7th Grade ELA : Unit #7 - Informational Text - Persevering through the Adversity of our World Part 2 : Lesson #8

Paired Text Introduction to the Holocaust Part 2

Objective: SWBAT analyze the impact of word choice on meaning.
Standards: RI.7.4
Subject(s): English / Language Arts
60 minutes
1 Warm Up - 15 minutes

Today is Free Read Friday.  (The link here takes will take you to an earlier lesson with my reflection explaining Free Read Friday.) Students will read their personal library books for the first 15 minutes of class.

2 Lesson - 30 minutes

I will open class by telling students about my visit to the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC last year. I have a few pictures to share, but will focus on something I didn't get to take a picture of as it was not permitted -the shoe room.  This is the room visitors walk through with piles of shoes to the left and right.  Each shoe belonged to a victim, and it is overwhelming.  However, I am certain I will not be able to relay the enormity of that room to students.  So, I will share the following video to help them see.



After viewing the video, I will share another piece from Scholastic Scope's April 2011 issue (we used this magazine yesterday), "A Wagon of Shoes".  If you do not have access to this particular magazine, the poem and information about the poet can be found here .

After reading the introductory material about the poet, I will read the poem aloud as students follow.

We will briefly discuss the author's use of questions to give life to the shoes and make us think.  Then, I will ask students to look only at the picture of the shoes (this is beside the poem in the Scope Magazine, but there are many sources for a picture of the shoe room at the US Holocaust Museum that could be displayed if you do not have access). I will read the poem aloud again.

Next, I will ask students to take a handout from their caddy to help them analyze and discuss the poem at their tables.  I'll ask them to discuss the poem and answer the questions together.  I'll also challenge them to take the analysis to the next level by focusing on word choice by noting unfamiliar words, figurative language, etc. and questioning why the author chose those words and images to portray.

We'll review their findings with class discussion of the poem after ample time has passed.

Targeting My Boys
Lesson Planning

There are countless stories out there about young people during the Holocaust.  I chose these two because I knew they would resonate with my male students.  While I can count on my girls to be drawn in by the sheer emotion of the stories, I knew I would need more to really get to my boys. 

In retrospect I am glad I chose these over the many female stories I could have opened with because my boys could not stop talking about it. In the past two days my librarian has commented on how many students have stopped by asking for Holocaust books, and as I look around my classroom and see them laying on student binders - many with male students - I know I have planted a seed.

Note, that should you want to open with the story of a female there are many.  A quick google search will unearth stories and poems about Anne Frank and several lesser known survivors and victims that our students need to know about.  Undoubtedly, we could spend the whole year on nothing else and only scratch the surface. 

3 Wrap Up - 10 minutes

To wrap up class, students will respond in their journal to both the poem and the article from class yesterday "Fighting Hitler".

Abraham Sutzkever's said "As long as I was writing, I would have a weapon against death."

Chose a few phrases or sentences that stood out to you in the poem and explain how you think words could be a "weapon against death." How were Abraham Sutzkever and Ben Kamm alike?

As there is not enough time remaining in class, I will ask students to complete the entry at home and share their thoughts on Edmodo where I have posted the question.