This week we are wrapping up our unit on the Holocaust and I thought that I would share the ways in which I guide my students through this difficult topic in the hopes of giving fellow history teachers, especially novice teachers, some ideas. It can be extremely challenging to teach middle school students about the Holocaust for a number of reasons. First, the subject matter is hard (and despite what people may think many of my students have not learned about it before) and can hit home for some students based on personal history. Second, this topic requires students to be their most mature selves (which can require a great deal of teacher guidance and modeling in the middle years). That said, if it is done right, these lessons of one of humanity's greatest tragedies can stick with them for life. I, like so many teachers, teach history not only because I love the subject but also because I feel like the lessons of our history -- if instilled in our young people -- can guide the world toward good. So here are some of the resources and ways that I teach the Holocaust. I hope that they might help you in your teaching journey.
As I watch the headlines unfold day after day, and hear conversations among friends (both Democrats and Republicans alike) that our nation is more divided than ever, I can't help but feeling that educators (or maybe education policy gurus) are missing something - something vital to our democracy. The talk of late is about STEM and STEAM, about how we need to teach children to code, to experiment, to engineer and calculate. And we do, 100 percent. But by emphasizing some subjects over others, we are acting as though the humanities (subjects like history, civics, philosophy, geography and literacy) somehow don't matter as much as math and science.
Starting next week, on Mondays and Wednesdays rather than going to their homeroom class, our students will go a 25 minute enrichment class. The classes will meet for the duration of the 2nd quarter.
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