Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.1 — Franklin Roosevelt
I. What Is Facing History and Ourselves?
Facing History and Ourselves is an international educational and professional development organization whose mission is to engage students of diverse backgrounds in an examination of racism, prejudice, and antisemitism in order to promote the development of a more humane and informed citizenry. Our program is guided by the belief that education can be an effective means of preparing youth for their role as active, thoughtful, socially responsible citizens and can serve as a preventative tool against intolerance, discrimination, and violence. Our materials and pedagogy challenge students to confront moral dilemmas that arise in history and in their own lives, reﬂect upon choices made, and “choose to participate” in creating democratic communities. Since its inception in 1976, Facing History and Ourselves has reached millions of students throughout the United States and in several other countries. More than 80 studies of Facing History’s impact support the following ﬁndings: Facing History’s impact on students: • Reduced racist attitudes, increased awareness of antisemitism, and more interest in and appreciation of other ethnic groups • More engagement in learning • Advanced social and moral development • Increased knowledge of history, including the events that led to the Holocaust and other examples of collective violence • Increased motivation to read and write; increased ability to think critically about history and one’s social and civic responsibility • Increased relational maturity, including the capacity to stand in another’s shoes and to resolve differences with others • Heightened social concern and increased sensitivity to the plight of others • Reduced ﬁghting behavior Facing History’s impact on teachers: • Revitalized interest and satisfaction with teaching and introduced them to new and effective methods • Promoted their capacity and motivation to promote students’ awareness of racism, antisemitism, and other forms of bigotry in themselves and others • Increased commitment, conﬁdence, and capacity to address complex social, civic, and ethical issues in their classrooms The Facing History journey is different for each class and each setting. At the same time, each journey is built around a core of common elements, described as follows.
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Core Elements of a Facing History and Ourselves Journey 1. Connections between history and students’ lives Educators are always looking for ways to engage students. Through decades of experience, we have learned that students are engaged when classroom material is rooted in the concerns and issues of adolescence: the overarching interest in individual and group identity, in acceptance or rejection, in conformity or non-conformity, in labeling, ostracism, loyalty, fairness, and peer group pressure. A Facing History and Ourselves student said, “I faced history one day and found myself,” articulating one of the main objectives of our materials. Rather than explore moral dilemmas and concepts of human behavior through hypothetical situations, Facing History selects particularly powerful moments in history that can be mined for ethical choices that are relevant to adolescents’ lives and their emerging responsibilities as members of a local, national, and global community. Accessing the past through the voices of real people, especially the voices of young people, helps students connect with the material in a more personal way. Our materials guide students through the process of identifying universal themes among events, while recognizing the speciﬁc context and particular choices that make every event unique. In Facing History’s pedagogy, history becomes a tool that helps students understand their own decisions, ideas, and contexts; at the same time, students’ experiences become a tool to help them better understand history. Our goal is to help students develop the habit of connecting the past and the present so that they can make informed decisions in the future. 2. Teachers as learners: Materials are professional development tools for teachers Facing History and Ourselves professional development efforts support teacher efﬁcacy in four interrelated domains: teaching for understanding; making the curriculum accessible and relevant for the diversity of students they teach and differentiating instruction appropriately; creating safe, inclusive learning communities; and promoting deliberation that fosters emotional and ethical growth and civic agency. In addition to providing workshops, individual follow-up, print publications, and online resources, Facing History and Ourselves develops lesson plans and units, like this Holocaust and Human Behavior unit, as another way to support teachers’ use of our materials in the classroom. Informed by the best practices we have culled from decades of work in classrooms, we offer lesson plans and units to educators as a vehicle for their own learning. We trust teachers as creative intellectuals and believe these lessons will be used to stimulate their own curriculum development. The joy and brilliance of teaching often comes from following up on students’ unanticipated reactions and questions, so we do not expect teachers to follow our lesson plans as a prescriptive set of instructions. We know that students’ interests, prior knowledge, skill level, and misconceptions uniquely shape each classroom, even those in the same school. Therefore, we expect teachers will diverge from our lesson plans as needed, creating their own pedagogical rationale in dialogue with their students. Our lesson plans always provide several options, including suggestions for ways to extend students’ thinking through incorporating additional resources, discussion questions, or activities. 3. Facing History’s scope and sequence The Facing History and Ourselves “scope and sequence” is a framework for teaching history and human behavior that connects the study of the past to adolescents’ social and moral development. It was ﬁrst designed to support students’ cognitive and moral growth as they explored our core case study—the events leading up to the Holocaust. Yet, teachers have found that the scope and sequence, also referred to as the Facing History journey, is a useful organizational structure for the study of any history.
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The journey begins with a study of identity—the forces that shape who we are, how the labels that we are given impact how we think about ourselves, how the multiple identities we might assume inﬂuence who we think we are, and how we see others. It then moves to questions of membership: how groups that individuals consider themselves a part of— whether they are peer, ethnic, religious, or national—deﬁne themselves and how these groups are also deﬁned by others. Then students apply these concepts to their exploration of a critical period in history. In this unit, they will study the events leading up to the Holocaust. As students learn about the choices made in the years before the Holocaust, they come to understand the fragility of democracy and discover how history is not inevitable. Next, students move to judgment—considering questions of responsibility, justice, punishment, reparations, legacy, and memory. The ﬁnal stage of this journey asks students to reﬂect on their own role as a participating member in a larger local, national, and global society. Our years of experience in the ﬁeld have demonstrated that as students move through this journey, their historical knowledge, self-awareness, and moral sophistication deepens.
4. The Pedagogical Triangle of Historical Understanding: Ethical reflection, intellectual rigor, and emotional engagement To serve as a touchstone for curriculum planning, we have created the “Pedagogical Triangle of Historical Understanding.” Facing History and Ourselves believes that historical understanding is strengthened when classroom materials are intellectually rigorous, engage students emotionally, and invite ethical reﬂection. Working together, these components foster students’ sense of civic agency: their belief that they can play a positive role in their peer groups, schools, communities, and the larger world, and their ability and willingness to “make history” by acting on that belief.
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Emotional engagement: Students ﬁnd learning more meaningful when it touches both their hearts and their heads. To teach history to adolescents, teachers need emotionally compelling materials that resonate with students’ own experiences. Stories of inclusion and ostracism, conformity and individuality, peer pressure and independent judgment, obedience and resistance have particular resonance with young adults. Intellectual rigor: Informed judgment is possible when students can apply a deep understanding of the past to choices being made today. Our resources prioritize depth over breadth. Additionally, we place a tremendous premium on historical accuracy; the sources we select are reviewed by prominent scholars and primary sources are privileged over secondary sources. To help students wrestle with the complexity and uncertainty of history, rather than reach for simple answers, Facing History’s lesson plans and units include activities to help students engage in different historical thinking skills, such as: • • • • identifying the signiﬁcance of events, decisions, ideas and documents; recognizing how multiple causes impact historical outcomes; explaining how historical context inﬂuences why and how people acted in the past; using multiple pieces of evidence representing different perspectives, often from the viewpoints of victims, bystanders, perpetrators, and upstanders; • discerning the similarities and differences between the past and today.
Ethical reflection: To help students develop their ability to make moral decisions, students need to go beyond simple explanations when interpreting choices made in the past and the present. Therefore, Facing History materials encourage students to think about various issues that inﬂuence why individuals and groups made particular choices, and the implications of their actions. The goal of Facing History and Ourselves is not to promote moral relativism but to help students understand the factors that inﬂuence decisionmaking. In addition to analyzing the choices made by individuals and groups in the past, Facing History materials ask students to think about their own decisions and their role as participants in society. 5. Reflective classroom community A Facing History and Ourselves classroom is in many ways a microcosm of democracy— a place where explicit rules and implicit norms protect everyone’s right to speak; where differing perspectives can be heard and valued; where members take responsibility for themselves, each other, and the group as a whole; and where each member has a stake and a voice in collective decisions. Facing History calls these spaces reﬂective classroom communities. Our pedagogy is designed to nurture such environments by creating a sense of trust and openness, encouraging students to speak and listen to each other, making space and time for silent reﬂection, offering multiple avenues for participation and learning, and helping students appreciate the points of view, talents, and contributions of less vocal members. A review of our suggested teaching strategies reveals an emphasis on journal writing and on multiple formats for facilitating large and small group discussions. 6. Literacy development Facing History and Ourselves is committed to helping students develop as readers, writers, and thinkers because we believe that an informed, active citizenry requires advanced literacy skills. In our materials, primary sources are privileged over secondary sources. Students read the actual words of experts in their ﬁelds (i.e., historians, psychologists, political scientists, etc.) as well as ﬁrst-hand accounts written by people, especially young adults, who lived through particular historical moments. We know that comprehending
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and analyzing text that has not been explicitly written for a youth audience can be challenging. Therefore, Facing History’s units and lesson plans include strategies aimed at helping teachers make difﬁcult texts accessible for students of varying reading levels. Our materials also help students learn to evaluate the sources of information, in terms of perspective, validity, and credibility, so that they can develop the media literacy skills required of citizens in this information age. Facing History lessons generally adhere to a speciﬁc structure (opener, main activity, and follow-through) that reﬂects best practice for developing students’ literacy skills. “Openers” activate students’ personal experience with decision-making and/or their prior knowledge with the material they will be studying. In the main activities, students are often asked to suspend their judgment as they explore a text or texts (of various media) from multiple perspectives. Activities are structured so that students have support in comprehending and making meaning of material. Authentic understanding happens when students are able to take an idea and make it their own. Therefore, the purpose of the follow-through section is to provide students with the opportunity to deepen their grasp of material explored in the lesson by reﬂecting on how these ideas resonate with their own lives and issues they see in their world today. 7. Interdisciplinary The Facing History and Ourselves curricular framework is interdisciplinary. It builds upon the methods of the humanities and social sciences: inquiry, analysis, interpretation, empathic connection, and judgment. To help students explore history from multiple perspectives, our lessons incorporate texts and ideas from various disciplines including political science, history, geography, literature, ﬁne arts, science, and psychology. Additionally, because we respect and celebrate different learning styles, the teaching strategies we suggest encourage students to learn and express themselves through different modalities, such as writing, speaking, drawing, and movement.
Betty Bardige, “Facing History and Ourselves Core Ideas in Brief: A Series of Conversations Among Theory, Research and Practice“ (Brookline: Facing History and Ourselves National Foundation, forthcoming). Facing History and Ourselves, “Bill Moyers Interviewed: Lessons to Be Learned from Studying the Holocaust and the Nuremberg Trials,” Newsletter, Fall 1986. Margot Stern Strom, “Facing History and Ourselves: Holocaust and Human Behavior,” Moral Education Forum (Summer 1981). Margot Stern Strom, “Facing Today and the Future: Choosing to Participate,” Moral Education Forum 14, no. 3 (Fall 1989): 1–6.
II. Why Teach About the Holocaust and Human Behavior?
In 1976, Facing History and Ourselves began as a 12-week unit for eighth graders, a capstone for their American History and Civics sequence. Its ﬁrst teachers, Margot Stern Strom and William Parsons, teamed up during a workshop that urged the inclusion of the history of the Holocaust in the middle and high school curricula. At the time, this history was scarcely taught in U.S. schools. It was represented—if at all—by a paragraph or at most a few pages near the end of the commonly used history and civics texts. As they thought about the failures that led to the Holocaust, they realized how important it was for students to understand the fragility of democracy. They wanted their students to think about the use and abuse of science, technology, propaganda, and state power, as
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well as about the possibilities for international cooperation to prevent the recurrence of genocidal violence. They wanted their students to be keenly aware that history was not inevitable, and that the decisions of ordinary citizens and those they chose or permitted to lead could change its direction. They wanted to ensure that their students learned how to do what too many in Germany and throughout the world had failed to do—to distinguish between patriotic loyalty and blind obedience and to stand up to hatred and injustice. Through teaching their own students about the events leading up to the Holocaust, Strom and Parsons discovered how this history was crucial to any teaching about the importance of civic participation and social responsibility. Strom left the classroom in 1980 to begin the initial dissemination of the methods and materials that were inspired by her work with students and colleagues. This work, supported by a federal grant, led to the founding of the nonproﬁt organization Facing History and Ourselves. With the support of the dissemination grant, the content of the program was continually enhanced by the advice and testimony of psychologists and psychiatrists, Holocaust survivors and scholars, teachers and students, and experts in the emerging ﬁelds of moral development and moral education. This collective wisdom became the resource book Facing History and Ourselves: Holocaust and Human Behavior. Millions of students around the world have used the resources in this book, enabling us to learn about the impact of studying the events leading to the Holocaust. Over the past 30 years, we have amassed convincing evidence that an in-depth study of the choices made by individuals, groups, and nations that resulted in the Holocaust is one way to help students develop as moral decision-makers and thoughtful community members. These ﬁndings are summed up by the reﬂections of former Facing History student and current Facing History teacher, Rafael Castillo:
When I took the Facing History course back in 8th grade, it helped me understand that history was a part of me and that I was a part of history. If I understood why people made the choices they did, I could better understand how I make choices and hopefully make the right ones. By studying the Holocaust, the result of ordinary choices by ordinary people, I realized that similar choices could present themselves to me and that I needed to act differently from the way people did then. But if I wanted things to turn out differently, it wouldn’t be enough for me alone to act differently—I had to help others do the same. That is why I decided to become a teacher. My goal is not to tell my students what they must do. My goal is to make sure that they can think and care.2
Facing History and Ourselves has helped educators around the world recognize the importance of teaching students about the events leading up to the Holocaust. While the context of Germany from 1920–1945 was certainly unique, in this history we can still ﬁnd themes that are familiar to us today—themes such as peer pressure, obedience, fear and self-preservation, opportunism, and prejudice. When students have a deeper understanding of how these factors inﬂuenced the choices made by individuals, groups and nations during the Holocaust, as well as the years that preceded this horriﬁc tragedy, they gain a tool that can help them navigate their own moral universe. Henry Zabierek, the director of social studies in Brookline, Massachusetts, answered the question, “Why study Facing History and Ourselves: Holocaust and Human Behavior?” in this way:
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This curriculum is about more than the Holocaust. It’s about the reading and the writing and the arithmetic of genocide, but it’s also about such R’s as rethinking, reflecting, and reasoning. It’s about prejudice, discrimination and scapegoating; but it’s also about human dignity, morality, law, and citizenship. It’s about avoiding and forgetting, but it’s also about civic courage and justice. In an age of “back to basics” this curriculum declares that there is one thing more basic, more sacred, than any of the three R’s; namely, the sanctity of human life.3
As you embark on this Facing History journey with your students, we invite you to create your own rationale that inspires and guides the unique way you choose to incorporate our materials and methodology into your teaching practice.
III. Journals in a Facing History Classroom*
Philosopher Hannah Arendt, herself a refugee of the Holocaust, asked, “Could the activity of thinking . . . be among the conditions that make men abstain from evildoing or even ‘condition’ them against it?”4 A study of Nazi Germany reveals the danger that can befall a society that is conditioned not to critically examine the world around them. Adolf Hitler remarked, “What luck for leaders that men do not think.”5 His belief that people “do not think” (or that people could be conditioned to not think) gave him conﬁdence that he could push through his racist agenda without much resistance. Indeed, the Nazis built an education system that force-fed knowledge and propaganda and discouraged questioning and individual thought. They also prohibited free speech and free assembly, and kept their citizenry so busy with state-required tasks and meetings that there was “no time A Facing History student writes in his journal. to think.” Just as dictatorships like the Third Reich rely on an unthinking populace to maintain control, healthy democracies depend on a citizenry capable of critical thinking in order to support institutions such as a free press, an evenhanded judicial system, and fair and open elections. Facing History and Ourselves is committed to helping students develop their ability to critically examine their surroundings from multiple perspectives and to make informed judgments about what they see and hear. Keeping a journal is one tool that Facing
*Our ideas about the importance of journals in a Facing History and Ourselves classroom have been informed by decades of experience listening to teachers and students as well as by academic research, especially the following studies: Lisa Colt, Fanny Connelly, and John Paine, “Excerpts from Student Journals in Response to the Curriculum Facing History and Ourselves: Holocaust and Human Behavior.” Moral Education Forum, Summer 1981.
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History has found instrumental in helping students develop these skills. A journal might be deﬁned as any place where thoughts are recorded and stored. Loose-leaf and bound notebooks both make excellent journals. Many students ﬁnd that writing or drawing in a journal helps them process ideas, formulate questions, and retain information. Journals make learning visible by providing a safe, accessible space for students to share thoughts, feelings and uncertainties. In this way, journals are also an assessment tool—something teachers can review to better understand what their students know, what they are struggling to understand, and how their thinking has changed over time. In addition to strengthening students’ critical thinking skills, journal writing serves other purposes as well. Journals help nurture classroom community. Through reading and commenting on journals, teachers build relationships with students. Frequent journal writing also helps students become more ﬂuent in expressing their ideas in writing or speaking. Students use their journals in different ways. Some students may record ideas throughout class while others may only use it when there is a particular teacher-driven assignment. Some students need prompts to support their writing, while other students feel more comfortable expressing their ideas without any external structure. Just as students vary in how they use their journals, teachers vary in their approach to journal writing as well. While there are many effective ways to use a journal as a learning tool in the classroom, below are six suggestions that we offer based on decades of experience working with teachers and students. Questions to Consider When Using Journals in the Classroom 1. What is the teacher’s relationship with students’ journals? Students are entitled to know how you plan on reading their journals. Will you read everything they write? If they want to keep something private, is this possible? If so, how do students indicate that they do not want you to read something? Will their journals be graded? If so, by what critieria? (See more on grading journals below.) For teachers at most schools, it can be impossible to read everything students write in their journals; there just is not enough time in the day. For this reason, some teachers decide to collect students’ journals once a week and read only a page or two—sometimes a page the student selects and sometimes a page selected by the teacher. Other teachers may never collect students’ journals, but might glance at them during class time or might ask students to incorporate quotes and ideas from their journals into collected assignments. You can set limits on the degree to which you have access to students’ journals. Many teachers establish a rule that if students wish to keep information in their journals private, they should fold the page over or remove the page entirely. 2. What is appropriate content for journals? It is easy for students to confuse a class journal with a diary (or blog) because both of these formats allow for open-ended writing. Teachers should clarify how the audience and purpose for this writing is distinct from the audience and purpose for writing in a personal diary. In most classrooms, the audience for journal writing is the author, the teacher, and at times, peers. Facing History believes the purpose of journal writing is to provide a space where students can connect their personal experiences and opinions to the concepts and events they are studying in the classroom. Therefore, some material that is appropriate to include in their personal diaries may not be appropriate to include in their class journals. To avoid uncomfortable situations, many teachers find it helpful to clarify topics that are not suitable material for journal entries. Also, as mandatory reporters in most school
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districts, teachers should explain that they are required to take certain steps, such as informing a school official, if students reveal information about possible harm to themselves or another student. Students should be made aware of these rules, as well as other guidelines you might have about appropriate journal writing content. 3. How will journals be evaluated? Many students admit that they are less likely to share their true thoughts or express questions when they are worried about a grade based on getting the “right” answer or using proper grammar or spelling. Therefore, we suggest that if you choose to grade students’ journals, which many teachers decide to do, that you base these grades on criteria such as effort, thoughtfulness, completion, creativity, curiosity, and making connections between the past and the present. Additionally, there are many ways to provide students with feedback on their journals besides traditional grading, such as by writing comments or asking questions. Students can even evaluate their own journals for evidence of intellectual and moral growth. For example, you might have students look through their journal to find evidence of their ability to ask questions or to make connections between what was happening in Nazi Germany and an event from their own life. 4. What forms of expression can be included in a journal? Students learn and communicate best in different ways. The journal is an appropriate space to respect different learning styles. Some students may wish to draw their ideas, rather than record thoughts in words. Other students may feel most comfortable responding in concept webs and lists, as opposed to prose. When you introduce the journal to students, you might brainstorm different ways that they might express their thoughts. 5. How can journals be used to help students build vocabulary? Throughout this unit, students will be encountering new vocabulary, while they develop a more sophisticated understanding of concepts which might already be familiar to them. From the earliest days of Facing History, the journal was used as a place to help students build their vocabulary through constructing “working definitions.” The phrase “working definition” implies that our understanding of concepts evolve as we are confronted with new information and experiences. Students’ definitions of words such as “identity” or “belonging” should be richer at the end of the unit than they are on day one. We suggest you use the journal—perhaps a special section of it—as a space where students can record, review, and refine their definitions of important terms referred to in this unit. (Note: Each lesson plan includes a list of key terms.) 6. How should journal content be publicly shared? Most Facing History teachers have found that students are best able to express themselves when they believe that their journal is a private space. Therefore, we suggest that information in students’ journals is never publicly shared without the consent of the writer. At the same time, we encourage you to provide multiple opportunities for students to voluntarily share ideas and questions they have recorded in their journals. Some students may feel more comfortable reading directly from their journals than speaking “off-the-cuff ” in class discussions. Suggestions for Using Journals in the Classroom Once you settle on the norms and expectations for journal writing in your class, there are many possible ways that you can have students record ideas in their journals. Here are some examples:
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Teacher-selected prompts: One of the most common ways that teachers use journals is by asking students to respond to a particular prompt. This writing often prepares students to participate in a class activity, helps students make connections between the themes of a lesson and their own lives, or provides an opportunity for students to make meaning of ideas in a reading or ﬁlm. In every lesson, you will ﬁnd suggested prompts for journal writing. Dual-entry format: Students draw a line down the center of the journal page or fold the
page in half. They write the factual notes (“What the text says” or “What the historians say”) on one side and on the other side their feelings about the notes (“Reactions”).
“Lifted line” responses: One way to have students respond to what they have read is to
ask them to “lift a line”—select a particular quotation that strikes them—and then answer questions such as, “What is interesting about this quotation? What ideas does it make you think about? What questions does this line raise for you?”
Brainstorming: The journal is an appropriate place where students can freely list ideas
related to a speciﬁc word or question. To activate prior knowledge before students learn new material, you might ask students to brainstorm everything they know about a concept or an event. As a strategy for reviewing material, you might ask students to brainstorm ideas they remember about a topic. Moreover, as a pre-writing exercise, students can brainstorm ways of responding to an essay prompt.
Freewriting: Freewriting is open, no-format writing. Freewriting can be an especially
effective strategy when you want to help students process particularly sensitive or provocative material. Some students respond extremely well to freewriting while other students beneﬁt from more structure, even if that means a loosely-framed prompt such as, “What are you thinking about after watching/reading/hearing this material? What does this text remind you of?”
Creative writing: Many students enjoy writing poems or short stories that incorporate the themes addressed in a particular lesson. To stimulate their work, some students beneﬁt from ideas that structure their writing, such as a speciﬁc poem format or an opening linefor a story (example: Once upon a time, I could not believe my eyes when my friend came running down the street, yelling…). Drawings, charts, and webs: Students do not have to express their ideas in words. At appropriate times, encourage students to draw their feelings or thoughts. They can also use symbols, concept maps, Venn diagrams, and other charts to record information. Note-taking: To help students retain new information, they can record notes in their
journals. Notes could be taken in various formats—such as lists, concept maps, or in graphic organizers.
Vocabulary: Students can use their journals as a place to keep their working deﬁnitions of
terms, noting how those deﬁnitions change as they go deeper into the resources. The back section of their journals could be used as a glossary—the place where students record deﬁnitions and where they can turn to review and revise their deﬁnitions as these terms come up throughout the unit.
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K-W-L charts: To keep track of their learning in this unit, students can keep a K-W-L
chart in their journals. In this three-column chart, the ﬁrst column “K” represents what students already know about a topic. The second column, “W,” represents what they want to know. And, “L,” the third column, is where they record what they have learned.
Interviews: From time to time you might ask students to interview classmates, family, or community members about particular themes or questions. Students can record data from their interviews in their journals. Sharing: While there will be times when some students will not want to publicly share
thoughts from their journals, most of the time students are eager to have the opportunity to select something from their journals to share with a small group or the larger class. There may be times when you let students know in advance that what they wrote will be shared with the class. A pass-around is an exercise in which journals are “passed around” from one student to the next. Students read the page that is opened (and only that page!) and then write connections they see in their own lives, current events, or other moments in history.
IV. Developing Vocabulary in a Facing History Classroom
Facing History and Ourselves believes that deﬁnitions are “works-in-progress.” Our understanding of ideas is continually reﬁned as we learn new information, often in collaboration with others. As they study the past and reﬂect on experiences in the present, we encourage students to construct their own meaning of important concepts explored in this unit. The “working deﬁnitions” provided in this glossary reﬂect how students might begin to deﬁne key terms in the context of studying Facing History and Ourselves: Holocaust and Human Behavior.
Strategies for helping students build their vocabulary Journals: Students can use their journals as a place to keep their working definitions of terms, noting how those definitions change as they learn more about the past and the present. The back section of their journals could be used as a place where students record, review, and revise their working definitions. Word walls: A “word wall” is a large display in the classroom where the meanings of important ideas are displayed, using words and pictures. New terms can be added to the word wall as needed. Students can update the ideas on their word wall as they learn new information and develop a deeper understanding of key terms. Visualizing vocabulary: Expressing concepts through an image, such as a drawing or symbol, often helps students comprehend and retain information. You might ask students to draw their definitions of key terms and share their drawings with the class. Some of these drawings might be included on a word wall.
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Glossary of Key Terms Related to a Study of Facing History and Ourselves: Holocaust and Human Behavior aliens — immigrants who are not citizens allies — the nations ﬁghting against the Germans during World War II, including the United States, the Soviet Union, and Britain antisemitism — hatred for Jews, often leading to discrimination against Jewish people Article 48 — a section of the Weimar Republic’s constitution that allowed the President to pass laws without the approval of the Reichstag (parliament) in times of crisis Aryans — a made-up race of Nordic people whom the Nazis said invaded India many centuries ago; the Nazis believed the Aryans were their direct ancestors and that Aryans are superior to people of other races atrocities — crimes audience — the person or people who receive a message Auschwitz — a town in what is now southwest Poland; site of the biggest Nazi concentration camp during World War II authority — the person or group of people in charge of a group, the leader belonging — being accepted, the feeling that you are part of a larger community blind obedience — obeying orders without thinking about consequences of these actions for yourself or others bully — a person or group that tries to intimidate and overpower someone else bureaucracy — the rules, structures, and regulations that control individuals’ work within an organization, typically a large organization like a government ofﬁce bureaucrat — a person working for an organization whose job requires following orders and procedures bystanders — a person or a group of people who see unacceptable behavior but do nothing to stop it chancellor — leader of the Reichstag, the Weimar Republic’s parliament choosing to participate — the act of deciding to act in ways that beneﬁt a larger community citizen — a person who is given special legal rights as a member of a nation civic education — the preparation of citizens, training people for their role as members of larger communities community — a group of people who share certain characteristics, such as proximity (they live close to each other), beliefs, or backgrounds concentration camps — places where “enemies of a state” are held against their will and often forced to do heavy labor. In 1933, the Nazis opened their ﬁrst concentration camp for people who disagreed with their ideas. Later, during World War II, they sent millions of Jews and other victims, including gypsies and homosexuals, to concentration camps where most of them were killed, either by being murdered or as a result of horrible living conditions. conformity — when people act in the same ways and/or believe the same ideas as other people in their group in order to feel a sense of belonging consequences — the results of a person or group’s actions or behaviors constitution — a document which sets up the way a nation will govern itself contract — an agreement crimes against humanity — planned and organized murder or other inhumane acts committed against a group of people
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democracy — a form of government in which people have a voice in how they are governed, such as by voting in elections deportation — when a person or a group of people are removed, by force, from the place where they live depression — a time when many workers are unemployed. Companies make less money and some may close. As a result, workers lose their jobs. dictator — a person who has complete control of how a nation is governed dictatorship — a government ruled by a dictator discrimination — treating people differently, usually unfairly, because they belong to a particular group dissent — disagreeing with a person or a group of people emigration — moving from one’s native country in order to settle in another exclusion — when someone is not allowed membership in a group expectations/norms/rules — guidelines a group develops together and agrees to follow extermination — to kill on a large scale Facing History and Ourselves — a nonproﬁt organization that encourages students of many different backgrounds to look at racism, prejudice and antisemitism in order to promote the development of a more humane and informed citizenry fear — being scared of a person, place, thing, or idea Final Solution — the Nazi program of killing the Jews of Europe during World War II fragility — being delicate or fragile; easily broken genocide — acts committed with the intent to destroy an ethnic, racial, national, or religious group Gestapo — German police in Nazi Germany ghetto — during World War II in Europe, a section of a city in which all of the Jews were required to live head and heart — participating in an activity with both your mind (head) and your feelings (heart) Heinrich Himmler — one of the most powerful Nazi politicians. He was head of the Gestapo and also oversaw the Final Solution (the planned mass murder of Jews and others deemed unﬁt). President Paul von Hindenburg — President of the Weimar Republic (Germany) from 1925 to 1934. He appointed Hitler to the position of Chancellor of the Reichstag (parliament). historical context — the particular events, trends, and ideas that characterize a particular time and place Adolf Hitler — the Nazi dictator of Germany from 1933 to 1945 Holocaust — a period of 4 years (1941–1944) during which the Nazis organized and carried out the murder of six million Jews, as well as millions of others such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, Gypsies, and homosexuals identity — how a person answers the question, “Who am I?” often including their interests, beliefs, religion, family, ethnic background, etc. Identity is shaped by the individual and it is also inﬂuenced by society. ideology — a set of beliefs inclusion — when someone is allowed to join a particular group or community inflation — when money loses its value. During inﬂation, you need more money to buy the same item (e.g., $3 to buy milk that used to cost $2). intermarriage — marriage between people of two different backgrounds; in this case, marrying someone from a different religion, such as a Jew marrying a Protestant isolated — to be separated from the main group
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Jew — a person who is considered to be a member of the Jewish community because of a shared faith, history, or cultural background judgment — the act of evaluating behavior (in terms of right and wrong), deciding who is responsible for this behavior, and determining rewards or punishments justice — when one receives their deserved punishment or reward Kristallnacht — “the night of broken glass”; a night of organized street violence against Jews in Germany and Austria (November 9–10, 1938) mass murder — the widespread murder of a large number of people media — different methods of communication (such as TV, Internet, magazines, newspapers, etc.) that reach a wide audience membership — belonging to a group memorials — places to remember and honor special people or events message — an idea that a person or group tries to communicate to other messenger — someone or something that distributes a message Nazi — a member of the Nazi political party Nazi Party — (the National Socialist German Workers’ Party) a political group (party) founded in Germany in 1919. Its main leader was Adolf Hitler. The Nazi Party supported the idea that only people of Aryan decent should be citizens of Germany and that Jews, and others deemed unﬁt, should be removed from the country. Nuremberg laws — a set of laws passed by the Nazis in 1935. The laws classiﬁed people as German if all four of their grandparents were of “German blood,” while people were classiﬁed as Jews if they had three or four Jewish grandparents. A person with one or two Jewish grandparents was called a Mischling, a crossbreed. These laws were later used to decide who would be deported to ghettos and concentration camps. oath — a vow or promise obedience — following rules, orders or commands opportunism — taking advantage of a situation from which you might beneﬁt without considering (or disregarding) the consequences for others ostracism — excluding a person or group from the larger community others — people we deﬁne as different and separate from us party platform — a document that lists the core beliefs of a political party peer pressure — the idea that you need to act in a certain way to maintain a friendship or be accepted in a social group; doing something or believing something just because that is what your friends are doing or believing perpetrators — those who commit crimes and other acts of injustice or violence persecution — being treated unfairly, often because of your beliefs or background political party — a group of people who share the same beliefs about how government should be run prejudice — to pre-judge a person because of a group to which that person belongs propaganda — information spread for the purpose of inﬂuencing opinions, often for or against a particular idea or group. To persuade an audience, propaganda often uses lies, misleading information, or appeals to emotions rather than reason. punishment — a penalty for bad or illegal behavior race — a classiﬁcation of human beings based on the idea that people can be divided into separate genetic groups often based on skin tone. This classiﬁcation is often used to support a false belief that some groups of people are genetically superior to other groups of people. reflection — the process of thinking deeply about an idea or event, often personal in nature (such as by thinking about your opinion or your experience with a topic) Reichsmark — the German money used during the Weimar and Nazi eras
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Reichstag — the German word for the building where laws are made, like our Capitol in Washington DC; also refers to the German legislature between 1871 and 1942 to which members were elected (until 1933), just as Americans elect members to Congress religion — a belief system based around spirituality and/or a divinity reparations — paying back those who suffered from a crime rescuers — people who attempt to save victims of violence resettlement — when people leave their homes (often under force) and move elsewhere resistance — questioning authority or ﬁghting back against unjust treatment resisters — those who ﬁght back against authority responsibility — one’s duty or obligation restitution — making things better after a crime or injury scapegoating — when a person or group is assigned blame for a larger problem or issue self-determination — the belief that every nation (or group of people) should have its own independent state and not be ruled by others stereotype — a generalization about an entire group of people; a belief that each member of a particular group possesses the same characteristic supremacy — to be (or deem oneself to be) above or superior to another person or group survivors — people who have lived through an experience of violence or injustice synagogue — a Jewish house of worship Treaty of Versailles — the peace treaty signed in 1919 that ended World War I and made clear Germany’s defeat. Germany was ordered to pay back the victors (primarily France, Britain, and Russia) with money and land. Many Germans felt this was unfair and humiliating. Universe of Responsibility — how we deﬁne whom we are responsible for helping and protecting upstander — an individual, group, or nation who witnesses injustice and take steps to stop or prevent it victims — people who have been abused and/or attacked, verbally and/or physically Weimar Republic — the regime in post–World War I Germany, from 1919 until 1934 when Adolf Hitler took power
V. How to Use This Curriculum
This unit has been developed to support teachers’ use of the resource book Facing History and Ourselves: Holocaust and Human Behavior. It includes seventeen lessons. We expect that the implementation of these lessons will vary by schools and by classrooms, depending on students’ interests, prior knowledge, skill level, and misconceptions. Therefore, we expect teachers to diverge from our lesson plans as needed. Each lesson plan is divided into three main sections — the Why, the What, and the How — which are explained below.
Why teach this material?
This section includes the rationale for the lesson and the lesson’s learning goals, framed in terms of what students should understand (guiding questions), know (key terms), and be able to do (skills). You can draw from these learning goals when creating assignments (e.g., tests, essays, projects, etc.) to evaluate student learning.
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What is this lesson about?
This section provides a summary of key concepts and events from relevant chapters of the resource book Facing History and Ourselves: Holocaust and Human Behavior. In addition to reading Part II of each lesson, we strongly recommend that you read the relevant chapters in the resource book as well. While most of the information in this section is drawn from Facing History and Ourselves: Holocaust and Human Behavior, it also includes information from other sources, especially the Facing History publication Elements of Time. This book can be downloaded from the Facing History website (www.facinghistory.org) free of charge. To supplement your understanding of the events leading up to the Holocaust, we encourage you to watch one of the many ﬁlms made about this critical event in history. The ﬁlms recommended below, among many others, can be borrowed from the Facing History library. Because they were not produced for a middle-school audience, we have not included these ﬁlms in this unit. After viewing them, however, you will be able to decide if particular excerpts are appropriate for your students. (For more information on resources available from Facing History’s lending library, refer to our website: www.facinghistory.org. The lending library search engine can be found under Educator Resources.)
For more background on the history of the Holocaust: Recommended films for teachers Genocide (52 minutes, Social Studies School Service) This is part of the British World at War television series, narrated by Sir Laurence Olivier. It is a chronological account of the methodical extermination of Jews under Hitler, from the beginning of his years in power until his death. Scenes of personal testimony from victims, perpetrators, and bystanders intersperse the historical overview. This video offers a fairly complete overview of the Holocaust. Note: This film is not recommended for younger audiences. The Nazis: A Warning from History (6 episodes, A&E Home Video) This 6-part series from The History Channel explores the history of the Third Reich, using recently discovered documents and archival footage from former Soviet bloc nations. The second episode, “Chaos and Consent,” is particularly relevant to the material in this unit. It begins in 1933 with the Nazi ascent to power and concludes on the eve of the Second World War. Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransports (118 minutes, Movies Unlimited) In the nine months prior to World War II, Britain conducted a rescue mission unmatched by any other country at the time. It opened its doors to 10,000 children at risk from the Nazi regime in Germany, Austria, and what was later Czechoslovakia. These children were taken into foster homes and hostels in Britain, expecting eventually to be reunited with their parents. The majority of the children never saw their families again. This feature-length documentary recounts the remarkable rescue operation, known as the Kindertransport, and its dramatic impact on the lives of the children who were saved.
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How can we help students engage with this material?
This section provides ideas about how to organize the lesson to help students achieve the learning goals described in Part I. It is divided into the following sub-sections:
Duration: Most lessons can be implemented in one 45-minute class period. Lessons 7, 12, 13, 14, and 15 have been designed to cover two class periods, or approximately 90 minutes. If you provide class time for students to construct their own memorials, the ﬁnal lesson in the unit, Lesson 17, might take three class periods. These are only suggested guidelines. Based on your own classroom context and your students’ needs, lessons might run longer or shorter. If you need to shorten the lesson, you might assign the followthrough activity for homework. The extension section provides ideas for how to deepen students’ experience with the material addressed in the lesson. Materials: In this unit, students explore documents, memoirs, ﬁlm, images, and other
resources in order to gain a deeper understanding of the Holocaust and human behavior. Most of the lessons in this unit incorporate readings from Facing History and Ourselves: Holocaust and Human Behavior. Often we have provided excerpts of these readings as handouts. Graphic organizers, historical documents, and other materials have also been included as handouts. All handouts can be found at the end of the lesson plan. The following four ﬁlms are included as part of the main activities of Lessons 13, 14, and 16:
Childhood Memories (57 minutes, Facing History and Ourselves)
Through interviews of eleven Holocaust survivors and witnesses, this montage examines what conditions were like for Jewish and non-Jewish children living in Nazi-occupied Europe before and during World War II.
I’m Still Here: Diaries of Young People Who Lived During the Holocaust (48 minutes, MTV Video)
This film presents the diaries of young people who experienced first-hand the terror of daily life during the Holocaust. Through an emotional montage of archival footage, personal photos, and text from the diaries themselves, the film tells the story of a group of young writers who refused to quietly disappear.
Remembering the Past: Sonia Weitz’s History (24 minutes, Facing History and Ourselves)
Sonia Weitz was born in Krakow, Poland, in 1928. She describes her life as relatively peaceful until 1939. By 1941, Sonia and her family were forced to enter the Krakow Ghetto. After her mother was murdered, Sonia, along with her sister and father, were sent to the slave labor camp of Plaszow in 1943. For more than a year she and her sister labored there. They were sent to Auschwitz in 1944. They had spent only a few days in Auschwitz when they were forced to take part in the “Death March.” The March led them to Bergen-Belsen for a brief time, and then to the small German labor camp of Venusberg. Their final destination was Mauthausen where they were liberated by the Americans. After being liberated, Sonia lived in various displaced persons camps in Austria. She eventually moved to the United States with her sister and brother-in-law. As she recounts these experiences, Sonia shares poems she wrote describing pivotal moments in her past.
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Paper Clips (84 minutes, Hart Sharp Video)
Struggling to grasp the concept of six million Holocaust victims, the students at Whitwell Middle School in rural Tennessee decided to collect six million paper clips to better understand the extent of this crime against humanity. This film tells the story of how this project affected the residents of this community, as well as people from around the world. These ﬁlms can be found in your school’s own library or can be borrowed from the Facing History library. Sonia Weitz’s testimony is included on the CD that is in your binder. In addition, the extension section of many lessons recommends other ﬁlms that can be borrowed from Facing History’s lending library. Another important companion to this curriculum guide is the Facing History and Ourselves website, www.facinghistory.org. Many of the teaching strategies referred to in these lessons, as well as additional teaching strategies, are described in more detail in the “Teaching Strategies” section of the website, found in the “Classroom Strategies” section of Educator Resources. In the Facing Today section, you can ﬁnd resources that connect current events to Facing History themes and topics. On www.facinghistory.org, you can browse the resources in our lending library and learn about our other publications and workshops.
Opener: The purpose of the opener is to prepare students for the material they will be
studying in this lesson.
Main Activity: In this section, students are introduced to new material, usually through
reading historical texts, watching ﬁlms, or listening to a brief lecture. The main activity section suggests ideas for how to help students comprehend and interpret this new information.
Follow-Through: The purpose of the follow-through is to provide students with the opportunity to deepen their grasp of material explored in the lesson by reﬂecting on how these ideas resonate with their own lives and issues they see in their world today. The activities suggested in this section often make appropriate homework assignments. Assessment: This section includes ideas for how you can evaluate students’ learning, both formally and informally. Extensions: This section includes resources and activities that could be used in addition to, or in place of, the main lesson. Handouts: Graphic organizers, historical documents, and other teaching resources are
located at the end of each lesson. You should adapt these to ﬁt the needs of your students.
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Franklin D. Roosevelt, “Message for American Week,” September 27, 1938, The American Presidency Project, University of California, Santa Barbara website, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=15545 (accessed January 20, 2009). 2 2008 New York Benefit Dinner, DVD (Brookline: Facing History and Ourselves, 2008). 3 Margot Stern Strom, Facing History and Ourselves: Holocaust and Human Behavior (Brookline: Facing History and Ourselves National Foundation, 1994), xxiv. 4 Hannah Arendt, The Life of the Mind (Orlando: Harcourt, Inc. 1971), 5. 5 Quoted in Joachim Fest, The Face of the Third Reich (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1970), 39.
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