For the past several years, a survivor of the Holocaust has made an annual trip to our intermediate and middle schools to speak about his experience at Auschwitz. It’s an intensely powerful and moving experience for our sixth, seventh, and eighth graders, and it’s meant to be. The presenter – now 90 years old – has told his story so often that he’s able to describe life under the Nazi regime and at Auschwitz quietly and without much emotion. The students, however, sometimes gasp, sob, or seek the comforting hand of a classmate beside them. Though the details of events at the death camp are often difficult for the students to hear, they are ultimately grateful for the experience, and many cite it as one of the most profound events they’ve ever attended.
Information about the Holocaust – the systematic slaughter of millions of Jews, gypsies, Poles, Soviets, gays, people with disabilities, and those resistant to supporting Nazi Germany’s policies – is often first received by students as something akin to the plot of a bad horror novel. Their initial reaction to first learning of the Final Solution is often disbelief. The sheer magnitude of the atrocities, and the barbarism with which they were committed, is unthinkable. Yet the unthinkable did occur, and one of the many legacies left by the Holocaust is that we are bound by our humanity to fight hatred and stop atrocities. All humans deserve the right to live their lives in dignity and peace, and the Holocaust has illustrated only too well what can happen when that fundamental right is challenged. The lessons posed by the Holocaust offer a broad range of learning opportunities across the curriculum, from world history, literature, religion, and science, to psychology, character education, social responsibility, and other areas. The possibilities are limitless.
This year, Holocaust Remembrance Day will be observed on May 1. It’s a time to remember the victims, honor the courage of those who resisted the madness, and reflect on ways to end bigotry and intolerance. The lessons learned from the Holocaust must never be forgotten, especially as current genocides, such as that in Darfur, continue to plague the world. This week, I’m highlighting three Holocaust resources from The Gateway that are age appropriate and that can be used across the curriculum. As always, we’ll be featuring many additional lessons, activities, and other Holocaust-related resources throughout the week on our Facebook and Twitter pages. Please be sure to check those pages regularly, as we feature new resources 2-3 times each day.
The Diary of Anne Frank: Teacher’s Guide
Subjects: English, World history
This guide encourages students to regard Anne Frank's diary as both an historical document and a literary work. It is intended to provide middle school and high school teachers with strategies and materials that support classroom viewing and discussion of The Diary of Anne Frank, based on new information about Anne’s family, life, and death. Discussion questions, activities, reproducible worksheets, and assignment ideas are supplemented by an extensive listing of resources for further exploration. This resource was written in support of the 2010 PBS Masterpiece film adaptation of Frank's diary, addressing historical context, revised diary passages, and exploring the diary form. This resource was created by WGBH, the Boston PBS affiliate. WGBH is PBS’s single largest producer of educational TV programs and Internet content, and offers scores of lesson plans and other materials for classroom and home use.
Investigating the Holocaust: A Collaborative Inquiry Project http://www.thegateway.org/browse/dcrecord.2009-11-12.1060171012
Subjects: English Language Arts, World history, Research skills
As students progress though this inquiry project, they explore a variety of resource texts, images, sounds, photos, and other artifacts as they learn about the Holocaust. Working collaboratively, they investigate the materials, prepare response to share orally with the class, and produce a topic-based newspaper to complete their research. This lesson was produced by ReadWriteThink, which offers free peer-reviewed lesson plans aligned to NCTE/IRA content standards.
A Holocaust Monument
Subjects: Math/Geometry, World history, Architecture
In this activity students use geometric shapes or forms to create a Holocaust monument. The lesson is appropriate after students have studied the Holocaust enough that they are ready to express some personal response to what they have learned. The activity is provided at three levels of increasing complexity. Level one uses simple shapes and is appropriate for elementary grades, level two utilizes three dimensional forms, and level three assumes that the students have some understanding of architecture. This activity is the product of the Florida Center of Technology (FCIT) at the University of South Florida’s College of Education. FCIT works with educators to integrate technology into the curriculum, and provides training opportunities as well as lesson plans and educational activities.
~Joann's Picks - 4/15/2011~