By Jen Barrese and Tami Thompson
Cold Spring Harbor High School, New York
In eighth grade at Cold Spring Harbor, students spend a portion of the year learning about the Holocaust. In social studies class they learn about it from an historical point of view, and in English they read personal accounts of Holocaust survivors. For the first time, peer education was used to enforce these lessons. Prior to the eighth graders reading of The Cage by Ruth Minsky Sender, we spent two days discussing with them the Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Firl and Zlata's Diary. Below is the lesson plan that we initiated during this time period:
Pre-lesson (two days ahead): Hand out a packet providing background information on the Holocaust, reinforcing what students have already learned in social studies class.
Anne Frank -- July 15, 1944: "In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart."
Anne Frank -- July 8, 1942: "Memories mean more to me than dresses."
Zlata Filipovic: "I don't believe in God, but I believe in destiny. I think everything is written somewhere. Destiny finds you."
This lesson proved to be a great success. The students loved it. We all learned a lot. On the first day, after briefly explaining what had happened during the Holocaust, one boy raised his hand and said, "But this could never happen here, in the United States, and it could never happen now during the 20th century." We were happy to find that after our two day lesson the boy wrote to us saying, "I learned a lot in these two days. Most importantly, I learned that this sort of thing can happen nowadays, and that it does happen. But I learned that through education we can prevent it from happening. Thank you for teaching us." As long as one person admitted this, we knew the whole class felt it, and we were proud that we had actually accomplished what we set out to do.
We were very impressed with the projects the students completed. Several eighth graders chose to write poems.
Anne and Zlata
Their lives resembled a flower
which came up without any cower.
Their plan was to bloom with such
a great power,
but this plan was ruined. For
when a storm arose, these flowers
were torn from their place
and left without much space.
As the dark of your cellar burns you in isolation.
Your mind a house of memories.
The gun shots beyond your walls and dying screams
Does this remind you of better days?
A child falls, and on blood streaked walkways,
the soldiers move on.
A barrier to a soul once-free
A poison pervading a mind
A slaughter, each second a minute, each minute an hour
A mute on a resonant life
A fire; extinguished
A loving circle; torn
No love, no care, no smiles, no help
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Access the HGP's An End to Intolerance Web page.
Access the Holocaust/Genocide Project's Home Page.