Students in World Area are studying world religions and how differing belief systems create conflict. As assigned by their teacher, Mrs. Bumgarner, each student researched one of the five religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, to determine the impact of religious conflict on society.
The first step was to research the assigned religion. Students then began to blog their findings with Mrs. Robinson’s social studies students at Spencer Middle School. Through the blogs, the high schoolers taught the 6th graders about the different religions. The middle schoolers could then respond with their thoughts and questions.
Blogging between the two classes has been happening for several years, but a new component was added to the unit this year. Over the last several months, Bumgarner has been working fervently to find representatives from each world religion willing to blog with her students. After hearing many “no’s”, Bumgarner was starting to think her idea would not come to fruition. With determination, she kept inquiring, and the “yes’s” began to surface.
Through blogging with representatives practicing each religion, students hoped to get their questions answered so that they could form conclusions about the conflicts between differing belief systems. The day after questions were blogged, World Area student, Alexa Guerrero, got a response from a Muslim Imam. Guerrero asked if he disliked anything about his religion, and he replied that he is willing to accept everything that goes along with his belief system. Upon asking Guerroro her thoughts about the reply, she said, “Now that I got a response it is interesting to hear his perspective about the religion.” Over the next couple of days, nearly ten additional responses were received, and Bumgarner was impressed by how thoughtful and insightful they were.
Not knowing what to expect, Bumgarner was very enthusiastic about the responses that students have been receiving. Bumgarner said that it was exciting when Alexa got a comment from a Muslim man, and she is hopeful that more responses will come in over the next several days. “The quality of everyone’s work has improved because they know that real people are involved,” Bumgarner said when asked how corresponding with people practicing the various religions has impacted the unit. In the future, Bumgarner is hopeful to bring in speakers from some of the connections that have been made, as well as to take a field trip to Des Moines or Sioux City. The unit is set to conclude with a class discussion, giving students the chance to share their findings.