Tomorrow, April 23, as part of the national Days of Remembrance program, President Obama will visit the U.S. Memorial Holocaust Museum and deliver a speech on the importance of remembering the Holocaust – and working to prevent genocide and end indifference. His speech marks my first update to my Remembering Anne Frank 2011 and 2010 posts.
The second resource I’m adding comes from an article by Andrew Wheelock published in this month’s Leading & Learning with Technology magazine: Immerse Your Students in History. When I saw a section of the article entitled Creating a Virtual Anne Frank World, my initial reaction was disbelief, assuming that technology in this case would trivialize Anne Frank’s story. I’m glad curiosity led me to visit the Holocaust Project wiki. I encourage you to explore the site. The home page features two embedded videos. The first video, Understanding the Holocaust, makes a compelling point between helping our students “learn” about the Holocaust vs. “understand” the Holocaust. The second video introduces the virtual world. I am impressed.
Here’s a link to the Understanding the Holocaust Project newsletter, with more information about the project, including a listing of the activities, each one aligned to Common Core State Standards. Students can take a virtual walk through the streets of Amsterdam, enter the warehouse where Anne and her family hid for nearly two years, and “walk from room to room and explore by clicking on objects to reveal literature connections, diary notes, and PBS Masterpiece Theater resources from the recent filming of The Diary of Anne Frank.”
If you use this virtual world to bring your students into Anne Frank’s world, I would love to hear if the technology deepened their understanding of the Holocaust – or if it acted as a distractor.
My feet have still not quite hit the ground since my Pilgrimage to Manzanar trip and my bike ‘n barge trip across Holland with Hannie Voyles. But already I know that two of my summer projects will be to create multimedia teacher guides for two books I know middle – high school language arts/English/history teachers will want to add to their teaching toolkits:
Kiyo’s Story – One of my favorite take-aways from the Manzanar trip was an autographed copy of Kiyo Sato’s memoir of growing up in California – before, during, and after WWII.
“It is a magnificent memoir, fully worthy of being compared to Farewell to Manzanar. I cannot praise its pointillist realism, its Zen-like austerity, highly enough. Exquisite.”—Kevin Starr, author of California: A History
I have to take issue with Kevin Starr’s review. Kiyo’s Story provides something missing from Farewell to Manzanar: a window into the Issei (first generation of Japanese immigrants) experience in California and also makes visible the power of one’s culture to help overcome extreme challenges and attacks on human dignity. Kiyo also includes samples of upstanders (people who choose to take positive action in the face of injustice in society or in situations where individuals need assistance), such as Edward Kelly Elementary School teacher Miss Cox.
I had the good fortune to interview Kiyo five years ago as part of my Time of Remembrance Oral Histories Project. Kiyo’s interview will make a wonderful accompanying piece to her book – and upcoming multimedia teachers guide. Since the release of Kiyo’s Story, there are also a number of online inteviews with her, such as the 2009 radio interview with KQED’s Dave Iverson and News & Review piece by Becky Grunewald, that I will be weaving into the multimedia teachers guide.
Storming the Tulips – I first met Hannie two years ago, when my friend Pam Bodnar, a middle school counselor in Chico, shared with me a remarkable presentation Hannie did with Pam’s 8th grade students on how she survived the Nazi occupation of Holland. Hannie was a schoolmate of Anne Frank’s, a few years younger than Anne but also a student for a while at the same Montessori School. Whereas Anne’s story is one of hiding in the Annex, Hannie’s is from a street view. Hannie and her sister were the eyes and ears for their Jewish mother, who, like Anne, had to remain hidden in their apartment, which was opposite Nazi headquarters.
Hannie’s compelling story is one of 20 first-hand accounts of survival and resilience included in Storming the Tulips:
Storming the Tulips is an intimate encounter with history, as told by twenty former students of the 1st Montessori School in Amsterdam. They were children-contemporaries of Anne Frank -and this book is a companion to The Diary of Anne Frank. While Anne’s story describes her sequestered life in the Annex, Storming the Tulips reveals what children on the outside endured-in the streets, in hiding, and in the concentration camps. Their friends disappeared. Their parents sent them away. They were herded on trains and sent to death camps. They joined the Nazi youth. They hid Jews. They lost their families. They picked the pockets of the dead. They escaped. They dodged bullets. They lived in terror. They starved. They froze. They ate tulip bulbs. They witnessed a massacre. They collected shrapnel. And finally, they welcomed the Liberation. Some lost their families, most lost their homes, but they all lost their innocence as they fought to survive in a world gone mad-the only world that they knew.”
Last month I traveled to Chico, along with Doug Niva, the very talented videographer who has played such a key role in the Time of Remembrance project, to do an interview with Hannie. We will soon have clips from the interview online, both as stand-alone questions in 11th grade US History teacher Erin Goldman’s Beyond Anne Frank lesson, and as part of the soon-to-be-developed multimedia literature guide for Storming the Tulips.
So it may be a while yet before my feet finally touch the ground.
As we approach the 2011 Holocaust Days of Remembrance (May 1-8), I have a few more resources to add to last year’s Remembering Anne Frank post:
I was introduced to the Holocaust in 7th grade. Like many middle school students, I was given a window into the horrors of the Nazi “round ups” through reading the Diary of Anne Frank.
My long-time interest in Anne’s story was rekindled last weekend when I had the honor of meeting with Hannie Voyles, a schoolmate of Anne Frank’s. Hannie’s story of survival under five years of Nazi occupation of the Netherlands is every bit as compelling as Anne’s story. It is my hope that Hannie will soon share her story beyond her community (Chico, California). I just finished watching footage from a recent interview she did with a group of 8th grader peer mediators from Chico’s Marsh Jr. High. While Anne Frank was hidden away, Hannie and her sister were out on the streets everyday in the eye of the storm.*
Teaching the Holocaust requires having age-appropriate resources. I was initially taken aback when I discovered that the Open Court Reading Program includes a piece about Anne Frank in the 4th grade anthology. However, in working with several 4th grade classes (in my role as coordinator of my district’s EETT grant), I have come to see that elementary students are quite capable of delving into complex social issues that span communities and generations. If the materials and the manner in which the topic is introduced are age-appropriate, 4th graders are ready for and capable of joining in meaningful shared conversations on tough topics.
Through my participation in the National Writing Project’s Holocaust Educator’s Network, I’ve accumulated a variety of resources for teaching about genocide in general and the Holocaust in particular. After meeting with Hannie Voyles, I am now seeking resources that best tell the impact of Nazi occupation on school-age children and their families and that provide insights into the topic of resiliency of the human spirit. Anne Frank’s story will be my starting point.
Here’s what I have so far:
* May 2011 Update:
If you have Anne Frank resources to add to the list, I hope you will post a comment. My goal is, over the summer, to develop a unit on name calling that could be used across grade levels and would help students make connections and comparisons between what was “then and there” (the Holocaust) to what is “here and now.”
My two weeks at the Holocaust Seminar were amazing, just amazing. Because I need some time to reflect on the depth and breadth of what I learned, I’m planning to share the experience and resources a bit at a time, starting with the way I started most of my days: walking through Central Park’s Strawberry Fields.
I’m heading out tonight for New York City , where I will spend the next two weeks at Columbia University participating in the 2008 Memorial Library Summer Seminar on Holocaust Education. I am already anticipating that these 14 days will be a life-changing experience. I realize that across time there are common threads between the events that trigger discrimination, exclusion, and the forced removal of any group of people. Going into the event, it is my plan to develop a lesson around Ishmael Beah’s compelling story (which I first discovered at a local Starbucks) A Long Way Gone – Memoirs of a Boy Soldier.
There are many similarities between the Holocaust and the genocides of the 21st century, but there is, I believe, one significant difference: the absence of the Internet during WWII. In presenting the dark side of history to students, today educators can also provide opportunities and venues for students to take social action. Eighth-grade history teacher George Mayo’s Many Voices of Darfur project and Canadian teachers Jim Carleton and Mali Bickely’s collaborative projects (NECC 2008 keynote speakers) are excellent examples of empowering students to make a difference. Celebrities such as Robert DeNiro are tapping into the power of the Internet, especially video, with powerful pieces such as Armed and Innocent, which includes an interview with Ishmael Beah that I will be including in my lesson.
I realize that the Holocaust Seminar will be an intellectual and emotional roller coaster ride and that, for many reasons, including the challenges inherent with writing about the unthinkable and unspeakable, not all sessions will be “bloggable” – it is the lessons learned – and to be learned, along with the resources, that I hope to share out with other teachers and their students.
Memorial Library image from: http://tinyurl.com/6xwvaj
I’m still reflecting on yesterday’s article in the Sac Bee about French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s controversial mandate that all 5th graders “adopt the memory of one of the 11,000 Jewish children in France killed in the Holocaust, learning about the selected child’s background and fate.” And following that article, today’s article on UC Davis students attending a conference to learn what they can do to stop the genocide in Darfur. These two projects involve students from ages 10 through adult. Is there a minimum age level for teaching about genocide?
The above articles are coming on the heels of a recent Teachers Teaching Teachers Skypecast during which someone in the chat room (Mr. Mayo?) introduced the Many Voices of Darfur blogging and wiki project, an invitation for students to make their voices heard to a worldwide audience.
Apparently, students as young as 3rd grade will be participating in this project and posting to the blog for 48 hours on March 4.
In my school district, I think many 5th grade teachers introduce the word “genocide” in 5th grade, as they delve into the unit on Columbus’s arrival to the “New World,” but without the availability of primary source documents such as those that tell of the last hours of individual Jewish children removed from Paris to extermination camps.
Last week I visited an elementary school library that happened to have on display 4th graders’ California Mission projects, including models (parent-done, I’m pretty sure) and some tri-fold displays (which also looked parent done). Kind of took me back to my 4th grade days. However, I’m still thinking about the tri-fold, I believe on Mission San Juan Capistrano, that included the statement “the local Indians were friendly and happy to work.” Maybe 4th graders are too young to learn about the government sanctioned genocide of California Indians, but I suspect that 4th graders at this school will end their year without a clue that “missionization” was NOT mutually beneficial.
But again I ask, at what age do we introduce students to “genocide”?