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LESSON

One Survivor Remembers: Intolerance Today

This lesson is an excerpt from the accompanying teacher's guide to One Survivor Remembers, a teaching kit built around the incredible life story of Holocaust survivor Gerda Weissmann Klein.
Grade Level

Objectives

Students will:

  • Understand the ongoing dangers of bigotry, hatred and extremism
  • Gather and use information for research purposes
  • Contribute meaningfully to the work of small groups
  • Work collaboratively in groups
  • Use appropriate verbal and nonverbal techniques to present information to others
Essential Questions
  • Is conflict inevitable?
  • Is it true that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it?
  • How is the world I experience related to the events of the past?
  • How might the world change, for the better, in the future?
Materials

Handouts of research topics for students:

Framework

Unfortunately, the kinds of issues that led to Gerda’s experiences as a youth are still with us. Our world today remains riddled with divisions and hatred, from hate crimes to genocide. Some even deny that the Holocaust, the genocide that claimed the lives of 67 members of Gerda’s family (and nearly her own), ever happened. These realities provide incredible fodder for research projects to help students understand the ongoing dangers of bigotry, hatred and extremism.

Such large research projects are best done in collaborative groups, bolstered by individual assignments and tasks. Time frames may vary, based on available hours in any given class, as will the ultimate “product,” for example essays, oral reports and multi-media presentations.

We have provided research-guide sheets for four focus areas (Holocaust denial, genocide, hate groups and hate crime), with context and suggested resources. Still, students should be encouraged to cull additional materials, time and resources allowing.

 

Suggested Procedures

We suggest using jigsaw grouping for these research projects. Jigsaw is a cooperative learning strategy that creates interdependence and a leveling of status as students learn to rely on each other to accomplish their goals. Each team becomes an “expert” on one of the research topics by working with the other members of their team. Upon returning to the whole group, each team in turn teaches their information. The process for jigsaw grouping follows:

  • Assign Topics – The content has been divided into four large topics that address intolerance and ways it manifests itself. Divide the class evenly. Keep groups to 3 or 4 students. It’s perfectly fine to assign the same topic to several groups as each group will discover different information.
  • Experts Consult – Students research and become experts on their topic, making certain each group member understands the information. A variety of strategies for checking understanding can be used, including work sheets, cross group interviews, dialogue and so on.
  • Experts Create and Practice a Teaching Plan – Expert groups design and practice a plan for teaching their expertise to the class. Encourage students to be creative and to use technology. Students, for example, may choose to present their information via posters or PowerPoint presentations.
  • Experts Share – Experts take turns sharing their individual topic expertise with class members on other teams.

Adapted from: Cooperative Learning by Spencer Kagan, Ph.D., Resources for Teachers, Inc., 1992.

 

Extension Activity

As a culminating activity, invite students to synthesize what they’ve learned through art. Give students wide latitude to employ visual arts, performing arts, music, painting, poetry, collage, or any other means that they feel best reflects the message they want or need to send to others. Purposefully create opportunities for students’ representations to be shared with members of the school community—and beyond. Collect and catalogue community responses, both so students will know the impact of their message(s), and for assessment purposes.