March 24, 2011

Students listen to a radio segment about events in Libya and the challenges of reporting from that country; consider events in Libya through a timeline and Twitter messages; and discuss their view of unfolding events in the Middle East.

Students will:

  • listen to a radio segment on events in Libya and the difficulties associated with reporting on this story
  • go online to explore an interactive timeline about events in the Middle East over the past few months, by country
  • follow the Libyan "Feb17Voices" twitter feed online to look at events in Libya as they unfold
  • explore and discuss recent events in Libya
Social and Emotional Skills:
  • explore feelings that come up when listening to the personal story of a Libyan dissident in the US
  • media literacy (specifically exploring the idea of the neutral and dispassionate reporter and the idea of accuracy in reporting)
Materials needed:


(5 minutes)

Ask students what kind of media they use to follow news about their friends. Ask them what kind of media they use to follow news of their community and also beyond their community. Ask if any students have been following the news that has been coming out of the Middle East and North Africa in recent months? If so, what media have they turned to? 


(1 minute)
Explain that in today's lesson you'll be looking at different media used to report on events in Libya and some of the difficulties associated with that reporting. 

Inside the Libyan Diaspora Resistance Movement

(19 minutes)
Read the following introduction before asking students to listen to the On The Media (OTM) segment "Inside the Libyan Diaspora's Resistance Movement" from February 25, 2011:
"Protesters in Libya [have been] ... calling for the end of Muammar al-Qaddafi's regime - a regime that has kept the country under an information black out for years. That's why some in the Libyan diaspora feel a special responsibility to aid the flow of information in and out of the country. One member of that diaspora is OTM producer Sarah Abdurrahman. Sarah ... spent the week [following the start of the uprising in Libya], not as a disinterested journalist, but rather, as a part of the movement. She describes how she, along with friends and family, have been trying to bring about change in Libya from laptops in Washington DC."
Having listened to the clip ask students some or all of the following questions:
  • What did students think of the clip? What did they learn?
  • What dual role has radio producer Sarah Abdurrahman played since the start of the uprising in Libya? Why did she play this dual role?
  • Journalists are expected to be neutral and dispassionate when covering stories. Do you think this is always possible? Why? Why not?
  • What has Sarah done since the start of the uprising in Libya to get the story out?
  • How does Sarah get around the limitations imposed on journalists in Libya?
  • How does Sarah try to make sure that the story she gets out is accurate? Why does she say accuracy is important?
  • Towards the end of the interview, Sarah is asked a personal question about her family history. How do you think she's feeling as she shares this story? How does it make you feel listening to the story?
Besides Sarah and her friends and family, many people in Libya and beyond, have gone to great lengths to get out the story about what's been happening in their country since February 17th using a variety of different media. How do students think these media stories have impacted most recent events in Libya?
If students don't know what happened in Libya this past week, continue on to the next activity in which students explore the unfolding events in Libya since February 17, 2011.

From Tunisia to Egypt and Beyond

(20 min)
Ask half of your students to explore online the Wall Street Journal's "Middle East turmoil" interactive timeline, providing summary information about the events as they have unfolded in the Middle East and North Africa over the past few months. Ask the other half of your students to explore the hand out below with tweets from the "Feb17Voices" twitter feed mentioned in the earlier radio piece.
Assignment 1: Wall Street Journal Website
In small groups of three ask students to get on a computer and go online to the Wall Street Journal website at Ask them to type "Middle East turmoil - timeline" into the search box at the top right corner of the page and find the Libya time line to explore.
Instruct students to read up on the events in Libya by clicking on the different dates and in their small groups, ask them to discuss what's been happening in this country since February 17, 2011.
Assignment 2: "Feb17Voices" Tweets Hand Out
In small groups of three, ask students to explore the handout below with tweets from the "Feb17Voices" twitter feed mentioned in the earlier radio piece. Discuss what's been happening in Libya since Sarah Abdurrahman shared her story on NPR.
Debrief Questions:
As students come back to the full group, ask them, if need be, the same question as before about people having gone to great lengths to get out the story of what's been happening in Libya since February 17, 2011:
  • How do you think these media stories have impacted most recent events in Libya?
  • What were some of the other things that stood out for you from work in your small groups?
  • What are your thoughts about the events as they've unfolded in Libya?
  • What are your thoughts about the international community getting involved?
  • How do you think Sarah feels about this?
  • Did it help to hear Sarah Abdulrahman's story before doing some of the small group work? Why? Why not? How?


(5 minutes)

Give students a few minutes to think "if you were to write a tweet to Sarah Abdulrahman or any of the other dissident Libyan Americans at this time, what would it say?" Ask several volunteers to share.

Student Handout: Tweeting the Uprising in Libya 

Report from #Tripoli: City is isolated, surrounded by tanks, especially on western border. People can not enter or leave city. #Libya #Feb17 (8:33 AM Feb 27th via web)
LPC* #Tripoli: Stores closing, not much food being sold. Price of flour and rice have gone from 11 dinars to 50 dinars per bag. #Libya #Feb17 (February 27, 2011 1:48:45 PM EST via web)
LPC* frm #Tripoli: #Gaddafi will only supply food 2 army & his special forces. "This is the war he wants to try on the people." #Libya #Feb17 (February 27, 2011 4:55:01 PM EST via web)
LPC* from #Tripoli: "The Libyan people have already been through so many hard times, they can survive" on food shortage in #Libya. #Feb17 (February 27, 2011 4:56:46 PM EST via web)
Audioboo: LPC* #Benghazi: Situation here is good, but we remain vigilant & stand in solidarity w/#Tripoli. #Libya #Feb17 (February 27, 2011 5:27:02 PM EST via AudioBoo)
Live Phone Caller: We continue to hold demonstrations in #Benghazi in solidarity with the people in #Tripoli. #Libya #Feb17 (February 27, 2011 7:30:11 PM EST via web)
LPC* from #Tripoli: City is still very quiet, people not going outside, fear being shot by #Gaddafi forces. #Libya #Feb17 (February 28, 2011 12:51:05 PM EST via web)
Statement frm #Tripoli supports Benghazi interim gov,rejects negotiation w/#Gaddafi &calls 4 peaceful demos. #Libya (February 28, 2011 10:49:03 PM EST via TwitDoc, source no longer active)
LPC* #Tripoli Caller: Although some go out in morning for food, by afternoon people remain inside homes, no one is working. #Libya (March 1, 2011 9:53:49 AM EST via web)
Person in #Tripoli says "We NEED a no fly zone to end this. I swear once there is a no fly zone all east & west will invade Tripoli." #Libya (March 1, 2011 12:39:14 PM EST via web)
LPC* from #Benghazi: People still gathering everyday & protesting at the court house. Some people never leave the courthouse. #Libya #Feb17 (March 1, 2011 5:37:08 PM EST via web)
Audioboo: LPC* from #Benghazi: A lot of volunteers protecting the city and surrounding region. #Libya #Feb17 (March 1, 2011 5:39:39 PM EST via AudioBoo)
LPC* from Az-Zintan: #Gaddafi forces continue to attack the city, 3 times in the last 3 days, all repelled by the residents. #Libya #Feb17 (March 1, 2011 8:51:11 PM EST via web)
LPC* from Az-Zintan: Militry council established to manage the city's affairs, released statement in support of interim gov. #Libya #Feb17 (March 1, 2011 8:55:14 PM EST via web)
AJA: Journalist Al-Maghribi: There were air strikes in Ajdabiya and 40km west of it. Planes present on its skies now. #feb17 #Libya (March 2, 2011 3:10:43 AM EST via web)
URGENT report from #Tripoli: Large number of arrests of activists and anyone seen in any demonstrations. #Libya #Feb17 (March 2, 2011 10:31:00 AM EST via web)
Many in #Tripoli hesitant to speak. Reports of the regime arresting individuals who talk with foreign media. #Libya (March 3, 2011 10:29:00 AM EST via web)
Live Phone Call from Az Zawiya: People are forming committees to provide social services like city clean up and medical aid. #Libya #Feb17 (March 3, 2011 3:01:17 PM EST via web)
AJA Caller from #Zawiyah reports: firefight underway, anti-aircraft and heavy artillery #Libya (March 4, 2011 9:18:31 AM EST via web)
Alarabiya: Doctor in #Zawiyah reports: 'Hospital accommodate take the heavily injured, we are not equipted for this kind of load' #Libya (March 4, 2011 9:23:13 AM EST via web)
AJA breaking: Airforce boombing is targeting revolutionaries at the entrance of Ras Lanuf #Libya (March 4, 2011 9:34:50 AM EST via web)
AJA breaking: Reporting revolutionaries control an airport in ras lanuf. #Libya (March 4, 2011 10:08:11 AM EST via web)
Alarabiya: EU demands that #Libya allow humanitarian aid in. (March 4, 2011 10:28:07 AM EST via web)
AJA caller from Zawyah: the attack came from the east side of Zawyah. Was directed at peaceful protesters #Libya (March 4, 2011 10:36:52 AM EST via web)
Alarabiya: eyewitness says at least 30 killed in Az #Zawiyah #Libya (March 4, 2011 11:07:45 AM EST via TweetDeck)
Alarabiya: eyewitness reaffirms revolutionaries control city of Az #Zawiyah #Libya (March 4, 2011 11:09:53 AM EST via TweetDeck)
Alarabiya Reporter: Ras Lanuf bloody battles between gaddafi's troops and revolutionaries continue. #Libya (March 4, 2011 11:13:45 AM EST via web)
AJA Reporter in Ras Lanuf: Old Libyan flags raised on the east entrance of the city #LIbya (March 4, 2011 12:16:15 PM EST via web)
LPC* from Az Zawiya: Many ppl still missing after today's clashes, presumed to be dead. Situation is very tense. #Libya #Feb17 (March 4, 2011 5:14:49 PM EST via web)
LPC* from Az Zawiya: Demonstrators chanting, without weapons, were ambushed by #Gaddafi troops near hospital at edge of city. #Libya #Feb17 (March 4, 2011 5:21:00 PM EST via web)
LPC* from Az Zawiya: Internet has been cut off for days, the electricity also cut. City is dark. Phones still working. #Libya #Feb17 (March 5, 2011 12:46:28 PM EST via web)
LPC* frm Az Zawiya: If [#Gaddafi] doesn't want 2 leave peacefully, we have 2 force him 2 leave. If we can't do it alone, we need help. #Libya (March 5, 2011 1:25:10 PM EST via web)
Audioboo: LPC frm AzZawiya: Calls on international community 2 do something 2 help balance the struggle. #Libya #Feb17 (March 5, 2011 1:34:11 PM EST via AudioBoo)
LPC* frm #Tripoli says gunfire was unlike any previous days: "there is something going on, and they are trying to cover it up." #Libya #Feb17 (March 6, 2011 12:13:55 PM EST via web)
Audioboo: ARABIC EYEWITNESS LPC: aerial bombardments all day in Ras #Lanuf. (Translation soon) #Libya #Feb17 (March 8, 2011 8:33:27 PM EST via AudioBoo)
LPC* from Ras #Lanuf: #Gaddafi forces positioned near Ben Jawad, where #Gaddafi gave ppl weapons and money. #Libya #Feb17 (March 8, 2011 9:35:52 PM EST via web)
LPC* Ras #Lanuf: #Gaddafi forces in Ben Jawad have heavy weapons, rockets, tanks. Rebels have few weapons. #Libya #Feb17 (March 8, 2011 9:41:21 PM EST via web)
NOTE: Over the following week the tide turns against the opposition forces. Gadaffi's troops use heavy artillery from the air, sea and land. On March 10, France recognizes the opposition forces as legitimate government. Gaddafi considers this a "real provocation." On March 11, the European Union says any foreign military action to protect the population of Libya would need UN and Arab backing. That same day, President Obama says that Gadaffi is "on the wrong side of history ... We are going to be in contact with the opposition, as well as in consultation with the international community, to try to achieve the goal of Mr. Gaddafi being removed from power." On March 19, 2011 military forces from France, UK, and the US get involved:
LPC* from #Tripoli: Everyone is just waiting, scared. Lot of talk about resolutions but no action. Ppl waiting for action. #Libya #Feb17 (March 19, 2011 3:36:06 PM EDT via web)
SKYNews Breaking: Tomahawk missiles fired by US Navy at #Libya air defense installations. (March 19, 2011 3:40:46 PM EDT via TweetDeck)
LPC* caller from #Tripoli now: Explosions heard, caller says 'impacts' heard in vicinity a military base near #Tajura #Libya (March 19, 2011 3:46:21 PM EDT via TweetDeck)
LPC* from #Tripoli: When explosion happened, eyewitness saw military cars race by in the direction of the blasts, smoke. #Libya #Feb17 (March 19, 2011 3:58:50 PM EDT via web)
Pentagon: Goal of operations to prevent further attacks on Bengahzi,second to degrade air defenses.110 missiles, struck 20 facilities. (March 19, 2011 4:24:15 PM EDT via TweetDeck)
Pentagon: Sites either pose direct threat to people of libya or to Int'l forces. Just first phase. #libya (March 19, 2011 4:24:59 PM EDT via TweetDeck)
AJE: Gaddafi gave short, combative statement arguing that people were still with him (March 19, 2011 5:47:48 PM EDT via TweetDeck)
AJA: #Qatar prime minister confirms participation in coalition #Libya (March 19, 2011 6:12:02 PM EDT via TweetDeck)
AJA: Caller in #Benghazi: #French strikes took place Southwest of #Benghazi. #Libya (March 19, 2011 6:17:22 PM EDT via TweetDeck) 
* LCP stands for Live Phone Call
This lesson was written for TeachableMoment by Marieke van Woerkom, a trainer and global facilitator who works as a staff developer for Morningside Center.
We welcome your comments. Please email them to Marieke at:,or to Morningside Center at: