Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Comics in Education

When I first began teaching in 2000, I never would have thought of including comic books or graphic novels in the curriculum. I guess it has something to do with the way in which I was taught in my formative/college years. We were taught that the "classics" were to be taught such as William Shakespeare--not comics. A part of this philosophy sprouts from the notion that if something is fun, or entertaining, it can't be looked at as educational. I believe in the past couple years, I have seen more and more teachers exploring other non-traditional methods that I believe have benefited the students in today's schools. Although, movies, theatre, and film are more accepted in the classroom, many studies out there today suggest that video games, comic books, and popular culture can be added to our existing curriculum with positive results.

Just the other day, I was listening to NPR where they were discussing this notion that boys and girls learn and think differently. Girls do well in the traditional classroom setting and tend to excel at English and may struggle in Math. Boys, on the other hand, seem to excel in Math, and may struggle more with reading. Furthermore, they stated that boys are spatial learners and that if they are given the option to draw out their ideas before writing, they would do much better in comprehending and retaining the material. For students, not just boys, who struggle with reading, I think graphic novels and comics provide a great creative and educational outlet. I know for myself, I struggle with maps for instance. Now if I have someone drive me to my destination ahead of time, instead of just handing me a map, I have a greater chance of getting there. Even in learning a second language, the visual aide plays an important role. Many teachers and students rely on pictures with the language to aid in comprehension. I believe that the same concept is being displayed here.

While online, I came across a website titled Comics in Education, by Gene Yeng. He has been researching and studying comics from the 1930's until present day. Educators in the 1930's and 1940's lined up on both sides of the debate. Many, like Child Study Association of America director, Sidonie Gruenberg, felt that this was a great media to teach literacy where others felt it to be a stumbling block in the way of literacy. The same problem that we have seen with other forms of media trying to cross over into the educational world are evident in the comics evolution as well. Again, the question being is this educational?

My daughter is eight years old and was reading at the age of three. She has also become interested in the graphic novel genre, specifically the Bone books and Amelia the Super Hero books. I asked her what appeals to her about these books and she stated that she liked the illustrations and that they looked "cool." Now when I test her on her reading comprehension when she is reading these books versus "classic" literature, she is interpreting the same elements of literature with both. With that said, we as educators must ask ourselves, are comics bad for education or are we really fighting educational change?

Monday, April 14, 2008

War--What is it good for?

War--what is it good for? This idea has been around since the beginning of time and I am sure has been queried by leaders, presidents, politicians, soldiers, teachers, physicians, students, and all people. This question has always remained a constant. Our views on what we perceive to be the right answer have also been hotly debated since the beginning of time as well.

I think in a lot of ways living during wartime can be difficult even if you do not have relatives over fighting the war directly. It seems that in the 70's with the Vietnam War, war movies were not produced until after the war was over. You look at the wars we fight today and it seems to be everywhere.

I remember when we first went in and started invading Iraq and how much news coverage was out there. You could turn on the television at any given time and see a light display of bombs and coverage no matter what time it was. I remember when I finally realized what kind of a toll that kind of media coverage can have on a person when I noticed that my husband could only watch the war coverage and how all consuming it had become. I remember that he had trouble sleeping as well. When I see that a grown man has trouble processing this information, it really makes me wonder how our children are affected? Although I believe that it is a step in the right direction to keep the public aware of what is going on, we really need to pay attention to how the media is being slanted. What is "real" news and what is "shock and awe? What coverage is "real issues" or misguided fluff.

We are bombarded with these visuals. So are our children. War coverage is on the news, debated within political campaigns, and is evident on reality television shows, video games, and movies. You can also go on the internet and find many sites where people are discussing their views and their beliefs on the subject. It seems that it is hard in times of war to escape the reality of what is going on and/or what media you can believe. We are consumed with media that tells us to believe in one way and that what they are saying is the truth, but whose truth is it? In some ways I think the fact that people are talking about it at all is a good thing. Good thing if you have been taught the tools to analyze what is being thrown at you with a critical eye.

That is why I think that discussing these issues in the classroom is so important. With so many mediums to choose from, in music, blogs, movies, and news coverage, it is almost wrong to not tap into these resources. Teaching students to look at advertising, war propaganda, war issues through a critical lens will give them the tools they need to separate the "fake" issues from the "real issues" and in the process hopefully create well-educated and informed viewers on both sides of the war debate. I know when I teach my Holocaust unit, we spend a lot of time looking at wars throughout the decades and comparing/contrasting the issues at hand. It seems to me that the popular culture of each decade is a cultural historian taking note on what is good and bad about a society at the given time. Just because you are a nation at war does not exemt artists from critique. If anything it gives them relentless motivation to let their voices, their story be told. More times then not, the same themes are still ever present in each decade. Just tends to be different conclusions.

This then brings me to the same thought that I had at the beginning of this dialogue. War--what is it good for? I wouldn't say absolutely nothing. War is a good representation of where our nation is at a given period in history, war is a medium for both producers, artists, musicians, teachers to voice their opinions and document historical milestones, war is a way for people to be heard, to become political, or even to stand and do nothing. War is a chance to view the world through a critical lens. War is a chance for us to look at what we are fighting for or against and to decide when enough is enough. War--I guess it might be good for something.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Multiculturalism in Science Fiction

While browsing the site of Flow TV, I came across the article Becoming the Other: Multiculturalism in Joss Whedon's Angel, by Jane Stadler. I found this article particularly interesting because I felt it could be best translated for classroom use. I think about all of the multicultural literature that we teach, but never thought of using science fiction series to teach important issues such as immigration and race. This show could be used with my novel The Giver by Lois Lowry. In this novel, the society is controlled by a person called The Giver. No one in the community is allowed to think for themselves, no one is allowed to choose their profession, what they eat, or even feel emotions. Everyone is treated the same. They believe that sameness is so important in order to protect their people that they even look alike in appearance. Students could look at ways by which the characters in the show Angel are different and critique how they are treated the same or different based on their appearance. Once they have had time to critique and compare the Giver's world to the characters in Angel they would have to explain which world is better and why in a five paragraph essay.

Another part of Stadler's criticism that I found interesting is that the characters in Angel seem to be two-dimensional in the sense that characters seem to possess both good and evil traits and it is their struggle in controlling the two that makes the characters both dynamic and intriguing. Although we are all human and possess the ability to be both good and evil, science fiction seems to make these attributes more physically visible. Jane Stadler further argues that "Whedon's cult status suggests that characters and conflicts represented in his work tap into widespread concerns and warrant scrutiny. Examining how ideological messages about race, culture, and power are communicated through the interplay of heroism and villainy, she argues that the show Angel can be interpreted as a critique of this fear of foreigners" (Stadler, page 1). If you can then hook the viewers into the show by making the characters both vulnerable and heroic and then teach a message to them on the underlying conflicts in our world, you have a successful show. Therefore, it would be a media of high interest to students and another creative way to get your curriculum across to your students.

In other shows, they seem to tackle race and looks specifically at "white anxiety" in association with unwelcome foreigners. These foreigners are looked at directly as a threat that needs to be taken down in order to preserve their way of living. These episodes in general would be a great place for students to look at our current issues in regards to immigration and compare and contrast the views on the show to people's view of immigration in society. You could have students look at people who are both pro-immigration and anti-immigration and compare/contrast their different points of view. They could then have a formal debate where they would need to persuade the class to their side. They would need to do research, create an outline, use note-cards, and include one visual aid.

Interestingly enough, one way the show Angel undermines negative stereotypes, according to Stadler, is through casting people of color in central roles (Stadler, page 1). One demon character, Doyle, is actually protected in the show by fascist soldier demons who attempt genocide to ensure a pure bloodline. This episode in general would be great to have students look at in comparison to the unit I teach on genocide in the Holocaust. What role does the demon character play that would be comparable in Nazi controlled Europe? How do you think Doyle feels having to be in fear of his life and those like him just because of the way he looks? How could we re-write this episode with Doyle being the lead character? How can we re-write history to portray a more democratic and unified nation that does not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, ethnicity, etc? I think after reading this critique, I will definitely explore the science-fiction series such as Angel, Star Wars, Buffy, Star Trek and others to help teach critical themes in the classroom.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Sports as Popular Culture

Teaching Versus Coaching

I found the article titled Expertise in coaching and teaching: A qualitative study of physical educators and athletic coaches particularly interesting. It seems to me that this idea of the phy-ed coach who cares more about coaching than teaching is a theme too often seen in today's public schools. I guess I feel that our culture puts more emphasis and importance on team sports and their success (or lack there of) then what is going on educationally in the classroom. You see it when you look at the pay scale for someone teaching speech, theatre, tutoring, clubs...they are all paid considerably less than a football or hockey coach. And why is that? Aren't both equally important to ensuring a well-rounded individual?

I found the study, in many ways, reinforcing some of my beliefs. The fact that the study proved that coaches spent more time on instructional strategies for game day than in the classroom speaks loud and clear to what is important: sports. I guess I have always known that this double standard was present, but one thing I didn't think about before was the pressure these teachers have to win games and how winning games decides their fate in the school system. I found it interesting that coaches "are seldom fired for teaching inadequacy but are recurrently terminated for losing in athletics" (Hardin, page 2). What then does this say about our society? It states very clearly to students, teachers, administration, and parents that our values in the culture by which we live puts higher value on athleticism than intellect. As an educator that teaches English, I find this particularly disturbing.

I think a lesson on the topic of value and what makes something valuable could be interesting in relation to this article. I think having students page through some old yearbooks (maybe even mine) and pull out what they felt were the "valued" aspects of that year and explain why would be a great starting point.

My hope is to have students really center on the value that is placed on sports in school. I may then show images of a basketball, football player with that of an National Honor Society member and see which one is more important or valuable and why? We could then talk about whether or not the value placed solely on sports is good. What other traits other than athleticism might an individual need to be successful in life? Are they valued in the school setting? Why or why not? Hopefully after this mini-lesson students will be able to better understand the power value has in society and how it shapes who and what we are.

The Gulf War Superbowl

I remember being in the twelfth grade and finding out that one of my close friends was headed off to the Gulf War. Not being much of a sports fan back then, I do not remember watching the Super Bowl that year, but I am sure that I must have tuned in at one time or another.

I was shocked that at a time of war that the Super Bowl was even aloud to be broad casted. to me, it seems like a huge conflict of interest to be covering the Gulf War at half-time. This idea that the troops would even have time to watch the first half of the Super Bowl is absolutely ridiculous. I personally think Coca-Cola had it right. Pull their ads and make a huge donation. I guess I can also understand that at time of war and international crisis, the American citizens need a distraction which the Super Bowl can fill.

If I was to teach this in the classroom, it could possibly fit into my Holocaust Unit in talking about war propaganda. I think some follow-up questions could be:

What is propaganda and when is it appropriate to use it?
Do you think the Super Bowl should have been televised? Why or why not?
Do you think that this could be seen as a tribute to our troops or was it more of a distraction?
Do you think that at times of war, the American people need a distraction from the "task at hand?" Why or why not?
Do you think Coca-Cola did the right thing by pulling their ads during the Super Bowl?

Friday, March 7, 2008

Week 7 Assignment

Read Cameron White’s article:
Integrating Music in History Education

Read and Click through the SlideShare presentation:
“The Beatles: The Original Boy Band in the Global Village”

The musical "artifact" that I chose was the Buffalo Soldier by Bob Marley and Jamaican disc jockey named King Sporty which came out in the 1980's on the Confrontation album. Below is a music video and the lyrics to the song.

Here is another video as well:

Buffalo soldier, dreadlock rasta:
There was a buffalo soldier in the heart of america,
Stolen from africa, brought to america,
Fighting on arrival, fighting for survival.

I mean it, when I analyze the stench -
To me it makes a lot of sense:
How the dreadlock rasta was the buffalo soldier,
And he was taken from africa, brought to america,
Fighting on arrival, fighting for survival.

Said he was a buffalo soldier, dreadlock rasta -
Buffalo soldier in the heart of america.

If you know your history,
Then you would know where you coming from,
Then you wouldnt have to ask me,
Who the eck do I think I am.

Im just a buffalo soldier in the heart of america,
Stolen from africa, brought to america,
Said he was fighting on arrival, fighting for survival;
Said he was a buffalo soldier win the war for america.

Dreadie, woy yoy yoy, woy yoy-yoy yoy,
Woy yoy yoy yoy, yoy yoy-yoy yoy!
Woy yoy yoy, woy yoy-yoy yoy,
Woy yoy yoy yoy, yoy yoy-yoy yoy!
Buffalo soldier troddin through the land, wo-ho-ooh!
Said he wanna ran, then you wanna hand,
Troddin through the land, yea-hea, yea-ea.

Said he was a buffalo soldier win the war for america;
Buffalo soldier, dreadlock rasta,
Fighting on arrival, fighting for survival;
Driven from the mainland to the heart of the caribbean.

Singing, woy yoy yoy, woy yoy-yoy yoy,
Woy yoy yoy yoy, yoy yoy-yoy yoy!
Woy yoy yoy, woy yoy-yoy yoy,
Woy yoy yoy yoy, yoy yoy-yoy yoy!

Troddin through san juan in the arms of america;
Troddin through jamaica, a buffalo soldier# -
Fighting on arrival, fighting for survival:
Buffalo soldier, dreadlock rasta.

Woy yoy yoy, woy yoy-yoy yoy,
Woy yoy yoy yoy, yoy yoy-yoy yoy!
Woy yoy yoy, woy yoy-yoy yoy,
Woy yoy yoy yoy, yoy yoy-yoy yoy! /fadeout/

First of all, for people to truly understand the lyrics in the historical context which Marley is referring to, one must know what a Buffalo Soldier is and their contribution to the history of the United States. There are several important websites that help make sense of this part of history such as:

Buffalo Soldier Wikipedia Page
Forgotten American History Page
Memorial of the Ninth Cavalry
Buffalo Soldiers and Indian Wars
Who Are The Buffalo Soldiers?
Buffalo Soldiers and the Constitution

I remember when I first heard this song. I was in middle school and thought it had a cool beat. I also thought that it had a good message, but didn't think much more about it--except thinking what is a buffalo soldier? Being young and naive, I assumed it was slang for something I didn't know anything about.

Now, re-listening to this song, I realize the true importance of it and how we have been mis-educated in regards to American history. It is interesting to see what is taught, not taught, or conveniently left out in our schools. In reading information I found in the above mentioned websites I have been re-educated. I catch this happening a lot in regards to history. I think maybe that is why I am so fascinated and passionate about learning about the past. According to Wikipedia, the title and lyrics to Bob Marley's song Buffalo Soldier refer to the black U.S. cavalry regiments known as "buffalo soldiers" that fought the Indian Wars after 1866. The "buffalo soldiers" were the first peace time all black regiments in the regular U.S. army. Many cultural historians have criticized this movement because many times this cavalry were known as "shock troops" meaning that they were the first to go in against the enemy and clearly had the biggest chance of death. Here is a video that tells a little about the Buffalo Soldiers history.

Here is a video done by actual buffalo soldiers

If I was to teach this to a group of middle school students, we would first listen to the song and have them interpret what the lyrics meant, what Marley was referring to by the buffalo soldiers, and what is the over-arching message? Once students have analyzed that, I think it would be important to teach them a little bit about the buffalo soldiers from this time period. This would be a good place to share the timeline. I believe that this timeline could be used in a lecture about the history of the Buffalo Soldier prior to them doing their research on the ninth and tenth cavalries. This way students have some prior knowledge going into their topic and will be able to narrow their information.One way we could do this is by having them pair up and research one of the cavalries and report to the class what they learned. They could also state what they didn't know previously to this assignment, and how this information may be relevant in today's world.
Here is my timeline which I made into a movie that highlights African Americans in the armed forces from 1812-present.

We could then open this up into a discussion on race relations, discrimination, racism and prejudice. What examples do we see in our society that deal with these issues? When you see this, what do you do? What should you do? How can we change this in society? One way to look at these issues is to look at images in the media throughout history. On the website Planet Tolerance, they do exactly this. The lesson is entitled Images in Action. Historical and modern day images often contain hidden messages about us, about others and about our world. These subtle lessons lie just beneath the surface. In order to see them, we must replace passive consumption of images with critical analysis. We can no longer accept a sculpture or a logo at face value. We must dig deeper. We must ask questions about why we perceive things the way we do. I would like to have students explore this site. After they have had time to explore and take the information in, I would end the lesson with having them do the following:

Based on your own research, what types of prejudice and racism do you think the buffalo soldiers were faced with? Draw a picture and explain it. Then, have students draw the depiction that the buffalo soldier should have been viewed as and explain it. Have them share these with the class.

Some other useful websites are as follows:

Fight Hate and Promote Tolerance

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Final Project: The Holocaust and Pop Culture

In my eighth grade English class, we spend a semester on an in-depth study of the Holocaust. In order to best teach this subject it is important for students to really understand the history. To make sure that they have a deeper understanding of what happened, we spend a considerable time reading articles and researching information on the official Holocaust Museum Website . My hope is that students will not only become better writers and understand the complexities of the writing process, but also gain a true understanding of the history of genocide throughout the world, our role in that, and a deeper understanding of what the victims went through. Now if I can empower my students to take this a step further and really take action by raising money for victims in Darfur, for example, that would be an added bonus.

Some expectations for this unit are as follows:

1) Students will be expected to blog weekly about information related to the topic of genocide. They can either choose to link articles and respond to them or choose five quotations that pertain to this theme and analyze them.

2) Students will view the documentary One Survivor Remembers and then participate in a service learning project of their choice.

3) Students will be expected to create a poster that highlights ten interesting facts about an Olympic athlete from the Nazi Olympics held in Berlin and include at least one visual aid.

4) Students will study the regions where genocide has occurred and still is occurring in places like Rwanda, Darfur, Burma, and Sri Lanka and compare these to the Holocaust in Europe.

5 ) Students will be expected to research either the position of pro-war or anti-war after viewing and discussing the pros and cons of each.

6) Students will study and analyze protest music from different time periods including the Holocaust and compare/contrast the issues.

7) Students will be expected to create an i-movie showcasing their self-created protest song.

8) Students will be expected to write an 8-10 page research paper on any topic related to genocide.

Activity One:

Before we read the Diary of Anne Frank we spend time in literature circles examining articles on Adolf Hitler, SS Soldiers, concentration camps, the ghettos, people who put their lives at risk to hide these fugitives, as well as Holocaust survivor stories. I have also had them get into small groups and read/discuss young people’s diaries from around the world that were faced with the Holocaust and have them compare them to Anne Frank as well as what it would be like to be a teenager living in these conditions.

We then watch the award-winning documentary film One Survivor Remembers which tells the empowering story of the Holocaust survivor Gerda Weissman Klein. Follow-up questions could be:

1) What kind of inner strength must one possess in order to survive something so tragic?
2) What characteristics do you see in Gerda?

Teaching Tolerance has great materials that they allow you to preview and in most cases get for free. After viewing the movie, they could spend a few days doing the activities explained below.

In September 2005, Teaching Tolerance released "One Survivor Remembers," a teaching kit built around the incredible life story of Holocaust survivor Gerda Weissman Klein. This lesson is an excerpt from the accompanying teacher's guide.

Grades: 8 and up


  • Students will gain an understanding of the plight of the Jews during the Holocaust

  • Students will understand the dangers of hate and extremism

  • Students will empathize having one's possessions taken away

Time and Materials
  • One or two class periods

  • Twenty pounds of flour, sugar or potatoes (optional)

In the film, Gerda Weissmann recalls being told her family had to leave their home with no more than 20 pounds of belongings, a plight shared by many Jews. On the day the lesson is introduced, 20 pounds of flour, sugar or potatoes may be presented to the class — and passed around for students to hold — as an example of what 20 pounds represents.

The One-Day Lesson
Ask students to imagine being forced to leave their homes. They are allowed 20 pounds of their most precious possessions. What would they take? What would they be forced to leave behind? How would this make them feel? On what would they base their choices? Would monetary value mean less or more than emotional/personal value? Why?

Also discuss the difference between packing for a vacation — the choices being made for a trip in which you plan to return home — compared with being forced from your home, never to return. Other examples — recent devastation by hurricanes in Florida or wild fires in California — might help students understand forced departure, but be careful to distinguish between devastation caused by nature and devastation caused by human hatred.

Extending the Lesson
Ask students to pose the same scenario to family members or guardians: You are being forced to leave your home and will be allowed to take only 20 pounds of personal belongings. What do you choose and why?

Have students record answers, identifying the differences and similarities between their own answers and answers from their loved ones. Then have students write a one-page paper about their family's responses. The teacher also may complete this exercise and share it with the class.

After the reports are presented, have students list the range of emotions they and their families experienced during this exercise.

Teaching Tolerance also has a wonderful Service Learning Project that goes along with the movie as well.

Teach students how to become active in their communities with service-learning projects.

  • Students will understand that knowledge and understanding can move us to action

  • Students will critically analyze an issue in their community

  • Students will develop a plan of action for a service-learning project

Time and Materials
  • An ongoing class project

  • A planning sheet (PDF) to help guide the project

"Ilse, a childhood friend of mine, once found a raspberry in the camp and carried it in her pocket all day to present to me that night on a leaf. Imagine a world in which your entire possession is one raspberry, and you give it to your friend."
-- Gerda Weissmann Klein

You have no doubt been moved by the film One Survivor Remembers. Now, the question looms:

What can I do to make a difference in the world?
This lesson introduces a service-learning project on hunger. It is complete with action steps and resources. Gerda Weissmann experienced tremendous hunger during her years in slave-labor camps and along the death march; consequently, ending hunger is a priority for The Gerda and Kurt Klein Foundation. In this service-learning project, students will take action to help end hunger in their own communities.

During the discussion and planning, help students understand that small steps matter; no one can overcome a societal problem alone, but everyone can do his or her part.

NOTE: This service-learning project focuses on hunger. Treat it as a model. Students may choose other issues to address. Invite students to identify issues beyond hunger in their community as they take action to improve the world. You may brainstorm, in small groups or as a class, 10 issues that students are concerned about. (Examples: homelessness, discrimination, hate crimes, poverty, the elderly, bullying, etc.) Which one seems to garner the most interest? Select one on which to focus.

Hunger Service-Learning Project: A Model for Student Action

Step 1: Hunger Today
In the United States, more than 33 million people and more than one-third of them children experience hunger. Food pantries and food kitchens feed more than 13 million people each month in the United States. Have students explore the websites listed below to find out more facts about hunger (or their chosen issue) in their community, in their state, in their nation and the world.

Step 2: Discussion
Use the research from Step 1 to discuss the following:

  1. Why are there people in this abundant world who are hungry?

  2. How many people suffer from hunger in the United States? Who are they? Are numbers rising or declining?

  3. What organizations exist to address hunger? Is this adequate?

  4. What does the term "food insecurity" mean? Who is affected by food insecurity?

  5. What is being done to alleviate hunger in our own community? Is it adequate?

  6. Is hunger too large a problem for one person to solve? Does that mean we shouldn't do anything?

Step 3: Service-Learning Project
Use the accompanying planning sheet to guide the project. Questions for consideration:
  1. What can we do to alleviate hunger in our community?

  2. How long can we do it? Is our plan a short-term answer or a long-term answer?

  3. Who can help us?

Step 4: Reflection
During and after the project, students may answer the following questions through written reflections, discussions and dialogue with each other and their community:
  1. What went well about the project?

  2. What can we improve upon next time?

  3. What have we learned about hunger? About our community? About ourselves?

  4. What is the next step, and how will we take it?

Visit The Klein Foundation and click on "How to Take Action" for more service-learning resources addressing hunger.

Also visit these websites:

Know Hunger
America's Second Harvest
Oxfam America
National Service-Learning Clearinghouse
USA Freedom Corps
Heifer International
Read to Feed

Activity two:

The next project is to have students look at information from the Nazi Olympics. Students analyze and study the opinions of people and analyze the controversy surrounding the Olympics being held in Germany at this time. Students then spend time with a partner looking at an on-line exhibition on the Nazi Olympics looking specifically at the preparations, re-militarization, Nazi propaganda, facade of hospitality, opening of the games, athletic competition, African American athletes, Jewish athletes, and the Nazi control of the Olympics. The follow-up questions would be as follows:

1) Explain in your own words the controversy surrounding the 1936 Olympics being help in Berlin?
2) What were some of the world responses?
3) Do you personally think that the Olympics should have been held in Berlin? Why or why not?
4) How would you feel if you were an African American athlete?
5) How would you feel if you were a Jewish athlete?
6) How would you feel if you were told that you could not participate in the Olympics at all because of your race?
7) Define the term racial hygiene.
8) What was something that interested you that you did not know before?

Students would learn a brief history of The Berlin Olympics as well as the controversy surrounding it, analyze Olympic posters from the time period, as well as famous athletes. Another helpful website is The United States Holocaust Encyclopedia. Students should also listen to the podcast on the previous website. Now that there is a stirring controversy over China hosting the 2008 Olympic Games, Susan Bachrach, a U.S. Holocaust Museum historian, discusses a similar controversy people had with the Berlin Games.

Follow up questions could be:
1) What is the problem with China hosting the 2008 Olympic Games?
2) Compare/Contrast the controversies between the two.

Here is a video clip that looks at the protests of the China Olympics 2008:

Olympic Research Assessment:
They would then get with a partner and they would be expected to choose an Olympic athlete from the Winter Games. Some important athletes are as follows:

1) Herman Goldberg--Baseball Olympian and a Jewish-American
2) Helene Mayer--Fencing Olympian and a Jewish-American
3) Jesse Owens--Track and Field Olympian--African American

They would need to find at least ten interesting facts about them and create a poster that highlights their life and experience at the Nazi Olympics. They should also include at least one visual aid. They would then present their posters in front of the class.

Activity three:

Next, I like to extend this topic to genocide around the world today. I think it would be interesting to show clips from the controversy in Rwanda in 1994. Here are some clips from this:

Not only was this going on in Rwanda, but it is currently going on in many regions throughout the world. After Hitler's Holocaust, the world said never again, but it is clear that this is not the case. My daughter's Montessori teacher is from Sri Lanka. When the Tsunami hit, she was very worried about her relatives because they live in the northern part of Sri Lanka where the government is clearly starving her people. When countries like the United States would send relief packages to Sri Lanka, the supplies were not allowed to go into the northern region. Here is a few video clips of what is happening in Sri Lanka.

Another region that is faced with ethnic cleansing and genocide as we speak is in Burma. Here are some video clips from this region:

After viewing all videos have students discuss and answer these follow up questions:

1) Do you think genocide is a problem that we should concern ourselves with and why?
2) Why do you think the United Nations is not getting involved?
3) Do we have a moral obligation to help these victims? Why or why not?
4) Why does genocide still exist today?

Activity four:

Holocaust Paeida Seminar Questions
Directions: Choose any of the three questions from below. Prepare a thoughtful response to each question and be prepared to share your responses with the class. Additionally, generate one original question of your own. You will be expected to contribute this question to the class discussion.

1) Can a person be convinced to do things by peer pressure? How did peer pressure influence behavior in Nazi controlled Europe? What are some examples of peer pressure today?

2) Hitler planned to destroy the Jews. Additionally, he planned to oppress all Non-Aryan people; this would have included many whites. How did this attitude and prejudice generate such hatred toward racial and cultural groups? What are the attitudes that create today's prejudices?

3) The Nazi propaganda to communicate their ideals to the German people and to convince them to hate the Jews--particularly with political cartoons. How can public opinion/views be controlled today if only one side of the story were reported or depicted?

4) There were people in Nazi controlled Europe who resisted the politics and efforts of the Nazi government. Discuss consequences a person had to consider before risking his/her life to help the Jews?

5) If a law is perceived as unjust, what are appropriate ways to change it?

6) How do common problems divide people? How do common problems unite people? What are some common problems in society/school that could be solved if people were to work together?

7) Many neighbors, friends, and business partners of European Jews turned them in to the Nazi/Gestapo units. Taking the lives of civilians/non-combatants became routine for the Nazis. Why do you think it became easy for the Nazis to murder, or why it became common for close acquaintances to betray people who were once close to them?

8) Should the topic of the Holocaust be studied in schools today? Why? What value, if any, can be derived from studying an event that happened so long ago?

Activity five:

The first
debate that I would like to have the students argue is looking at the reasons they are either pro-war or anti-war. When they have had time to do this, students would be put into small groups to share their opinions. The next assignment would involve extending this idea by looking at and critically analyzing protest music that supports their position and their viewpoints. Once they have had time to watch these pro-war or anti-war videos, they would spend time writing a five paragraph persuasive essay that would convince the class that their position is the right position.

Persuasive Essay Assessment:

___Know your subject. Do not take an issue that you know very little about. Get all the facts first.

___Take a stand. Don't say that you are kinda for it. Too wishy-washy. Make up your mind and then stick with it through your whole paper.

___Give evidence. Give your reader sound reasons to be on your side of things. Don't just say that the other sides are stupid.

___Picture the reader. Get a picture of the reader in your mind. Pretend that he or she does not agree with you. Then, decide how to convince them.

___Offer more than one reason for each major point.

___Keep the big picture in mind. Good persuasive writing helps people make up their minds. think of yourself as a tour guide pointing out the important arguments of the tour of your topic.

___Save your best argument for last. What you say toward the end of your paper is what will stay with the reader.

___Use passion, not emotion. care about your topic, but you still need the force of logic.

___Make sure that your paper has five paragraphs: an introduction, at least three body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

___Proper grammar and punctuation.

Anti-War Analysis:

This next clip is of Bob Dylan's song "Masters of War," which when first released, was protesting the Vietnam War. (Eddie Veter from Pearl Jam has done a cover of it, however, I prefer the original). The YouTube video shows how this song definitely transcends time and is most appropriate in relation to how some feel currently about the war in Iraq today. I have also included the lyrics as well.

It would be interesting to have students just read the lyrics alone, and write down any images or thoughts that came to their mind. Then, have them listen to the song with the lyrics and have them note if their views about the lyrics/song changed, and lastly watch the video, and comment on that as well.

Other follow-up questions might be:

1) Who is the speaker?
2)What examples of descriptive imagery did you find?
3)Who are these "Masters of War" and how does the speaker feel about them?

This also lends itself to a deeper teaching of the Holocaust and genocide that we teach in the spring as well. The overarching question that I would like to address to students is what are we not learning from our past that makes us prone to keep repeating it or do you think war is inevitable? Why or why not?

Bob Dylan's Masters of War lyrics

Come you masters of war
You that build all the guns
You that build the death planes
You that build the big bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks

You that never done nothin'
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it's your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and run farther
When the fast bullets fly

Like Judas of old
You lie and deceive
A world war can be won
You want me to believe
But I see through your eyes
And I see through your brain
Like I see through the water
That runs down my drain

You fasten the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion
As young people's blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud

You've thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world
For threatening my baby
Unborn and unnamed
You ain't worth the blood
That runs in your veins

How much do I know
To talk out of turn
You might say that I'm young
You might say I'm unlearned
But there's one thing I know
Though I'm younger than you
Even Jesus would never
Forgive what you do

Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul

And I hope that you die
And your death'll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I'll watch while you're lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I'll stand o'er your grave
'Til I'm sure that you're dead

Copyright © 1963; renewed 1991 Special Rider Music

Columbia Records

This clip highlights Bright Eyes song When the President Talks to God. This is a anti- war protest song that is aimed at the Bush administration. What I like about this song is that it was created in the 21st century and may have more student appeal. I would have the students do the same activity that they did with "Masters of War" outlined above and then compare/contrast the two songs. It would be a great extension project to my Holocaust unit to have them research protest songs throughout history and then create their own protest song/i-movie and present these in small or large groups. Here are the song lyrics and a video I found.

When the president talks to God
Are the conversations brief or long?
Does he ask to rape our women’s' rights
And send poor farm kids off to die?
Does God suggest an oil hike
When the president talks to God?

When the president talks to God
Are the consonants all hard or soft?
Is he resolute all down the line?
Is every issue black or white?
Does what God say ever change his mind
When the president talks to God?

When the president talks to God
Does he fake that drawl or merely nod?
Agree which convicts should be killed?
Where prisons should be built and filled?
Which voter fraud must be concealed
When the president talks to God?

When the president talks to God
I wonder which one plays the better cop
We should find some jobs. the ghetto's broke
No, they're lazy, George, I say we don't
Just give 'em more liquor stores and dirty coke
That's what God recommends

When the president talks to God
Do they drink near beer and go play golf
While they pick which countries to invade
Which Muslim souls still can be saved?
I guess god just calls a spade a spade
When the president talks to God

When the president talks to God
Does he ever think that maybe he's not?
That that voice is just inside his head
When he kneels next to the presidential bed
Does he ever smell his own bullshit
When the president talks to God?

I doubt it

I doubt it

Follow-up Questions:

1) What is the tone of this poem and why?
2) What is the speaker's overall message and more importantly is it effective? Why or why not?
3) What are the speaker's problems with the President?
4) Is this image of the President talking to God useful? Why or why not?
5) How does the poet use repitition to get his point across?

This next clip has to deal with John Lennon's song Merry Christmas, War is Over. I chose this one because I think it would be interesting to have the students analyze the song and the video looking specifically at the irony between the lyrics and the imagery created in the video. What is Lennon trying to tell us?

The next clip is a great duet with Mary Blige and Bonno singing U2's hit One. This song is very powerful and is even more so with the video. The video highlights the horrors of the genocide currently going on in Darfur. It would be useful to have the students analyze the lyrics and video and then compare it to what we studying in our eighth grade English class about the Holocaust.


One by U2
Is it getting better
Or do you feel the same
Will it make it easier on you
Now you got someone to blame

You say
One love
One life
When its one need
In the night
Its one love
We get to share it
It leaves you baby
If you don't care for it

Did I disappoint you?
Or leave a bad taste in your mouth?
You act like you never had love
And you want me to go without

Well its too late
To drag tha past out
Into the light
Were one
But were not the same
We get to carry each other
Carry each other

Have you come here for forgiveness
Have you come tor raise the dead
Havew you come here to play jesus
To the lepers in your head
Did I ask too much
More than a lot
You gave me nothing
Now its all I got
Were one
But were not the same
We hurt each other
Then we do it again

You say
Love is a temple
Love a higher law
Love is a temple
Love the higher law
You ask me to enter
But then you make me crawl
And I cant be holding on
To what you got
When all you got is hurt

One love
One blood
One life
You got to do what you should

One life
With each other

One life
But were not the same
We get to carry each other
Carry each other



Follow-up Questions:

1) Who is the speaker trying to address?
2) How could this song address the theme of genocide?
3) What is the poet's overall message?

Pro-War Analysis:

Here is a song by Toby Keith entitled The American Soldier

I'm just trying to be a father
raise a daughter and a son
be a lover to their mother
everything to everyone

Up and at 'em bright and early
I'm all business in my suit
Yeah, I'm dressed up for success
From my head down to my boots

I don't do it for the money
There's bills that I can't pay
I don't do it for the glory
I just do it anyway

Providing for our future's my responsibility
Yeah I'm real good under pressure
Being all that I can be
I can't call in sick on Mondays
When the weekend's been too strong
I just work straight through the holidays
Sometimes all night long

You can bet that I stand ready
when the wolf growls at the door
Yeah I'm solid, yeah I'm steady
Hey I'm true down to the core

And I will always do my duty
No matter what the price
I've counted up the cost
I know the sacrifice
Oh and I don't wanna die for you
But if dying's asked of me
I'll bear that cross with honor
Cause freedom don't come free

I'm an American soldier
An American
Beside my brothers and my sisters
I will proudly take a stand
When liberty's in jeopardy
I'll always do what's right
I'm out here on the front line
So sleep in peace at night
I'm an American soldier
I'm an American soldier

Yeah an American soldier
An American
Beside my brothers and my sisters
I will proudly take a stand
When liberty's in jeopardy
I'll always do what's right
I'm out here on the front lines
So sleep in peace at night
I'm an American soldier
I'm an American
An American
An American soldier

1) What are the words used to describe the soldiers?
2) What examples of patriotism can you find?
3) Based on this song, what characteristics must a soldier have?
4) What images does Toby Keith create in this song?

Here is a video in honor of our troops:

Here is another song by Toby Keith, Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue

Courtesy Of The Red, White And Blue (The Angry American)
Toby Keith

American Girls and American Guys
We’ll always stand up and salute
We’ll always recognize
When we see Old Glory Flying
There’s a lot of men dead
So we can sleep in peace at night
When we lay down our head

My daddy served in the army
Where he lost his right eye
But he flew a flag out in our yard
’til the day that he died
He wanted my mother, and my brother, my sister and me
To grow up and live happy
In the land of the free.

Now this nation that I love
Has fallen under attack
A mighty sucker punch came flyin in
From somewhere in the back
Soon as we could see clearly
Through our big black eye
Man, we lit up your world
Like the 4th of July

Hey Uncle Sam
Put your name at the top of his list
And the Statue of Liberty
Started shakin her fist
And the eagle will fly
And its gonna be hell
When you hear Mother Freedom
Start ringin her bell
It’ll feel like the whole wide world is raining down on you
Aw brought to you Courtesy of the Red White and Blue

Justice will be served
And the battle will rage
This big dog will fight
When you rattle his cage
You’ll be sorry that you messed with
The U.S. of A.
'Cause we'll put a BOOT in your ass
It's the American way

Hey Uncle Sam
Put your name at the top of his list
And the Statue of Liberty
Started shakin’ her fist
And the eagle will fly
Man, it’s gonna be hell
When you hear mother Freedom
Start ringin’ her bell
And it feels like the whole wide world is raining down on you now
Aw brought to you Courtesy of the Red White and Blue

Follow-up Questions:
1) What re-ocurring motifs does Keith use to symbolize patriotism?
2) What is the overall message of this song?
3) What images does he create to support his opinion?

Another patriotic song to have students analyze is the following one, You Do Your Thing, I'll Do Mine by Montgomery Gentry.

Put me on a mountain, way back in the back woods
Put me on a lake with pickin on the line
Put me 'round a campfire cookin' something I just cleaned
You do your thing, I'll do mine

I ain't tradin' in my family's safety
Just to save a little gas
And I'll pray to God any place, any time
And you can bet I'll pick up the phone if Uncle Sam calls me up
You do your thing, I'll do mine

Hey, I'll worry about me
You just worry about you
And I'll believe what I believe
And you believe what you believe too

I ain't gonna spare the rod
Cuz that ain't what my daddy did
And I sure know the difference between wrong and right
You know, to me it's all just common sense
A broken rule, a consequence
You do your thing, I'll do mine

Hey, I'll worry about me
You just worry about you
And I'll believe what I believe
And you believe what you believe too

I'm gonna keep on working hard
Make my money the old-fashioned way
I don't wanna piece of someone else's pie
If I don't get my fill on life I ain't gonna blame no one but me
You do your thing, I'll do mine

You ain't gonna be my judge
Cuz my judge will judge us all one day
You do your thing, I'll do mine

Follow-up Questions

1) What does Gentry mean by "You do your thing, and I'll do mine?" Furthermore, what kind of a world would we live in if people just did whatever they wanted?

2) What are some of his political views brought to light through this song?

I would first ask the class to define protest music in their own words. I would then ask them to share what protest songs or artists they are familiar with, as well as what issues or themes have been explored through the use of protest music.

Once we have had time to critically analyze current day protest music, I would then ask students the following questions:
1) How long has protest music been around?
2) What artists or musicians are you familiar with that protest war, life, being a teenager, etc.

I would then explain that protest music has been documented as early as the 17th century. The reason being is that there have been injustices in our world since the beginning of time. In the 17th century, people were upset about taxes so they were protesting that, during slavery, Negro spirituals were important protests songs, during the Women's suffrage Movement people sang about it, during the 1960's Martin Luther King spoke about the injustices and John Lennon, Bob Dylan, and many others wrote music pushing for equal rights for all.

Next, I would pose the question to students about the Holocaust. Do you think there was protest music then? What would the themes of this music be about. I would then pair them up and have them look at the following website on Holocaust Music

There focus would be the following:
1) What were street songs and what were they protesting about?
2) What were domestic songs and what were they protesting about?
3) What were the songs of the camps and what were they protesting about?
4) Read the list of important people. List three and tell a little bit about their contribution to this time period.
5) Do you think protest songs helped the plight of the victims of the Holocaust? Why or why not?
6) What then are the purposes of protest songs?

Once students finished this, I think the next step would be to introduce protest music looking specifically at it’s purpose and whether or not it has been effective throughout history. One helpful website is The Top Twenty Protest Songs. Another helpful website looks at Vietnam Songs.

Decade Project Assessment:
They could present this information by way of our class wiki. They would need to include visual aids as well. It would be their choice in how to highlight this information to the class. They would also be reminded that they are to be the experts of this decade, so make sure that they know enough. Essentially the overarching goal would be to see if their views changed or stayed the same regarding protest music’s ability to change society on a local, global, or international level. Here is my movie protesting the Holocaust.

___Have you included historical background about your decade?

___What were some of the big problems of the decade?

___What were society's values at the time?

___How did this affect protest music?

___Make sure to include two images

Activity six:

The last project that students would explore is looking at ways in which teenagers can protest. What are the issues that they would like to see changed such as bullying, peer pressure, society's view of body image, drug use, ageism, too much homework, etc. After we had time to share what the class believes are the “real” teen issues, they would then choose one to focus on for their project.

I would then spend time showing students how to use i-movie: how to upload images, upload music, and also how to use the special effects.

Protest Song Assessment:
Once they have written their song, the next step would to create an i-movie about that highlights the important points in your song. Students would be expected to choose images that they think best highlight their position. Expectation checklist is as follows:

___What is your protest song about? Give a brief summary about your topic and why you are passionate about it.

___Opening Title: What is the title of your protest song? Put some thought into this. My Protest Song is not acceptable. Be creative!

___Is your slideshow approximately one minute long? Anything longer can lose the interest of your audience.

___Have you chosen at least ten images/clips for your i-movie that are appropriate and evoke emotion in the viewer. When looking for clips and images keep this in mind.

___Have you used at least three picture effects?

___Have you included your protest song as the background music of your movie?

___Is your presentation thoughtful and organized?

___End Credits: Have you given credit for the sources borrowed as discussed in class?

Activity Seven:

Once we have done some collaborative research and discussion, students are asked to choose a topic that interests them about the Holocaust and write an eight to ten page research paper. I explain to students that they will be doing research which requires them to include a works cited page and also go through what a reliable source and a non-reliable source is by giving tangible examples of both.

Each day, by the end of class, it is their responsibility to complete five note-cards of information. At the end of the week, I check to see that students have completed 25 of them completely and correctly. Once they have fifty note-cards, they can then begin writing their paper. They must follow the five paragraph essay format.

Their introduction must start out with an attention getter. I explain to students that this can be a quotation that relates to your topic, a statistic, a story, or even an open ended series of questions. The importance of it is to catch the attention of the person reading your paper and motivate them to learn more. The next part of the introduction is the thesis statement. Students are taught that this is what your paper is going to cover and needs to be specific. We then go through some specific examples so they understand what I am asking of them. I remind them that to start a sentence with "I think" or "I feel" would not be effective and teach them ways to avoid this.

The next series of paragraphs are what we consider to be the body of your paper. Each paragraph here starts with a topic sentence. A topic sentence is a sentence that tells the reader what your paragraph is going to cover. I then explain that students should have at least three citations per paragraph. I explain next how to cite their information by way of MLA. the next part of the paragraph then is the closing sentence and wraps up your thoughts. I also explain that each body paragraph should have one transition that ties their ideas together.
Lastly, I explain what a good conclusion has. I explain that the first thing that you need to do is restate your thesis which means say it in a different way. I explain that the purpose of this is like a road map for your readers and signals to them that your paper is about to conclude.
Next, you summarize your main points briefly, and then end with a memorable statement. I explain to the students that you want the reader to take time to ponder your paper and thoughts and it is similar to the thesis statement. You can end with an overarching question or a quotation.

Once they understand the format, they can move on to choosing their topic. Some of the topics that students have chosen in the past are Adolf Hitler, Auschwitz, the gas chambers, medical experiments, Henrich Heimmler, companies that supported the Nazi regime, Holocaust survivors, people in hiding, Anne Frank, SS soldiers, Aryan Supremacy, gestapo, ethnic cleansing, the Third Reich, Hitler Youth, death camps, Women of the Holocaust, Euthanasia, the Nuremberg Laws, as well as extend it to genocide in Darfur, Burma, Rwanda just to name a few. Once students have chosen their topic, the next step is to narrow their research. I have students write an outline of the specific things they want to research about their topic. Once they have checked their outline with me, the next step is to begin their research. Our librarian has put together a lot of helpful sites for students to begin research.

they have written their rough draft, we have a peer-editing workshop where they have two people in the class edit their paper. One person is just looking for the mechanics of the essay and the other person looks more at your ideas, organization of your thoughts, etc. The next step then is to type their rough draft. Once they have finished writing their research paper, I think that it would be beneficial to have them do an extension project where they would create an i-movie based on their research and present these in small groups. They could first give the group a brief synopsis about their paper and then share their movie. They could explain to their group why they chose their topic, as well as what interested them in their research. Once the rest of the group had a chance to view their movie, it would be effective to have an open forum where they dialogue about the tone of the movie, what they thought the creator’s message was, and whether or not their portrayal was effective. Since students have an array of topics, it would be great for them to learn what others studied as well.

Assessment for Persuasive Essay:

___Does your research paper have an attention getter?

___Does your paper have a solid thesis statement as discussed in class?


Do you have clear and concise topic sentences?
___Do you have three citations per body paragraph? Are they cited properly?
___Do you use transitions to tie your thoughts together?
___Do you have closing sentences in all of your body paragraphs?
___Do your ideas follow a logical order?
___Is your paper organized?
___Do you have original ideas?
___Do you pay attention to word choice?

___Have you restated your thesis statement?
___have you briefly summarized your main points?
___Did you end your paper with a memorable statement


___Are all of your words spelled correctly?

____Is your paper neat?

Works Cited
__Have you cited your information properly within your paper following the MLA format?
__Is your works cited page done correctly following MLA standards and do you have it in alphabetical order by the last name of the author?