Echoes and Reflections Today

Welcome to Echoes and Reflections Today, a quarterly e-newsletter to keep educators informed about new materials and new ideas for use with Echoes and Reflections.

As states across the country implement the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), many educators are being called to show how their Holocaust curricula can meet the CCSS mandates. Educators report that in some districts, their Holocaust programs are at risk, while in other districts, more Holocaust and genocide studies courses are being welcomed.

What's the Difference?

The difference is the extent to which school leaders understand how CCSS and Holocaust education can work together to give students and teachers a rich and challenging educational experience. The CCSS shift presents secondary educators with a valuable opportunity to highlight how Echoes and Reflections can be a perfect match for their schools' CCSS curricula. Below are just a few examples of how Echoes and Reflections materials help to address Common Core State Standards in English/Language Arts and History/Social Studies classrooms.

Learning about the Kristallnacht Pogrom in the History Classroom

Lesson 1: Studying the Holocaust provides multiple opportunities for students to demonstrate their mastery of reading skills while learning about the Kristallnacht Pogrom. As students analyze and compare and contrast a variety of primary source documents, including a telegram, letter, journal entry, and photographs, they must determine point of view, central idea/s of a text, and the meaning of words and phrases in context. Students also refer to their history textbook for additional information about the event.

Kurt Messerschmidt shares his experiences during the events of November 9/10, 1938 through the medium of visual history testimony, allowing students to corroborate informational text material with an eyewitness account. Such activities require students to use both primary and secondary sources to gather and analyze information - directly reflecting the Common Core Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies.

Material available in Lesson 1: Studying the Holocaust andLesson 3: Nazi Germany along with additional testimonies available in IWitness can also be extended to address Writing Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies. For example, students can conduct research about theKristallnact Pogrom using a variety of resources and multiple media and write an explanatory text that compares and contrasts how different sources present information in different ways. Students can then make their own case for the best type of sources to use in their research of historical events.

Learning about the Lodz Ghetto in the English/Language Arts Classroom

Lesson 4: The Ghettos  is ideal for addressing CCSS reading and speaking and listening skills that emphasize the need for students to develop, sustain, and communicate increasingly complex information. Close reading of informational texts about the ghettos, in general, and the Lodz ghetto, in particular; analysis and discussion of poems and diaries writte n by youth, including the Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak, who were forced to live in the Lodz ghetto; along with photographs, and other artifacts help students develop a multi-layered understanding of the role of the ghettos in Nazi-occupied Europe.

Exploring these assets and hearing the testimony of Ellis LewinEva Safferman, and George Shainfarber, to name only a few of the survivors that students meet in this lesson, provides an opportunity for students to generate meaningful questions to propel their own research interests forward.

Upon completion of the lesson, teachers can use the study of the Lodz ghetto to address a range of CCSS writing standards. Students can select a different ghetto to research or identify a self-generated question related to the Lodz ghetto or the ghettos in general that they have interest in answering. Students should be encouraged to utilize multiple media, including source documents and photographs, and search and watch survivor testimony available in IWitness to produce a clear piece of writing that examines and conveys understanding of their topic. For schools using PARCC assessments, the draft Expanded Scoring Rubric for Analytic and Narrative Writing (Grades 6-11) can be a useful starting point for Holocaust educators developing their own assessments.

View Sample Lesson and Testimony

I am so happy to have been given so many more primary source documents to share with my colleagues and students. This workshop has allowed me to branch out and broaden my teaching of the Holocaust.

Simsbury, Connecticut middle school teacher

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