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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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