Lesson plans, activities, and other resources to help you teach about and reflect upon the Holocaust
- Use brainstorming techniques
- Organize information
- Integrate and use information
- Read for literacy experience
- Participate in a literature circle
- Read a nonfiction book
- Analyze a book for its elements
- Discuss and take notes on what they have read
- Learn about the Holocaust
- Complete a KWL chart
- KWL Chart printable
- Nonfiction Literature Circle Response Sheet printable
- Survivors: True Stories of Children in the Holocaust by Allan Zullo and Mara Bovsun, one copy per student plus one for you
- Chart paper or whiteboard and markers
- Pencils or pens
- Become familiar with the key events in Hitler's rise to power in 1933 through the collapse of the Nazi regime in 1945. Information regarding these events can be read in the article "Brief History of the Holocaust" available on the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Website. Here are other helpful websites:
- Review vocabulary relating to the Holocaust: genocide, tolerance, persecution, concentration camp, Nazi, death camp, holocaust, resistance, and prejudice.
- Make a class set of the KWL Chart printable.
- Make enough copies of the Nonfiction Literature Circle Response Sheet printable to give eight copies to each Literature Circle group.
Step 1: Introduce the lesson by having students brainstorm what they know about the Holocaust. Ask students if they have ever studied the Holocaust, the causes and effects of the Holocaust, or how to prevent a Holocaust in the future.
Step 2: Create a KWL chart on a piece of chart paper or the whiteboard and hand out copies of the KWL Chart printable. Ask students if they have used a KWL chart before and what it is used for.
Step 3: Guide students through the KWL chart. Encourage students to discuss first the "What I Know About the Holocaust" section, and then the "What I Want to Know About the Holocaust" section. As you discuss these sections as a class, students should take notes on their own KWL charts using the "What do I know?" and "What do I want to find out?" sections.
Step 4: Explain to students that tomorrow they will be working in Literature Circles and reading the nonfiction book Survivors: True Stories of Children in the Holocaust, by Allan Zullo and Mara Bovsun, to complete the "What I Learned About the Holocaust" section of the KWL chart.
Step 1: Create Literature Circles of 4–5 students per team. The students will read together the nonfiction book Survivors: True Stories of Children in the Holocaust.
Step 2: Distribute the books to each literature circle group.
Step 3: Read the introduction on pages 1 through 4 aloud to students. This will give students background information about Hitler and the Holocaust.
Step 4: Distribute one copy of the Nonfiction Literature Circle Response Sheet printable to each group. Explain to the class that in this book there are eight different true stories of children in the Holocaust. After they read one story, they are to complete a response sheet. After reading another story, they are to complete a second response sheet, and so on. By the end of the book, each team should have eight response sheets filled out and ready to turn in.
Note: Have a stack of response sheets available for when students need them
Step 5: Encourage students to use the response sheets to help answer the questions in the "What do I want to find out?" section of their KWL charts.
Step 1: After completing the literature circle reading of the nonfiction book, guide students to complete the "What I Learned About the Holocaust" section of the class KWL chart. Students should complete the corresponding section of their KWL charts.
Step 2: Engage students in a classroom discussion of the KWL chart. Encourage students to brainstorm ideas about how to prevent another Holocaust.
Supporting All Learners
Students having difficulty with this lesson should be given more time to read Survivors: True Stories of Children in the Holocaust and complete response sheets. ESL students may complete their KWL Chart printables and the Nonfiction Literature Circle Response Sheet printable in their native languages.
Students can take a skills test such as AR, SRC, etc. over the nonfiction book to accumulate points towards their yearly goal.
Once students have completed the KWL Chart printables, have students take the charts home and ask parents and guardians help them add more information. Students can bring the charts back to class for further discussion.
- Complete KWL chart.
- Read Survivor: True Stories of Children in the Holocaust in literature circle groups.
- Discuss the Holocaust.
- Was the KWL chart helpful in organizing the Holocaust information?
- Did the students achieve the knowledge that you wanted them too?
- Did the students stay on task in the literature circles?
- Was three days long enough for the literature circles?
For assessment, use participation in class discussions, completion of the individual KWL charts, participation in the literature circles, and completion of the Nonfiction Literature Circle Response Sheet printable.