Day 1: Introduce topic and project; begin research
In this first class, students participate in general brainstorming about ways people can resist those in authority. List their ideas on the board. Students typically focus on physical resistance.
Read the poem “There Were Those” by Susan Dambroff (found in Images of the Holocaust) to the class. This poem explores some of the ways individuals resisted the Nazis. The focus of this poem is not physical resistance. The poem opens up the idea of different forms of resistance.
Discuss with the class:
- Obstacles to resistance
- Different types of resistance (spiritual, physical)
- Where resistance took place (ghettos and camps, Nazi Germany)
- How different people resisted the Nazis
(The Museum's publication Resistance in the Holocaust is very helpful.)
Track the ideas on the board.
At this point, I introduce the assignment to students. I tell the class they will explore a topic related to resistance during the Holocaust and individuals who resisted. They will then have the opportunity to present their findings to the class. Divide the class into groups of two to four students (depending on class size). Hand out the project instructions (see Student Assignment Sheet Handout). Let them choose (or assign for them) topics, and let them spend the rest of class working on the project with classroom resources. The class could also spend the rest of the period in the library and/or use computers to access information. Students are encouraged to work outside class.
Day 2: Continue research
Ask students for some feedback on what they have found so far. The teacher may need to guide students to information and resources, so it is important for the teacher to be familiar with the topic and available books and Internet resources.
The students need to print out or photocopy photographs, maps, and other documents (letters, diaries, memoirs, poems, songs) to help them with their presentation.
Remind students to keep track of the information so they can complete an annotated bibliography.
Students need to decide before they leave class who is going to say what during the presentation, and what the visual is going to be. For homework, each student should complete the part for which he or she is responsible.
Day 3: Student presentation, concluding discussion, and self-evaluation
Before the students begin their presentations, I go over the rubric I will be using to evaluate them (see Teacher’s Rubric for Grading Presentations). I also tell them they will be evaluating themselves after the presentations (see Student Self-Evaluation Sheet).
Students make their presentations. Visuals may be posted in the room on a chalkboard, bulletin board, or wall.
During the presentations, the teacher uses the evaluation rubric to assess the students’ work.
For the concluding discussion the students need to think about their presentation as well as their classmates’ presentations for a minute or two. Students should reflect upon what they thought about resistance at the beginning of the lesson and what they now know. For example, some students probably believed that most Jews “went like sheep to slaughter” and that there was little anyone could do against the Nazis.
Discuss (including, but not limited to):
- The importance of the individual and how an individual can make a difference
- The different forms of resistance
- Defining success in regard to individual resistance to the Nazis
- The importance of standing up for what is right, even if you know your chances of winning are slight (for teachers of To Kill a Mockingbird—make a connection—Atticus says “Simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try to win.”)
After assessing the students' understanding of the project through the discussion, have them consider the relatively small number of people who resisted: What would have happened if more people had done something? What is an individual’s responsibility to society? To his/her family? Personal beliefs? Community? Religious group? Nation? To doing what is right even if there are terrific risks and terrible consequences? What can the students do in their own lives to make a difference? Is there anything they believe is worth dying for?
This discussion is done informally.
The discussion should conclude with a newfound understanding and respect for the few individuals who risked so much during these horrific years.
For homework, students should fill out their self- and group evaluations to turn in to the teacher the next day.
The teacher begins to fill out the rubric for the presentations while the students are presenting and completes them after looking through the annotated bibliographies and the student self-evaluations.