Understanding World Religions

Students build a deeper appreciation and respect for world religions in the aim of better understanding the differences and similarities among the religions and cultures of their classmates.

Unit Summary

In this unit, students build a deeper understanding, appreciation, and respect for the wide variety of religions found in the world by reading two core texts: What Is Religion? and One World, Many Religions: The Ways We Worship. In today’s society, illiteracy regarding religion is widespread and fuels prejudice and bullying. The negative impacts of religious illiteracy and intolerance can be minimized by teaching religion in a non-devotional, academic perspective. Therefore, this unit challenges students to build a broader awareness and understanding of religion by exposing students to a diversity of religious views and educating students about some of the most common religions. It is important to note that this unit is not intended to promote the acceptance of one particular religion or serve as a place to practice religion. Instead, it is our goal that this unit will help students better understand the differences and similarities among the religions and cultures of their classmates, and begin to appreciate and respect differences in religion. 

As readers, this unit challenges students to synthesize information across two texts to build a deeper understanding of a topic. Students will analyze how authors support points, what structures they include to emphasize key ideas, and how different texts provide different perspectives and information about similar topics.

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Texts and Materials

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Core Materials

See Text Selection Rationale

Assessment

These assessments accompany this unit to help gauge student understanding of key unit content and skills. Additional progress monitoring suggestions are included throughout the unit.

Unit Prep

Essential Questions

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  • What is religion? Why is it important to learn about other religions? 
  • What are the key beliefs of the major world religions? 

Vocabulary

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Below are all of the unit vocabulary words. Prior to teaching the unit, we recommend teachers decide which words to prioritize. We also recommend that teachers decide which affixes to prioritize. See our teacher tool Prepping Unit Vocabulary (below) for more guidance on which words to pick as priority words.

Text-based

baptism convenant crucified descendant denomination detachment enduring endures enlightenment fast forbid karma meditate monk observe pilgrimage plagues prophet presence religion represent resurrected resurrection revelation ritual sacred surrender synagogue sympathy venture worship

Root/Affix

-ant -ism -ment de- en- re-

Notes for Teachers

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Lesson Map

1

  • What Is Religion? pp. 4 – 11

    RI.3.2

Describe what a religion is and the way religions are similar and different.

2

  • OWMR — Introduction

    RI.3.2

    RI.3.8

Explain how the author uses details to support the idea that religion has shaped the world we live in today.

3

2 days

Discussion & Writing

  • What Is Religion?

  • OWMR

    RI.3.9

    W.3.2

    SL.3.1

    L.3.1.h

    L.3.1.i

Explain what evidence both authors include to show that religion has played an important role in shaping our world.

4

  • What Is Religion? pp. 12 – 13

    RI.3.2

Explain what the section “The Story of Judaism” is mostly about and what details the author includes to support the main ideas by determining the main idea. 

5

  • OWMR pp. 1 – 3

    RI.3.3

    RI.3.8

Explain the history and beliefs of Judaism.

6

  • OWMR pp. 4 – 11

    RI.3.2

    RI.3.8

Analyze the evidence the author includes to support the idea that “for centuries, holidays and traditions have been an essential part of Jewish life."

7

Discussion & Writing

  • OWMR

  • What Is Religion?

    RI.3.9

    W.3.2

    W.3.2.a

    W.3.2.b

    W.3.2.d

    SL.3.1

Explain what both authors want a reader to know and understand about the key beliefs and aspects of Judaism.

8Essential Task

  • What Is Religion? pp. 14 – 17

    RI.3.2

Explain what the sections “The Story of Jesus” and “Many Kinds of Christians” are mostly about and what details the author includes to support the main idea. 

9Essential Task

  • OWMR pp. 13 – 17

    RI.3.3

    RI.3.8

Explain the history and beliefs of Christianity.

10

  • OWMR pp. 18 – 23

    RI.3.3

    RI.3.8

Explain if all Christian groups, or denominations, are the same and what evidence the author gives to either support or disprove this idea.

11

Discussion & Writing

  • OWMR

  • What Is Religion?

    RI.3.9

    W.3.2

    W.3.2.a

    W.3.2.b

    W.3.2.d

    SL.3.1

Explain what both authors want a reader to know and understand about the key beliefs and aspects of Christianity. 

12

  • What Is Religion? pp. 18 – 19

    RI.3.2

Explain what the section “The Story of Islam” is mostly about and what details the author includes to support the main idea. 

13

  • OWMR pp. 24 – 29

    RI.3.3

    RI.3.8

Explain the history and beliefs of Islam. 

14

  • OWMR pp. 30 – 35

    RI.3.3

Explain the five pillars of Islam and why each pillar is important. 

15

Discussion & Writing

  • OWMR

  • What Is Religion?

    RI.3.9

    W.3.2

    W.3.2.a

    W.3.2.b

    W.3.2.d

    SL.3.1

Explain what both authors want a reader to know and understand about the key beliefs and aspects of Islam.

16

2 days

  • What Is Religion? — pp. 20-21, pp. 24-25

  • OWMR pp. 37 – 47

    RI.3.2

    W.3.2

    W.3.2.a

    W.3.2.b

    W.3.2.d

    W.3.7

    W.3.8

Research and take notes about either Hinduism or Buddhism by reading multiple texts to determine and synthesize key information about a topic.

17

5 days

Writing

    W.3.2

    W.3.2.a

    W.3.2.b

    W.3.2.d

    W.3.7

    W.3.8

Write a research report describing key aspects of Buddhism or Hinduism by writing informative texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

18

Discussion

  • OWMR

  • What Is Religion?

    RI.3.2

    SL.3.1

Discuss why it is important to learn about other religions.

19

Assessment

  • What Is Religion? pp. 28 – 29

Common Core Standards

Language Standards
  • L.3.1 — Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

  • L.3.1.h — Use coordinating and subordinating conjunctions.

  • L.3.1.i — Produce simple, compound, and complex sentences.

  • L.3.2 — Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

Reading Standards for Informational Text
  • RI.3.2 — Determine the main idea of a text; recount the key details and explain how they support the main idea.

  • RI.3.3 — Describe the relationship between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text, using language that pertains to time, sequence, and cause/effect.

  • RI.3.8 — Describe the logical connection between particular sentences and paragraphs in a text (e.g., comparison, cause/effect, first/second/third in a sequence).

  • RI.3.9 — Compare and contrast the most important points and key details presented in two texts on the same topic.

Speaking and Listening Standards
  • SL.3.1 — Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 3 topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

Writing Standards
  • W.3.2 — Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

  • W.3.2.a — Introduce a topic and group related information together; include illustrations when useful to aiding comprehension.

  • W.3.2.b — Develop the topic with facts, definitions, and details.

  • W.3.2.d — Provide a concluding statement or section.

  • W.3.7 — Conduct short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

  • W.3.8 — Recall information from experiences or gather information from print and digital sources; take brief notes on sources and sort evidence into provided categories.

Spiral Standards

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L.3.1

L.3.2

L.3.4

L.3.4.b

L.3.6

RF.3.3

RF.3.4

RI.3.1

RI.3.10

RI.3.4

RI.3.5

RI.3.7

SL.3.1

SL.3.4

SL.3.5

SL.3.6

W.3.10

W.3.4

W.3.5

W.3.6