Echoes and Reflections in the Classroom
In English, history, civics, fine arts, and social science classes; Holocaust and religious studies courses; character education units and beyond, teachers across the United States are finding that this multimedia curriculum is invigorating their teaching.
Read the first-person accounts of four teachers from different parts of the country and who teach different grade levels and disciplines who are successfully integrating Echoes and Reflections into their curriculum.
Jennifer S. (Omaha, Nebraska English Teacher)
In my twelfth-grade British and World Literature class, I teach a unit on the lessons of the Holocaust. The focus of this unit is literature and poetry. I find that the lessons in Echoes and Reflections address most of the questions the students have about the Holocaust, compliment lessons I have created, and comply with the state standards that I am required to follow. Although my students would benefit from all of the lessons in the curriculum, due to time constraints, I only use portions of seven of the units. The structure of the units makes it easy to teach one day or several on each topic. Using Echoes and Reflections to address students’ questions about the Holocaust also allows them to view survivor testimony, the most important of all primary sources. My students engage in the lessons from Echoes and Reflections because they establish a human connection while watching the testimonies, and they appreciate the variety of activities that help them comprehend the intellectually challenging material.
Maureen M. (Boca Raton, Florida Middle School Teacher)
I use Echoes and Reflections in my middle school classroom in a number of ways. I begin with Chapter 4: The Ghettos, as I am involved with the International Book Sharing Project. The book that is read is Island on Bird Street by Uri Orlev. This is a story bout an eleven-year-old boy who survives in a fictional ghetto that resembles the Warsaw ghetto—where the author himself lived. This goes along beautifully with Chapter 4.
I follow the directions in Chapter 4 almost word for word. I use The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak. I make handouts from the curriculum and we read together. I also add a book called There Are No Children Here. This book speaks about living in the “other America.” With my 7th graders we study civics so this fits right in to what we are doing. The reporter who wrote the book finds the boys playing in an old railroad boxcar. At this point we discuss irony and what it means. They automatically connect the railroad car to what they have learned about the Holocaust in the past.
I also show the Echoes and Reflections testimony on the ghetto. I conclude my introduction to Chapter 4 with the poems that are in the curriculum. The students then either react with journal entries or drawings. They then share with the class. At this point, I show the film I Am Still Here that was produced by MTV several years ago. As a follow up, I show the clip of Roman Kent in Lesson 6: Jewish Resistance discussing spiritual resistance because I feel that it is important. This year we will read his book, My Dog Lala, and I will also try to use the poster set from the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous.
There are other ways in which I use the curriculum, but this has been the most successful. In the future, I plan to use some of the other chapters in depth.
Lee P. (Atlanta, Georgia History Teacher)
A little over a year ago I was introduced to the Echoes and Reflections curriculum. I have been amazed how often I return to the binder to pull lessons. It is not just a resource for the World History classroom, as many would think. I have used it to teach about racism in society and how easy it is for it to sometimes sneak into society. As an Advanced Placement U.S. History teacher I find that the curriculum lends itself to a multitude of materials covered throughout the year. When teaching about discrimination of immigrants in American history the unit on antisemitism is an amazing tool. I have also allowed English teachers to use the curriculum when teaching various novels that deal with discrimination. I find myself referring to it more than I have ever referred to any other resource. I highly recommend this to anyone in the classroom.
Mara H. (Detroit, Michigan Sociology Teacher)
Echoes and Reflections had a significantly positive effect on students in my Sociology of Genocide elective course (11th and 12th grade students). I used the curriculum, especially those lessons on antisemitism, the “Final Solution,” and resistance, in a ten-week unit on the Holocaust following the study of other genocides.
Through real-life stories, survivors and liberators brought my students closer to truly understanding what occurred throughout the Holocaust in a forum that is enriching and genuine. The written curriculum brought forth substantive discussion among students of multiple academic levels through the use of multiple intelligences and created an environment for differentiated instruction.
Our work was validated when we took a field trip to the Holocaust Museum in Michigan and students saw objects we had learned about in class. One of my students even paused to discuss some of the survivors with a visitor from the community (we had heard testimony from these survivors in class and my student was relaying the stories to this person). It is apparent that as survivors age, their stories will live on through the students that are able to experience the Echoes and Reflections curriculum.
I have also used segments of the curriculum in other social studies classes, with 9th grade students. It was equally effective with the lower grade level as with older students. Students found the debate enriching and the aspects covered in this curriculum thoughtful.
Tell us how you are using Echoes and Reflections in the classroom! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.