The story My Name is Osama was first published in Middle Level Learning, a publication of the National Council for the Social Studies. It is the story of an Iraqi boy named Osama whose family moves to the United States.
I like to use this story at the first of the year with my students. I usually wait until I start hearing them "picking on someone". With sixth graders I am usually in full swing taking care of the issue of picking on someone about the second or third week of school.
Since sixth graders in my district study Ancient Civilizations, it also ties in really well. We take the references to rivers, etc. in the letter and do map work determining where Osama is from. I read them the story while they read it and we discuss it. As a class, they normally have some very powerful discussions for sixth graders. It usually really affects most of my students and gives them a different perspective on the issue of judging others by their dress, name, etc.
One year, I had students crying because they identified with Osama and how he felt. They were extremely brave and shared with the class how they felt and their story of being judged. That touched the rest of my students more than you can imagine. They became a very tight knit group that worked together and were very considerate of each other's feelings.
It has been a really poignant lesson since September 11. Click on the button below to read the story and/or download the pdf.
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