Holocaust Prior/Shared Knowledge Activity

During my student teaching practicum I had to teach a unit on the Holocaust. Holocaust units in English class are pretty standard in American schools. Some schools teach it in middle school, others in high school. Mostly it’s reading Night or The Diary of Anne Frank and some basic Holocaust facts. (I’ve been in several different schools and have never seen one that required an American slavery unit or a unit based around the treatment of American Indians by the US Government.)

My students were eighth-graders. I did this activity with the Advanced students (I had four “regular” classes and one “advanced” class.). I needed a way to introduce the Holocaust without it being me lecturing or showing a powerpoint presentation. I didn’t want the students to be bored and disengaged with what we were doing. I thought having them up and moving around and interacting with each other while they looked at each poster would make the activity a little more fun while also being educational.

The activity entailed me attaching Holocaust related prompts to giant poster sheets, then spreading the sheets around the room. Students were given a significant block of time, 30 minutes I believe, to walk around the room, look at the prompts, then write what they know about each prompt on the poster sheet. I wanted them to access the “prior” knowledge they had on the prompt. It was a manner of showing them what they already knew and bringing it to the front of their memory as they would use that information during the unit.

On the poster below I put a picture of Adolph Hitler. These are the responses.

Leave a Reply