Cedar trees are a symbol of Lebanon, and some of the country's cedars are hundreds of years old. But the cedars are under siege; their survival is threatened. Many people in Lebanon and beyond are fighting to save them.
For students: We hope this guide sharpens your reading skills and deepens your understanding.
For teachers: We encourage reproduction and adaptation of these ideas, freely and without further permission from AramcoWorld, by teachers at any level.
Common Core Standards met in this lesson: RI.9-10.2, RH.9-10.4, W.9-10.1 (see details below).
 —The Editors

Do you have any comments? I'd be pleased to hear from you at [email protected]
 —Julie Weiss

Cedrus libani Forever?

Cedar trees are a symbol of Lebanon, and some of the country's cedars are hundreds of years old. But the cedars are under siege; their survival is threatened. Many people in Lebanon and beyond are fighting to save them. "Cedrus libani Forever?" provides an in-depth exploration of the battle. Reading it and completing these activities, you will learn about the struggle for the cedars. You'll also sharpen your problem-solving skills, your reading comprehension strategies and your policy and persuasive abilities. By the time you finish the following activities based on the article, you will be able to:
  • Create a glossary.
  • Present evidence that cedars are endangered
  • Identify the dangers to the survival of cedars.
  • Determine how best to intervene to save the cedars and make a plan to help.
  • Write persuasively to advocate for policies that will protect cedars.

A glossary is a kind of minidictionary with vocabulary related to a particular topic. "Cedrus libani Forever?" contains many content-specific terms. Here are some of them; add others as you read. As a class, make a glossary to accompany the article, writing a definition for each term.
Terms Definition
Adaptation (of species)                                                                                    
Assisted migration  
Ecosystem restoration  
Functional extinction  
Tree entomologist  

What's the Evidence?

When someone tells you something, like that cedar trees are endangered, how do you know they're right? One way is to consider the source. Is it someone you trust to give you accurate information? If so,you'll probably believe the assertion. But it's always a good idea to see for yourself, if you can. In "Cedrus libani Forever?", writer Sheldon Chad provides evidence that Lebanon's cedars are endangered. What is that evidence? Find it in the article so you can proceed confidently forward that the problem being analyzed is a real one. (If something you're reading or seeing makes assertions without providing evidence to support them, your curiosity should be piqued. Does evidence exist? It's your job as a reader/listener to find out!)

What Causes the Cedar Problem?

The article identifies three major factors that are causing cedars' endangerment. They are identified in the left-hand column of the table below. Use the space below each factor to expound on it by answering its relevant question(s).
Causes Possible Solutions          Barriers to Change         How to Remove Barriers     
Goals: How do they threaten cedars?

Development: How does it threaten cedars?

Climate Change: What are two ways it threatens cedars?

What Can Be Done to Solve the Problem?

How are the people that Sheldon Chad spoke with, and the organizations he learned about, trying to save the cedars? Put that information in the appropriate space in the second column of the chart. If the article doesn't present possible solutions—as in the case of development—brainstorm with your classmates to generate ideas for how the problem might be solved. Make a note in the table that these are just ideas, not actions that have been taken.

What Makes Solving the Problem So Challenging?

Look at the third column. Why is it so difficult to save the cedars? Sift through the article to find reasons. For your own ideas, think about possible barriers to change and write them in the third column. With your classmates, discuss how the barriers are being addressed, or how they might be addressed. What might be done to remove the barriers? Write your ideas in the last column.

Now it's time to advocate for the cedars. Using your best persuasive skills, write a proposal for a policy that would protect the cedars. For example, you might argue for a policy to limit development near the cedars' habit or for a plan to set aside areas for goat grazing that will satisfy the goats without further endangering the cedars.

Culminating Activities

You can do one or both of these activities to pull together what you've learned.
  1. Based on everything you've read and discussed, how likely do you think it is that the cedars will survive? Write an essay that answers the question, using evidence from the article to support your point of view.
  2. Review the table. What can your class do to help save the cedars? Decide on an action that you can take, and then take that action!
This lesson meets these Common Core Standards:

RI.9-10.2 Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
Rh.9-10.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social or economic aspects of history/social studies.
W.9-10.1 Write arguments to support claims in analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.