FAQ about Classroom Use
Below are some of the questions that educators have asked about using Echoes and Reflections in the classroom. If you have a question that has not been answered here, email it to us at email@example.com. We will do our best to answer it and post some of the most frequently asked questions and answers for other teachers to see.
- I have limited time to teach the Holocaust; will I still be able to use this resource effectively?I have limited time to teach the Holocaust; will I still be able to use this resource effectively? ( Hide This Answer )
Yes. While we certainly recommend a comprehensive course of study on events leading up to the Holocaust, the Holocaust itself, and its aftermath, we know that this is not always possible. The modular design and wealth of material in Echoes and Reflections gives teachers materials that they can use with students even when time is a factor. A carefully developed introductory unit on the Holocaust, for example, is likely to encourage students to engage in further study on their own. We particularly recommend introducing students to the Student/Teacher Resource Center, a comprehensive online collection of photos, diary entries, government documents, artifacts, essays, etc., organized by topic and aligned with the curriculum. This resource will allow interested students to engage in meaningful independent study.
- If I have only a limited amount of time to devote to Holocaust education in my classroom, what topics and lessons or parts of lessons do you recommend I cover?If I have only a limited amount of time to devote to Holocaust education in my classroom, what topics and lessons or parts of lessons do you recommend I cover? ( Hide This Answer )
Every classroom and every group of students is unique, so there is not one answer that will fit every situation. Additionally, choosing one topic or lesson above others may inadvertently give the impression that anything not included on the list below is not important, which is certainly not the case. We recommend that a course of study—even an abbreviated course of study—on the Holocaust include as many of the components listed below as possible. Individual teachers should factor in their students’ age, maturation, prior knowledge of the Holocaust, and how much time they have available when deciding which materials in Echoes and Reflections to use.
- Definition of Holocaust and genocide (Lesson One)
- Importance of primary and secondary source materials, including visual history testimony, when studying the Holocaust (Lesson One)
- Origins of antisemitism (Lesson Two)
- Pre-war Jewish life in Germany (Lesson Two)
- Antisemitism in Nazi ideology (Lesson Two)
- Nazi propaganda (Lesson Two)
- Breakdown of democracy in Germany between 1933–1939 (Lesson Three)
- Anti-Jewish policy (Lesson Three)
- Purpose of the ghettos (Lesson Four)
- Life in the ghettos (Lesson Four)
- Mobile killing squads and extermination camps (Lesson Five)
- What life was like for people in extermination camps (Lesson Five)
- Forms of Jewish resistance (Lesson Six)
- Political, legal, social, and emotional status of Jewish survivors (Lesson Eight)
- Role of liberators (Lesson Eight)
- Role of collaborators and bystanders (Lesson Nine)
- Can I use Echoes and Reflections with my middle school students?Can I use Echoes and Reflections with my middle school students? ( Hide This Answer )
Echoes and Reflections was written with high school students in mind; however, middle school teachers report that they are successfully incorporating the curriculum into their existing teaching about the Holocaust. Having students read the student handouts together in class as opposed to independent reading assignments, examining fewer primary source documents within a lesson, and devoting more time to vocabulary are some of the ways that teachers are modifying the curriculum’s procedures to meet the needs of younger students.
- I am not a history teacher; is there still material in Echoes and Reflections that I can use with my students?I am not a history teacher; is there still material in Echoes and Reflections that I can use with my students? ( Hide This Answer )
Yes. In addition to social studies, history, and Holocaust studies, Echoes and Reflections includes material appropriate for English, social science, and fine arts classes. There are poems, diary entries, a short story, and a chapter from Night, along with close to forty journal topics for students to use as a springboard for reflection on what they are learning and how the material has meaning in their own lives. Also included is artwork for students to examine and analyze. Social science teachers will find the photographs, interviews with perpetrators and collaborators, and discussions about responsibility, guilt, altruism, and the question “How was the Holocaust humanly possible?” of particular interest.
- Does this curriculum lend itself to interdisciplinary team teaching?Does this curriculum lend itself to interdisciplinary team teaching? ( Hide This Answer )
Absolutely. A study of the Holocaust as a human story extends beyond the boundaries of the historical discipline and mandates that other fields of knowledge, for example, literature, art, and philosophy, be incorporated. Lesson 4: The Ghettos, serves as an excellent example of the interdisciplinary nature of Echoes and Reflections. In addition to maps, photographs, and student handouts that provide the historical background on the ghettos established throughout Nazi Europe, there are primary source documents recovered from the Lodz ghetto: poems, diary entries, and photographs, making the lesson a natural for a history and English teacher to team teach. Teachers will find that every lesson in the curriculum is conducive to team teaching.
- I want my students to connect the lessons of the Holocaust to their own lives; does this curriculum help me accomplish that goal?I want my students to connect the lessons of the Holocaust to their own lives; does this curriculum help me accomplish that goal? ( Hide This Answer )
Yes. Each lesson includes a specific objective to help students examine the harmful effects of stereotyping, prejudice, and racism in their own lives and to consider the role and responsibility of individuals and communities to interrupt such attitudes and behaviors whenever and wherever they occur. Students are provided opportunities to consider the dangers of remaining silent in the face of injustice; to examine specific acts of hate and how communities have responded; to learn about contemporary antisemitism, including Holocaust denial; and to examine critically modern-day genocides (e.g., Darfur) in a world that vowed “never again” following the Holocaust.
- Do you suggest using the visual history testimony that accompanies this resource without the lessons or the lessons without the visual history testimony?Do you suggest using the visual history testimony that accompanies this resource without the lessons or the lessons without the visual history testimony? ( Hide This Answer )
No. Using the visual history testimony in Echoes and Reflections without the accompanying lessons runs the risk of leaving students with an inaccurate or incomplete understanding of events. Each clip of testimony in Echoes and Reflections was deliberately selected to deepen students’ understanding of a particular topic and should only be presented to students in context. Visual history testimony, when combined with a standard written curriculum and provided with the proper historical context, is an unparalleled primary source material for teachers. Video testimonies also give students an important and rare opportunity to connect with a survivor or other witness of the Holocaust. Students can develop an immediate and intimate bond with the person on the screen and become personally and emotionally affected.
Learn more about the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education and using visual history testimony in the classroom.
- Teachers in my district are expected to teach specific units on the Holocaust—usually The Diary of Anne Frank and Elie Wiesel’s Night. Is there material in Echoes and Reflections to help teach these units?Teachers in my district are expected to teach specific units on the Holocaust—usually The Diary of Anne Frank and Elie Wiesel’s Night. Is there material in Echoes and Reflections to help teach these units? ( Hide This Answer )
Yes. Lesson Seven: Rescuers and Non-Jewish Resistance includes a speech by Miep Gies, one of the people who helped to hide Anne Frank and her family. This speech, along with visual history testimony by other individuals who helped rescue Jews during the Holocaust, provides an opportunity for students to analyze the motivations of non-Jewish rescuers as well as the moral choices that they made and the risks involved.
A complete chapter from Elie Wiesel’s Night with accompanying discussion questions appears in Lesson Five: The “Final Solution.” In addition, there are visual history testimonies from survivors of Auschwitz in both Lesson Five and Lesson Six: Jewish Resistance. Later, in Chapter Eight: Survivors and Liberators, a bunkmate of Elie Wiesel’s at Auschwitz recounts a conversation that he and Elie had upon learning that they were free. This additional material will encourage students to recognize that the Holocaust is first and foremost a human story.
- Does Echoes and Reflections include examples of simulation activities that I can use with my students?Does Echoes and Reflections include examples of simulation activities that I can use with my students? ( Hide This Answer )
No. Although empathetic activities such as simulations can be very effective techniques for interesting young people in history by highlighting human experience and responses to events in the past, we strongly caution teachers against their use when approaching a subject as sensitive and complex as the Holocaust. Some young people might over-identify with the events of the Holocaust, be excited by the power of the Nazis, or demonstrate a morbid fascination for the suffering of the victims. It may be useful, however, for students to take on the role of someone from a neutral country, responding to events: a journalist writing an article for a newspaper about the persecution of Jews; a concerned citizen writing to his or her political representative; or a campaigner trying to mobilize public opinion. Such activities can be good motivators and can also highlight a possible course of action that students can take about events that concern them in the world today.
- Are workshops available for teachers to learn more about using Echoes and Reflections?Are workshops available for teachers to learn more about using Echoes and Reflections? ( Hide This Answer )
Yes. Professional development workshops on Echoes and Reflections are taking place across the United States. Workshops are between three and six hours long and are always facilitated by ADL, the USC Shoah Foundation Institute, and/or Yad Vashem professionals. These workshops provide an opportunity for educators to become familiar with the organization and content of the curriculum, including the online components; learn how to use visual history testimony effectively with students; and to examine the pedagogy that underlies effective teaching of the Holocaust. Continuing education credits are often available.
To learn more about a workshop in your state or region or if you are interested in planning a program for your school or district, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about training in your area.