Sea Prayer

Author(s): Khaled Hosseini


Social Justice focus: Refugee Crisis

Synopsis: A short, powerful, illustrated book written by Khaled Hosseini in response to the current refugee crisis, Sea Prayer is composed in the form of a letter, from a father to his son, on the eve of their journey. Watching over his sleeping son, the father reflects on the dangerous sea-crossing that lies before them. It is also a vivid portrait of their life in Homs, Syria, before the war, and of that city’s swift transformation from a home into a deadly war zone.

Contributor: Nicole Ruegg

Curriculum Area: Language Arts

Lesson Plan: Grade 7

Oral Communications:

Overall Expectations: 

  1. Listen in order to understand and respond appropriately in a variety of situations for a variety of purposes (p. 124)
  2. Use speaking skills and strategies appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes

Specific Expectations:

1.3 Identify a variety of listening comprehension strategies and use them appropriately before, during, and after listening in order to understand and clarify the meaning of increasingly complex or challenging oral texts (p.124)

1.5 Develop and explain interpretations of oral texts using stated and implied ideas from the texts to support their interpretation (p. 124)

1.6 Extend understanding of oral texts, including increasingly complex texts, by connecting, comparing, and contrasting the ideas and information in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights; to other texts, including print and visual texts; and to the world around them (p. 124-125)

1.8 Explain the connection between a speaker’s tone and the point of view or perspective presented in oral texts

2.2 Demonstrate an understanding of appropriate speaking behaviour in most situations, adapting contributions and responses to suit the purpose and audience (p. 125)

Learning Goals: 

Students can choose the appropriate listening strategies for a task

Students will share my opinions while respecting the opinions of others

Students can make inferences based on the clues from the text and my prior knowledge

Students can use connecting, comparing, and contrasting to help me understand the text

Success Criteria: 

Students will demonstrate active listening skills

Students will understand the meaning of the text

Students will form an opinion on the text and the questions to share with the classStudents will make connections from the text to other texts as well as the world around me

Students will make inferences about the text Students will share my ideas respectfully and collaborate with the class in discussion

Students will think critically about what I am seeing and hearing

Students will connect my thoughts and contributions to class conversation to the social justice picture book


Esme will work with her Educational Assistant to answer individualized questions about the text at her grade level while still being given the opportunity to be involved in class discussion

Mikhail, Leah, Hassan, and Nadia will be given extra time to re-listen to the text

Jonah and Yvonne can use personal laptops to type answers


Kahoot! Game (10 minutes)

At the beginning of the period, students will go to their seats with either a Chromebook or an iPad

They will access the Kahoot website and answer the questions that connect to the upcoming lesson

Questions will draw on prior experience/learning and can also be used to help the teacher gauge student understanding and schema (e.g., what is the definition of a refugee?, what is the definition of a migrant?, what are some examples of good listening skills?, what are some examples of good communication skills?)

This activity will engage students and create a positive atmosphere before dealing with subject matter that can be more challenging

Each question will be answered and then briefly explained

Teacher will then give an introduction to the lesson and what is expected

ACTION: Critical Listening and Hosseini’s Sea Prayer  

  1. Play the audio/visual recording of Khaled Hosseini’s Sea Prayer to the class (6 minutes)

a.      Have the class respond to lower-level thinking questions to get them warmed up (e.g., What was this story/poem about? What are your opinions about the text so far?) (10 minutes)

2.     Select several questions that relate to context, audience, and key literary features of the text and have students answer these questions while listening to the text a second time (10 minutes) (e.g. What is the speaker hoping to achieve? How does the speaker’s context or identity influence the way the text is presented? What might a listener bring to this text that could influence the way they interpret the content?))

a.      Have the class respond to the questions using the Think/Pair/Share model, giving the students opportunity to practice sharing their opinions and ideas about the text with a partner before sharing with the class (10 minutes)

b.     Be sure to write all questions on a whiteboard or Smart Board so students can refer back to them

c.      Give students time to write answers and do Think/Pair/Share

3.     Pose several higher order thinking questions (e.g. What might the author be feeling while writing this text?) and questions from the Critical Listening Guide (preferably ones that are higher numbers and are more challenging to answer) and have students answer these questions while listening to the text a third time (10 minutes)

a.      Have the class do the Think and Pair portion on the Think/Pair/Share model to prepare answers for the class discussion (10 minutes)

b.     Give students extra time to write answers and participate in the Think/Pair

4.     Have students move away from the desks to sit in a circle and discuss the questions as a group (25 minutes)

a.      Allow students to share their ideas, debate between themselves, and think critically about both the text and the subject matter


Students will complete an exit card before leaving class

Write exit card questions on the board for students to answer (e.g., how did this lesson expand your understanding on refugees/migrants? How did this lesson expand your knowledge on listening/oral communication? List one thing that you learned from one of your peers during the class discussion or Think/Pair/Share, or List one thing that you agreed or disagreed with during the class discussion)

Completing an Exit Card will allow students to reflect on their learning as well as give the teacher a good picture of what was learned during the lesson or what needs to be expanded on


Print copies of the text to hand out to students to be marked-up

–        YouTube video (Sea Prayer: a 360° illustrated film by award-winning novelist Khaled Hosseini)

–        Assessment checklist (See Appendix One)

Appendix One: Checklist

Student Name Demonstrates knowledge of listening skills and strategies Demonstrates ability to share and back-up opinions while respecting the opinions of others Demonstrates ability to create inferences and connections from the text and prior knowledge Demonstrates higher order thinking skills and critically questions their opinions and opinions of others Demonstrates ability to connect, compare, and contrast to understand the text
Student 1
Student 2



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Social Justice Picture Books by Ruth McQuirter, editor and Gurbinder Kaur, contributing editor is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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