and Unity Productions Foundation, here’s another video, of 11 minutes in length: Muslim Americans, Fact vs. Fiction.  The video “provides poll-based answers to the most frequent questions Americans ask about their Muslim neighbors [and]… debunks stereotypes and separates many of the prevailing fictions about Islam and American Muslims.”

Both videos are informative and thought-provoking, even for adults.

* smallstones is grateful to the PBS Education “Teacher’s Lounge” blog post by Rachel Otty, Teaching Islam: Deconstructing Myths and Clarifying Truths, for introducing us to these videos.


♣ The Resource ♣

PBS Learning Media. (2012). Islam, the Quran, and the Five Pillars All Without a Flamewar – Crash Course World History. Retrieved from

PBS Learning Media. (2015). American Muslims: Fact vs. Fiction. Unity Productions Foundation. Retrieved from

“One Survivor Remembers”

The number one question I get is, “ What can I do?” In that question already lies the answer. Follow your instincts to do some- thing you believe in or care about. When you get to the end of your day or your life, you must answer to yourself, to be able to say, “If I saw something wrong, I spoke up.” When you make a decision based on instincts, you won’t regret things later.

–Gerda Weissman Klein

From the Southern Poverty Law Center, in partnership with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, is the middle school curriculum, “One Survivor Remembers.” The title’s survivor, Gerda Weissman Klein, was a prisoner for six years in a Nazi concentration camp.

The curriculum includes free online access to a 1995 documentary on Klein’s life, a contemporary interview with Klein, a detailed teacher’s guide, digital handouts and primary documents, and lesson plans.

Notably, these lesson plans include activities asking students to respond to both WWII-era and 21st century antisemitic political cartoons and propaganda. The prompts are easily transferrable to material gathered today.