Pre–World War II European Jewish Life Photo Project
While watching the students research the prewar Jewish life photos, I found it interesting that they seemed to sift through several pages of pictures—they did not take the very first photo that fit the criteria of the assignment. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised at the great care students took and the scrutiny with which the students found “just the right one,” for whatever reason. As students are researching, keep in mind that they are not necessarily aware they will be looking through their own family photos at home. The teacher has the discretion to let students know ahead of time or not. I find that they will choose photos with which they identify anyway.
It is interesting to see in the student samples of work that all three chose photos which they say reminded them of their families. They focus on the smiles, the happiness, and the daily activities the photos depict. In finding their own photos to parallel, the students discuss noticing how life is no different now than it was then in terms of activities, specifically playing and gardening, and that this is evident as they looked through all of their family pictures, not just the ones they chose; apparently all of the photos looked through in researching stay in their minds.
In reflecting upon the student work here, it is obvious to the students what the goal of the assignment is as they work, and they already know what they will find: Jews were normal people who had normal lives in normal communities. Students also easily see the relevance of their own lives in comparison to that of the Jews, especially in terms of individuality. This is evident in their explanation of their parallel family photo.