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Lesson Plans Library 9-12 > World History
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Holocaust Heroes
Grade level: 9-12 Subject: World History Duration: LPduration
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Students will
  • Understand the power of stories from the past.
  • Conduct interviews with family members or friends to learn stories from the past.
  • Develop a scrapbook page based on a story unique to each student's family.
  • Holocaust Heroes videoand VCR, orDVDand DVD player
  • Computer with Internet access
  1. Begin the lesson with a discussion of World War II and the Holocaust. What caused World War II? What happened during the Holocaust? Students' ideas may include the following:

    • World War II was caused by the growing tide of fascism in Europe and imperialism in Japan. The United States entered the war when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.
    • Adolf Hitler and the Nazis sent six million European Jews to their deaths in organized killings known as the Holocaust. Families were separated and destroyed.
  2. WatchHolocaust Heroes. Tell students that the story of Anne Frank and the children of La Hille are just two examples of the many stories that come from families.

  3. Ask students if they are familiar with stories from their own families. The story could be from a war, an immigration experience, or an event unique to their family. Assign students to interview a family member or friend about a story that has affected their lives. The student will develop a scrapbook page of the event using segments of the interview, photographs, and souvenirs.

  4. Give students time in class to prepare interview questions. If students need help getting started, suggest the following questions:

    • When did this event take place?
    • Where did it take place?
    • What makes this event significant?
    • Was the individual involved in danger? If so, how did he or she escape?
    • Does this event continue to affect your family or friends? If so, how?
  5. Students may find it interesting to read additional stories from the Holocaust. There are many examples on the Web including

  6. For homework, have students conduct their interviews. Have them write up their interviews and prepare their page for the class scrapbook of stories. Remind students that their pages should also include photographs or mementos.

  7. Collect all the pages and compile them into a class scrapbook. Share the scrapbook with other classes and have it available for visitors to look through.

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Use the following three-point rubric to evaluate students' work during this lesson.
  • Three points:Students were highly engaged in class discussions; developed detailed questions for their interviews; produced creative and informative pages for the class scrapbook.
  • Two points:Students participated in class discussions; developed adequate questions for their interviews; produced satisfactory pages for the class scrapbook.
  • One point:Students participated minimally in class discussions; did not complete the questions for their interviews; did not complete pages for the class scrapbook.

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Definition:A political philosophy based on nationalism and often racism that seeks an autocratic form of government run by a dictator and allows no opposition
Context:Although fascism suppresses many individual freedoms, people accepted rulers like Adolf Hitler in the 1930s because they provided economic stability.

Definition:The Nazi secret police, members had broad powers to act against "threats" to the state including arresting people and sending them to concentration camps.
Context:The Gestapo was considered above the law; it could order people to be tortured or executed without any judicial review.

Definition:A period in the late 1930s through 1945 during which six million Jews were sent to death camps and killed as part of an organized extermination program
Context:The Holocaust is considered one of the darkest times in world history, during which innocent men, women, and children were killed for no reason other than their ethnic heritage and religious beliefs.

Definition:Literally "crystal night"; November 9-10, 1938, when Nazi's attacked German Jews and their property; the name refers to the broken glass that littered the streets after the destruction
Context:More than a thousand synagogues were damaged or destroyed during Kristallnacht.

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Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL)
McREL's Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education addresses 14 content areas. To view the standards and benchmarks, visit

This lesson plan addresses the following national standards:

  • World History: Era 8 Understands the causes and global consequences of World War II
  • Historical Understanding Understands the historical perspective
  • Language Arts: Viewing Uses viewing skills and strategies to understand and interpret visual media
  • Language Arts: Writing Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process

The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS)
NCSS has developed national guidelines for teaching social studies. To become a member of NCSS, or to view the standards online, go to

This lesson plan addresses the following thematic standards:

  • Time, Continuity, and Change
  • Individuals, Groups, and Institutions

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Marilyn Fenichel, education writer and editor

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