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  • Writer's pictureThis Is Rutherford

UMS Seventh Grade Holocaust Interdisciplinary Unit

Updated: Jul 5, 2019

By Colleen Fencik, Megan Collins and Margaret MacFadyen Doty, UMS teachers

This June, seventh grade students at Union Middle School collaborated on an interdisciplinary unit about the Holocaust. In both their History and English Language Arts classes, students researched a topic, read nonfiction and historical fiction texts, and created projects.

In all of the History classes, the students began with discussions about the Pyramid of Hate and how seemingly small acts of prejudice eventually led to the extermination of six million Jewish people. Once the students understood the historical context that led to the Holocaust, they began cooperative research projects about topics relating to the Holocaust. All students created trifold exhibits on which they included an explanation of their topic as well as artifacts, such as political cartoons, pictures, collages, 3-D displays and more. The displays were incorporated into a ‘museum’ at UMS. Students were then able to participate in a gallery walk and learn more about the Holocaust through their classmates’ exhibits.

Click on the arrow to the right to see a slideshow of the exhibits.

In their English Language Arts classes, students read both fiction and nonfiction texts relating to the World War II and the Holocaust. These texts covered a wide range of perspectives, including those of victims, survivors, rescuers, and members of the resistance. In addition to reading and discussing these texts, students also participated in a read aloud of the children’s book, Erika’s Story by Ruth Van Der Zee. This text tells the true story of a girl who was thrown from a boxcar by her mother as they were traveling to a concentration camp. Students identified the difficult decision made by the unknown mother to save her 3 month old daughter. In the book, Erika compares herself and her people to stars in the sky. As a culminating activity, seventh graders colored six million stars to represent each of the Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Each sheet had 10,000 stars and students colored 600 sheets in remembrance of those lost.

Six million stars to represent Jewish victims of Holocaust

The granddaughter of Holocaust Survivors, Amanda Lanceter, came to speak to the entire 7th grade. As the Director of Curriculum and Instruction at the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in Battery Park City, New York, she had a wealth of knowledge to share. The entire class was spellbound as she shared her grandmother’s harrowing escape from the Nazis. Through the kindness of strangers (and her own ingenuity), Gina survived the Holocaust, always honoring her Father’s last wish - to live and tell their story. After the presentations, all students and teachers were challenged to honor Amanda’s great grandfather’s wish and share Gina’s story with at least one person.

Click the arrow to the right to see the slideshow below.

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