Lesson Plans

Healing for Refugees from Syria

Image by Mark Hoffman. Jordan, 2016.

A group of doctors and volunteers prepares for a trip, led by a Syrian-born doctor, to Jordan to help Syrian refugees. Image by Mark Hoffman. United States, 2016.

Image by Mark Hoffman. Jordan, 2016.


Students will be able cite details in an analysis of two journalists’ aims for reporting on the lives of refugees living in Jordan


1. Make a list of your favorite things about home. Where are your favorite places? What are the things you need to make a place a home?

2. Make a list of the things that could lead to people losing their homes. What might cause people to leave their homes? To be displaced from their homes?

3. Write a short reflection in response to the following questions: If you knew someone was losing their home, what would you do? What is a community’s responsibility to a person who has lost his/her/their home?

Introducing the Resources:

In Syria, war and conflict have forced 12 million people to leave their homes. A group of community members from Milwaukee, Wisconsin traveled to Jordan in an effort to help the Syrians who have settled there. Their journey is being reported by Pulitzer Center grantees Mark Johnson and Mark Hoffman.

1. Make a prediction: What do you think the community members are planning to do? What might be some of their concerns? What might be some of their hopes?

2. Watch the video “Reporter’s Notebook: Wisconsin Volunteers Help Syrian Refugees in Jordan” and read the article that follows. Answer the questions attached.

3. After reading, write what you think is the author’s purpose for reporting this project. Use evidence from the article to support your reasoning.

4. Check to see if you were correct about the author’s intended purpose by reading the Johnson and Hoffman’s project description The Healing.

5. Write your response to the following: What language from the project description confirms your prediction about the authors’ purpose for reporting? What language points to a different purpose?

Extension Activities:

Option 1.

Johnson and Hoffman write the following in the article “Reporter’s Notebook: Syrian Refugees Wait, Attempt to Build a Home in Germany:”

“We've spoken with Syrian refugees in Jordan and now Germany, and I always ask them where they want to go. America is not the popular destination we often like to imagine...The most common answer by far is Syria.”

Why do you think the Syrian people hope to return to their homes? What were their lives like in Syria? Conduct a research project that uses news articles and interviews to learn about the lives of Syrian people before the war. Use your research to write a letter of support to a refugee living in Jordan. For a list of Pulitzer Center resources exploring the lives of Syrian refugees, explore the E-book Syria’s Children.

Option 2.

In the video you explored in this lesson, neurologist Tarif Bakdash says, “All humanity should help each other.” Make a list of ways that your community, your local government, the United States government and the international community could support refugees living in Jordan. Use a table like the one below to organize your brainstorm:

Ways I can help

Ways my local government can help

Ways the U.S. government can help

Ways the international community can help

Use your brainstorm to design a service project supporting Syrian refugees. Let Johnson, Hoffman, and the Pulitzer Center in on the details of your project by emailing your project idea to education@pulitzercenter.org.

Option 3.

Read the following reports from Johnson and Hoffman and use evidence from each article to identify the author’s purposes for each piece:

Reporter’s Notebook: From Fixer to Friend

Reporter’s Notebook: The Shawarma Sandwich Stand in Zaatari Refugee Camp

Reporter’s Notebook: Safety Comes First, But it is Not Enough

Reporter’s Notebook: Children of Zaatari

Educator Notes: 

This Common Core Standards-aligned lesson plan and attached classroom resources analyze the author’s purpose using articles and video exploring a community’s efforts to support Syrian refugees in Jordan. This lesson plan for history teachers, English teachers, humanities teachers, and media teachers also explores how students define a home and asks students to reflect on the following question: What is one person’s responsibility to the international community?


Determine an author's point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how an author uses rhetoric to advance that point of view or purpose.

Lesson Facilitation Notes:

1. The lesson plan is written for students to be able to explore the resources independently and reflection exercises independently.

2. Students may need to have an extra sheet of paper, or a blank online document open, to answer the warm up, comprehension and extension questions.

3. The lesson lists several extension exercises. Students could choose one or work through all of the listed exercises.

4. The warm up and post-reading reflections in this lesson could also lead to rich conversations. You may want to work through the lesson along with the students and denote moments for interactive activities.

5. With questions about this lesson, contact education@pulitzercenter.org

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