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Lesson Plan

Investigating the Holocaust: A Collaborative Inquiry Project

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Investigating the Holocaust: A Collaborative Inquiry Project

Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Unit
Estimated Time Eight 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Paula Stedman

La Crosse, Wisconsin


National Council of Teachers of English



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From Theory to Practice



In this unit, students explore a variety of resources—texts, images, sounds, photos, and other artifacts—to learn more about the Holocaust. Beginning with journal writings and a picture book to introduce the central issues, the unit focuses on student-centered inquiry. Students explore a range of print and non-print resources through extensive online inquiry activities. Progressing from individual work to a group learning project, the unit culminates in publishing the group's findings in topic-based newspapers.

The lesson includes complete lists of picture books, read-aloud books, reference texts, and online sites and collections that allow teachers to customize the activities to fit the available resources and students' specific research interests.

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Text Resources for Holocaust Group Project: This list of resources will assist students in researching the Holocaust.

Holocaust Online Inquiry: This online resource provides links to Internet resources related to the Holocaust. Each resource also includes a related student activity.

Recommended Holocaust Read-Aloud Texts: This sheet provides a list of books related to the Holocaust. Included are picture books, as well as novels, nonfiction, memoirs, and more.

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This Holocaust inquiry project is based on the idea that as students progress though the inquiry cycle, teachers need to tap a variety of methods to reach all the different learners and their multiple ways of learning about the world. As Harste explains, "we must envision and create curriculum that places inquiry and sign systems . . . at the center of the learning process, rather than in the peripheral position of curricular frills" (3). By asking students to explore texts, images, sounds, photos, and other artifacts, this inquiry project provides students the kind of learning opportunity that leads to more complex literacy skills.

Further Reading

Berthoff, Beth, Kathryn A. Egawa, Jerome C. Harste, Barry T. Hoonan. 2000. Beyond Reading and Writing: Inquiry, Curriculum, and Multiple Ways of Knowing. Urbana, IL: NCTE.

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Busching, B., & Slesinger, B.A. (2002). "It's Our World Too": Socially Responsive Learners in Middle School Language Arts. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English.

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