One Story, Innumerable Losses: Themes in Genocide

Author: Brynn Allison McGinn

School/Organization:

West Philadelphia High School

Year: 2014

Seminar: Teaching the Holocaust: Bearing Witness

Grade Level: 9-12

Keywords: writing, History, witness testimonies, Rwanda, Literature, Holocaust, genocide, close reading

School Subject(s): English, History

One Story, Innumerable Losses: Themes in Genocide is a unit plan that focuses on close readings of genocide related texts and analysis of the themes shared within them. Students will read excerpts from literary nonfiction and nonfiction texts and view film clips and eyewitness testimonies as they examine several themes: disbelief and inability to face reality, separation from and loss of family, and the role of bystanders. After multiple close readings (or viewings) of each text and intense class discussions, students will synthesize their observations from each set of themed texts through writing and reflecting on questions about human nature, dealing with death, and making choices as an individual. The final part of the unit will ask students to become a witness to history by creating and sharing a personal narrative of a Holocaust survivor.

Download Unit: McGinn-Brynn-unit.pdf

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Loading...

Full Unit Text
Rationale

Genocide Defined

 

When beginning to teach about genocide, it is important for students to understand the difference between genocide and the unfortunate, but typical loss of life connected with war and conflict. The act of genocide has likely been in existence for a long as man has been a part of groups of men, but the term for targeted mass killings did not come into use until 1944. Ralph Lemkin, a Polish Jew and lawyer, joined the Greek word genos, meaning “race” or tribe, with the Latin word cide, meaning “killing,” to create a term to describe the horrors of the Holocaust and the process by which one group of people becomes killers of another group of people.[i] The next year, in 1945 at the International Military Tribunal held in Nuremberg, Germany, the term genocide was included in the indictment of top Nazis charged with “crimes against humanity.”[ii]

 

When the United Nations Convention on Genocide met in 1948 after the end of World War II and the Holocaust, they expanded upon Lemkin’s definition. In a world still struggling to understand the death of six million Jews and near annihilation of the prosperous Jewish communities in Germany and Eastern Europe, the members of the Convention defined genocide in this way:

 

In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed    with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national ethnic, racial, or religious     group, as such:

  • Killing members of the group.
  • Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group.
  • Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.
  • Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group.
  • Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.[iii]

 

Others have broadened this definition. Frank Chalk and Kurt Jonassohn of the Montreal Institute of Genocide Studies use the following definition: “Genocide is a form of one-sided mass killing in which a state or other authority intends to destroy a group, as that group and its membership in it are defined by the perpetrator.”[iv] This definition is consistent with that developed by the United Nations by emphasizing the intent behind the act of genocide, but enlarges the identification of victim groups, as the group may not be a group of people with a shared national ethnic, racial, or religious identity, but only a group by the perpetrator’s definition.

 

Defining genocide has not made it any easier to distinguish those acts from other atrocities such as massacres, acts of war, and human rights violations. Neither has a creation of a definition made it any easier to predict future genocide. Jonassohn wrote, “Until we can predict when and where a genocide will occur, we cannot set up an early warning system. But we can certainly recognize a genocide once it is started…Mass killing does not ever occur without some preliminaries that can be used to recognize when the process of genocide is unfolding.”[v] These preliminaries may include official government statements about “ethnic cleansing” or removing a certain group from the country, and the use of propaganda portraying the group in question as inferior. These preliminaries are typically followed by mass arrests, forced marches, deportations to labor camps, and mass killings. The most indicative sign of the beginnings of genocide, according to Jonassohn, are the appearance of refugees, because “people do not leave their homes without their possessions, their families, and their friends unless they have genuine reasons to fear for their survival.”[vi]

 

Timeline of Genocide Worldwide

 

When beginning to teach about genocide, students should also know that genocide is not and has not been limited to any one type of person, race, or religion. Genocide knows no boundaries of countries or time. Below is a timeline that highlights some of the genocide committed throughout history. By no means should this timeline be considered an exhaustive list of all events classified as genocide.

 

884 – 860 BC – The Assyrians under King Ashurnasirpal II used mass murder as a part of their method of conquering others.[vii]

 

1095 BCE – Pope Urban II announced the First Crusade which called for dutiful Christians to rescue the Holy Lands from the infidels, the Non-Christian Arabs living in Palestine, including Muslims and Jews.[viii]

 

Late 1100s – early 1200s – The Roman Catholic church carried out crusades in Europe against heretics, any Christians who held beliefs that contradicted the official church teachings.[ix]

 

Late 1400s – The Spanish Inquisition, led by Grand Inquisitor Tomás de Torquemada, ended the previous religious tolerance in Spain. Prisoners were tortured until they confessed to heresy, witchcraft, or other dark crimes and were then burned at the stake.[x]

 

1830 – While the war against the Native Americans started with the settling of New America by the Europeans, the period of the Trail of Tears and the systematic removal of Native Americans began when President Andrew Jackson signed into effect the Indian Removal Act.[xi]

 

1884 – In Germany occupied Namibia, white settlers stole land from the native Herero and Nama tribes, used the native people for slave labor, and forced the Herero people into the desert when they tried to resist.[xii]

1915 – In the Ottoman Empire, the Turkish police rounded up thousands from the Armenian community, who were all forced to march toward an unknown destination. Two million Armenians lived in the Ottoman Empire; less than a hundred thousand survived after 1920.[xiii]

 

1932 – 1933 – Threatened by possible revolution in Ukraine, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin allowed hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians to starve to death one winter through control of land and crops.[xiv]

 

1933 – Once Adolph Hitler was elected chancellor of Germany, he openly announced his hatred of the Jewish race. By the end of the Holocaust, 65 to 75 percent of all European Jews were dead along with millions of Poles, Russians, Gypsies, political and religious dissenters, handicapped, homosexuals, and any other groups deemed “undesirable.”[xv]

 

1975 – The Khmer Rouge controlled Cambodia, where whole groups of “unnecessary people” or those who posed a threat to their power were killed. Of seven and a half million people in Cambodia, two to three million perished during the four years of the Khmer Rouge.[xvi]

 

1991 – After the collapse of the government, the six clan families that once controlled Somalia began to reassert their power and renew old hatred. Fighting between clans resulted in the deaths of thousands and the starvation of one fourth of the country.[xvii]

 

1992 –A civil war broke out in one province of Yugoslavia, Bosnia, as three major ethnic groups: the Serbs, Coats, and Muslims, struggled for power. In April of 1992, Serbs shelled the city of Sarajevo for five hundred days, leaving 9,300 killed or missing and 54,400 wounded.[xviii]

 

1994 – The two major tribes of Rwanda, the Hutu and the Tutsi, despite sharing the same race, religion, culture, and language, had a history of ethnic hatred. Hutus killed almost one million Tutsis within one hundred days of the Rwandan president’s death in April 1994.[xix]

 

2003 – In the Darfur region of Sudan, in February 2003, civilian militias inflicted death and destruction on the entire African population. By 2008, an estimated 300,000 people were killed and more than 2.5 million were driven from their homes.[xx]

 

Themes in Genocide

 

Regardless of when or where genocide takes place, there are common themes that appear in stories of genocide, such as discrimination and dehumanization, disbelief and inability to face reality, separation from and loss of family, loss of innocence, the role of bystanders, and the difficulties of telling the story. This unit will focus on the following three themes: disbelief and inability to face reality, separation from and loss of family, and the role of bystanders. While genocides should never be compared in terms of which caused the greatest losses of human life or which was most devastating to a group of people, the unit will compare the genocide of the Holocaust and Rwanda to examine their stories for these common themes.

[i] Linda Jacobs Altman, Genocide: The Systematic Killing of a People (Springfield, NJ: Enslow, 1995) 12.

[ii] “What is Genocide?,” 10 June 2013, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 19 Mar. 2014.

<http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007043>.

[iii] “Genocide, Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of – – Prevent Genocide International,” Prevent Genocide International, 20 Mar. 2014. <http://www.preventgenocide.org/law/convention/text.htm>

[iv] Kurt Jonassohn. “Prevention Without Prediction.” Holocaust and Genocide Studies 7 (1993) 2.

[v] Jonassohn, 3.

[vi] Jonassohn, 4.

[vii] Altman, 14.

[viii] Altman, 14 – 16.

[ix] Altman, 16.

[x] Altman, 16 – 18.

[xi] Altman, 20 – 31.

[xii] Altman, 102 – 104.

[xiii] Altman, 32 – 42.

[xiv] Altman 43 – 50.

[xv] Altman, 51 – 70.

[xvi] Altman, 71 – 81.

[xvii] Altman, 88 – 90.

[xviii] Altman, 82 – 88.

[xix] Altman, 90 – 94.

[xx] Altman, 95 – 102.

Objectives

Students will be able to…

  • analyze various accounts of a subject told in different mediums determining which details are emphasized in each account in order to compare themes in stories of genocide.
  • understand the Holocaust and the Rwandan genocide as significant events in history that continue to have universal implications.
  • recognize the complexity of individual choices and dilemmas during genocide.
  • initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions of the close readings of texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
  • write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.

Strategies

Close reading, of both printed text and video, is the primary teaching and learning strategy employed in this unit. As Nancy Boyle states, “close reading means reading to uncover layers of meaning that lead to deep comprehension.”[i] The suggested readings and film clips in this unit are all short in length and purposefully so: to allow for multiple close readings. Repeated reading is necessary for students to understand what the speaker/narrator is telling them, to analyze how the speaker/narrator plays with language to add meaning, and to consider how this text (from this point forward, text is used to mean both printed text and video) connects to and interacts with the themes of other texts. Each close reading should also have a specific purpose and task to help guide students.

 

When engaging students in a close reading, allow students to do a first reading or viewing (if possible) independently and record their initial thoughts and reactions. Giving the students an opportunity to interact with the text independently first will allow them time to formulate their own interpretations before sharing with others. This independent reading or viewing also allows students the privacy to deal with any shock or grief they may feel in response to the materials.

 

Perform a second close reading in class. Printed text should be read aloud by a fluent reader (teacher or student). Following this second reading, pose discussion questions to the class that force students to refer back to the text and cite specific evidence. Discussion questions are provided with each suggested text. Have multiple students respond to each question through “question chaining:” by asking them if they agree or disagree with another student, to find additional evidence in the text to support ideas, or to elaborate upon another student’s response. Additional close reading questions are provided in the Appendix.

 

A final close reading is to be again completed independently by the students. While after the first close reading, students are asked to write and respond informally, after the final close reading, students should write and respond to a more formal prompt that asks them to reflect on or synthesize points made during the class discussion.

 

During class discussions, I prefer to seat my students and myself in a circle of chairs with no furniture (desks, tables, etc.) serving as physical barriers between us. A “U” shape can be used for viewing video clips and then closed into a circle. A circle allows all students to be seen and heard equally. As the teacher, joining the circle places you in this equal position for the discussion. Students are asked to bring a provided copy of the printed text with them to the circle so they can refer back to the text, but no other distractions (writing utensils, electronics, etc.) should be allowed. You want students to be fully focused while speaking and listening to each other. When it is time for students to write, they break up the circle and return to their desks/tables. If you wish to award students points for participating in discussion, you may want to create a quick seating chart of the circle. I use check marks for when a student participates, a plus sign if a comment is especially insightful or shows that the student was listening to others, and a minus sign if a comment is off topic or inappropriate. If and when off topic or inappropriate comments occur, I quickly redirect the discussion and further address the issue with the offending student at a later time. I may also jot down notes on questions that are sparked by the discussion to use for students’ formal writing assignments.

 

Throughout the unit, I ask students to complete all reactions, responses, and formal writing assignments in one notebook or journal so that they and I can refer back to previous assignments and track their progression of thoughts throughout the unit.

[i] Nancy Boyle, “Closing in on Close Reading,” Educational Leadership 70 (2012): 36-41.

Classroom Activities

Lesson 1: Introduction to Genocide (One class period)

 

Overview: This lesson is designed to introduce students to the meaning of the term genocide and to begin to examine the similarities in genocide across the globe.

 

Objective: Students will be able to cite strong and thorough textual evidence in order to synthesize information about genocide.

 

Do Now: Students will be asked to create a word web for “genocide.” This can be done individually in students’ journals and then shared on a white board, SmartBoard, or chart paper.

 

Direct Instruction: Students will be provided with the definition of genocide created by the United Nations Convention on Genocide (See Appendix for Student Handout 1). The teacher will define any necessary terms, such as “national” and “ethnical” groups.

 

Guided Practice: Teacher and students will discuss how this definition connects to their own ideas about genocide from the “Do Now.”

 

Independent Practice: Students will read short testimonies and plot the location of each on a world map. After completing the mapping, students will reflect on general observations about genocide and any commonalties identified (See Appendix for Student Handout 2).

 

Homework: Students will complete a case study of a selected example of genocide, such as Jews (by Germans in World War II), Armenians (by the Turks, 1894-96 & 1915-16), Chileans (by the government of Augusto Pinochet, 1973- 1990), Cambodians (by the Khmer Rouge, 1975-1979), Tutsis (by the Hutus in Rwanda, 1994), Muslims in the Balkans (by Serbs, 1990s), or East Timor (by the Indonesian military, 1975-1990s). Students will collect their information using a graphic organizer (See Appendix for Student Handout 3). Students may be asked to summarize and share their findings at the start of the next class period.

 

Lesson 2: Theme 1 – Disbelief & Inability to Face Reality (four – eight class periods)

 

Overview: The texts included in this lesson include excerpts from nonfiction and literary nonfiction, video testimonies, and clips from films. The length of this lesson will vary depending on the time spent discussing each text. Suggested discussion questions are listed with each suggested text. Texts may be omitted or other texts added or substituted to fit the needs and age/maturity level of a class.

 

Objective: Students will be able to analyze various accounts of a subject told in different mediums determining which details are emphasized in each account in order to compare themes in stories of genocide.

 

Do Now: Imagine that a neighbor comes to you and tells you that last night the police came and rounded up anyone taller than 5’10.” He is not sure where the police took them, but he could hear the cries of families being separated and shots ringing out in the distance. Would you believe your neighbor? What would you need to see or hear to believe his story?

 

Direct Instruction: Teacher will set expectations for class discussion.

 

Guided Practice: Class discussion of selected texts.

 

Text 1: An excerpt from “A Problem From Hell” by Samantha Power, pages 23 – 25

 

Discussion Questions:

  • Describe Raphael Lemkin’s experiences in the days after Germany invades Poland.
  • How does the baker who shelters Lemkin in Soviet-occupied Poland react to Hitler’s brutality toward the Jews?
  • Why doesn’t the baker believe that Hitler will destroy the Jews completely?
  • What does Lemkin mean when he says “he [the baker] could not believe the reality of [Hitler’s intent] because it was so much against nature, against logic, against life itself, and against the warm smell of bread in his house, against his poor but comfortable bed…”[i]
  • How is the response of Lemkin’s family’s similar to the baker’s response?
  • Do you think these responses were common or uncommon during this time period? Is it human nature to react this way to unknown situations, to want to focus on the positives and minimize the negatives?
  • If you were Lemkin would you have acted differently toward the baker and your own family? Would you have tried harder to convince people of Hitler’s evil?

 

Text 2: An excerpt from “Night” by Elie Wiesel, pages 16 – 21

 

Discussion Questions:

  • Describe the conditions of the Jews as they wait for the transport out of the ghetto.
  • As people are waiting for the transport out of the ghetto, Elie says, “…in the afternoon came the signal to leave. There was joy, yes, joy. People must have thought there could be no greater torment in God’s hell than that of being stranded here…”[ii] Why are they feeling joy? Where is the transport taking them? Will it be worse than what they are experiencing now? Why don’t they think it will be worse?
  • How do people react to being moved from the large ghetto to the small ghetto?
  • Why don’t Elie and his older sisters go with Maria, their former maid?
  • Why doesn’t Elie’s father force them to go?
  • What are the different theories about why they are being deported? Give at least three examples.
  • As Elie and his family walk to the train station he says, “The town seemed deserted. But behind the shutters, our friends of yesterday were probably waiting for the moment when they could loot our homes.”[iii] Do these “friends of yesterday know what is going to happen to the Jews? Why didn’t they try to stop it? What actions could they have taken?
  • Do you think it is part of human nature to look away from suffering as long as it doesn’t affect you or the people you care about?

 

Text 3: Clip from “The Pianist,” directed by Roman Polanski (start at 42:16 – stop at 44:50)

 

Discussion Questions:

  • Where does this scene take place?
  • Why are these Jews gathered here?
  • What has already happened to these Jews?
  • Where are the Jews told they are going?
  • Summarize the discussion of the three old men.
  • Why don’t or won’t these men believe that they might be killed?
  • How would this scene be different if more people realized what was going to happen to them?

 

Text 4: Video testimony from Vladka Meed, from http://iwitness.usc.edu, Topic: Ghetto Life (length 3:24)

 

Discussion Questions:

  • What kind of illegal activities did Vladka participate in while living in the ghetto?
  • How did the Jews attempt to help each other?
  • Despite the starvation and misery of the ghetto, Vladka says, “they thought, they hoped this will pass. It is a time that will not remain forever.” Do you think this kind of hope was harmful or hurtful to the Jews of the Warsaw ghetto?
  • If Vladka had not been hoping for the best, would she have prepared for the worst?

 

Text 5: An excerpt from “A Problem From Hell” by Samantha Power, pages 31 – 34

 

Discussion Questions:

  • Summarize what is described in the Bund report on pages 31 and 32.
  • What actions are called for by the authors of the Bund report?
  • Summarize the cable sent by Ignacy Schwarzbart to the World Jewish Congress after examining documents Jan Karski collected in the Warsaw ghetto and Belzec, a Nazi death camp.
  • What does Leon Feiner (of the Bund in Warsaw) urge Jan Karski to tell Jewish leaders to do?
  • When Jan Karski travels to the United States and meets with Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, a Jewish American, how does Frankfurter respond to him? Was this a usual or unusual reaction of Jewish leaders outside of Nazi-occupied territory?
  • Why do you think it was so difficult for people to believe the reports about what was happening? Would you have found it difficult to believe?

 

Text 6: Clip from “Schindler’s List,” directed by Steven Spielberg (start at 1:56:57 – stop at 1:58:45)

 

Discussion Questions:

  • Where does this scene take place?
  • Why are these Jewish women here? Why are there only women?
  • What have these women already been through?
  • Summarize the story told by one of the women to the other women.
  • Why don’t they believe her story? Why do they think the story is ridiculous?
  • Is it that they can’t or don’t want to believe her?
  • What would it take for the other women to believe her story?

 

Text 7: Video testimony from Romeo Dallaire, from http://iwitness.usc.edu, Topic: Rwandan Tutsi Genocide (Clips #90 – #95)

 

Discussion Questions:

  • Who was targeted in the Rwandan genocide?
  • How were targeted individuals identified?
  • What happened to targeted individuals?
  • How many people tried to flee Rwanda?
  • What happened to the international community in Rwanda?
  • What was left of Dallaire’s UN force? What other group remained in Rwanda?
  • Why does Dallaire struggle at first with identifying the events in Rwanda as genocide?
  • How many people were being killed each day in Rwanda?

 

Text 8: Clip from Hotel Rwanda, directed by Terry George (start at 12:29 – stop at 23:00)

 

Discussion Questions:

  • What is the conflict between the Hutus and the Tutsis?
  • Why do you think Paul is reluctant to tell the journalist if he is Hutu or Tutsi?
  • What is the difference between the Hutu woman and the Tutsi woman sitting at the bar with the journalists?
  • When Paul’s brother-in-law and his wife visit the hotel, of what do they warn Paul?
  • Why doesn’t Paul believe his brother-in-law?
  • What does Paul see as he is driving home that same night?
  • What does Paul find when he arrives home?
  • What news do Paul’s neighbors and family share with him?
  • What happens to Paul’s son Roger?
  • What does Paul hear on the radio the next morning?

 

Independent Practice: Have students synthesize their knowledge from their readings and class discussions by responding to one or several of the following writing prompts. Ask students to provide evidence from the texts to support their responses.

 

Writing Prompts:

  • Why is it so difficult for people to believe that things will get worse and not better?
  • Why do people have trouble believing that genocide is occurring or has occurred?
  • Is it a part of human nature to believe in good and deny belief in evil?
  • What proof or evidence do people need to recognize the genocide is occurring?

 

Homework: Before each class discussion, have students pre-read the assigned text(s). You can also create a class account on iwitness.usc.edu and assign other video testimony for students to watch, create video projects, or allow students to search for their own video testimony to address the theme of disbelief & inability to face reality.

 

Lesson 3: Theme 2 – Separation From & Loss of Family (four – eight class periods)

 

Overview: As with the previous themed texts, the texts included in this lesson include excerpts from nonfiction and literary nonfiction, video testimonies, and clips from films. The length of this lesson will vary depending on the time spent discussing each text. Suggested discussion questions are listed with each suggested text. Texts may be omitted or other texts added or substituted to fit the needs and age/maturity level of a class. Some of the video testimony in this section is very short and you may want to allow students to watch each at least twice before beginning discussion.

 

Objective: Students will be able to analyze various accounts of a subject told in different mediums determining which details are emphasized in each account in order to compare themes in stories of genocide.

 

Do Now: Describe a time when you were separated from your family or a close family member. Why were you separated? For how long were you separated? What feelings did you experience as a result of this separation? How did the experience affect you? Now imagine you have been separated from your family and do not know where they have gone or when you will see them again. How would that change your experience? How would your feelings be different?

OR

Have you experienced the death of someone close to you? Who was this individual? What was your relationship like with him/her? What feelings did you experience as a result of his/her death? How did his/her death affect or change you? Now imagine that everyone you hold dear is dead or their fates are unknown to you. What feelings would you experience? How would this change or affect you?

 

Direct Instruction: Teacher will set expectations for class discussion.

 

Guided Practice: Class discussion of selected texts.

 

Text 1: Video testimony from Kristine Keren, from http://iwitness.usc.edu, Topic: Family (length 1:04)

 

Discussion Questions:

  • Summarize Kristine’s story about her grandmother.
  • How does Kristine react to her own story?
  • Why does she react this way to an event that happened such a long time ago?
  • Do you have any stories or memories that carry powerful emotions for you? Do you think those feelings will fade over time or remain just as strong?

 

Text 2: Video testimony from George Shainfarber, from http://iwitness.usc.edu, Topic: Family (length 1:49)

 

Discussion Questions:

  • Who was the first victim in George’s family? How old was he? Why do you think he was the first to die?
  • Who was the second victim in George’s family? How old was he? Why do you think he was the second to die?
  • Based on George’s experiences, what can you conclude about the ages of survivors of the Holocaust?
  • George says his uncle “had something to do. He twisted his ankle and he died.” Can you die from a twisted ankle? What do you think really happened to his uncle?
  • Why do you think George says the names of his deceased family members?
  • How do other families handle the food rations? How does George’s family handle them?

 

Text 3: An excerpt from “Night” by Elie Wiesel, pages 29 – 34

 

Discussion Questions:

  • What happens to Elie’s family when they arrive at Birkenau (a part of Auschwitz)?
  • Elie says, “I didn’t know that this was the moment in time and the place where I was leaving my mother and Tzipora forever.”[iv] What happens to his mother and Tzipora, his youngest sister?
  • What advice are Elie and his father given by another inmate about their ages?
  • Even after being told about the chimney and the flames, the older men beg their sons not to revolt and attack the guards. The older men say, “‘We mustn’t give up hope, even now as the sword hangs over our heads. So taught our sages…’”[v] Why do the older men say this to their sons?
  • What does Elie witness as he and his father walk left toward the crematorium?
  • As Elie and his father think they are walking to the crematorium, Elie’s father says “‘What a shame, a shame you did not go with your mother…I saw many children your age go with their mothers…’”[vi] What would have happened to Elie if he had gone with his mother? What happened to most of the young children?
  • What happens to Elie and his father as they approach the pit?

 

Text 4: Video testimony from Itka Zygmuntowicz, from http://iwitness.usc.edu, Topic: Family (length 0:42)

 

Discussion Questions:

  • What happens to Itka’s younger brother and sister?
  • What decision does Itka’s mother make? Do you think this was a difficult decision for her? Do you think she knew the consequences of her decision?
  • Itka’s mother tells her “don’t become bitter, don’t let them destroy you.” Do you think this was easy or difficult advice to follow?
  • What happens to Itka’s family after that?

 

Text 5: Video testimony from George Gottlieb, from http://iwitness.usc.edu, Topic: Family (length 3:12)

 

Discussion Questions:

  • George describes the SS guard as “quite nice” at the beginning of his testimony. Why is this a strange descriptor?
  • What did the SS guard give to George and his brother? What did he allow them to do?
  • Does the SS guard turn out to be “quite nice?” How could the guard be “nice” and yet be responsible for imprisoning and killing Jews?
  • Why does George say, “we didn’t find my mother?”
  • What happened when George and his brother found their mother?
  • How does George react to his own story?
  • Why does he react this way to an event that happened such a long time ago?
  • Do you have any stories or memories that carry powerful emotions for you? Do you think those feelings will fade over time or remain just as strong?

 

Text 6: An excerpt from “The Story of a Life” by Aharon Appelfeld, pages 62 – 64

 

Discussion Questions:

  • Why is Aharon in the forest?
  • Where are his parents? Why is he waiting for them?
  • Despite the “new omens” and “new paths,” what happens?
  • What feelings does Aharon experience while in the forest waiting for his parents?
  • Aharon says, “It was clear to me that after my death, I would no longer be lost. No longer would any omens mislead me, and there would be only one path that would lead me directly to my parents.”[vii] What is the “one path” of which Aharon speaks? What is he (indirectly) acknowledging has happened to his parents?
  • What does Aharon describe seeing one day at the edge of the forest?
  • Is the scene he describes real? Or is he just describing a dream? What elements suggest that this might not be real?

 

Text 7: An excerpt from “A Problem From Hell,” by Samantha Power, page 114

 

Discussion Questions:

  • Why did some families have to make decisions about separating or staying together during the Rwandan genocide?
  • What happened to the Hutu woman who stayed with her Tutsi husband?
  • What happened to her sister who hoped to save her children’s lives? How do you think this woman was affected by these events?
  • Which choice would you have made if you were one of these Hutu women? Could you have left your loved ones behind? Would you have risked your life to try to escape?

 

Text 8: Video testimony from Kizito Kalima, Tutsi Survivor, from http://iwitness.usc.edu,  (Clip #5 – #9, #101-#105, #127)

 

Discussion Questions:

  • How many of Kizito’s siblings survive the Rwandan genocide?
  • What happens to his father? Why is he killed?
  • How does Kizito find out about his father’s death? How does he react?
  • What happens to his mother?
  • What difficulties does Kizito have as he is talking about his mother?
  • How was Kizito discovered when he was hiding in the marshes?
  • What convinced the soldiers not to kill him immediately?
  • What happens to Kizito’s extended family?
  • What difficulties does Kizito have as he is talking about his mother again and his extended family?
  • Describe Kizito’s mother’s behavior in the last moments that he saw her. What does this show about her?
  • How does Kizito know for sure that his mother was killed?

 

Independent Practice: Have students synthesize their knowledge from their readings and class discussions by responding to one or several of the following writing prompts. Ask students to provide evidence from the texts to support their responses.

 

Writing Prompts:

  • Why do people struggle to tell the stories of the loss of their loved ones?
  • Why do the memories of the loss or death of family members remain so strong, so emotional even after much time has passed?
  • When faced with the choice of surviving or risking your life to be with loved ones, what should be done? Why?
  • Why are names emphasized when telling the stories of the dead? What is the significance?

 

Homework: Before each class discussion, have students pre-read the assigned text(s). You can also create a class account on iwitness.usc.edu and assign other video testimony for students to watch, create video projects, or allow students to search for their own video testimony to address the theme of separation from and loss of family.

 

Lesson 4: Theme 3 – The Role of Bystanders (three – seven class periods)

 

Overview: As with the previous themed texts, the texts included in this lesson include excerpts from nonfiction and literary nonfiction, video testimonies, and clips from films. The length of this lesson will vary depending on the time spent discussing each text. Suggested discussion questions are listed with each suggested text. Texts may be omitted or other texts added or substituted to fit the needs and age/maturity level of a class. Some of the video testimony in this section is very short and you may want to allow students to watch at least twice before beginning discussion.

 

Objective: Students will be able to analyze various accounts of a subject told in different mediums determining which details are emphasized in each account in order to compare themes in stories of genocide.

 

Do Now: Describe your circle of obligation. Who and/or what do you think about when you make decisions? How do these factors influence you? What factors do not influence you?

 

Direct Instruction: Teacher will set expectations for class discussion.

 

Guided Practice: Class discussion of selected texts.

 

Text 1: Clip of “The Bad Samaritan Part 1 of 2,” a part of CBS’s 60 Minutes interview with David Cash, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KqTdXOQmXrc (length 7:35)

 

Discussion Questions:

  • What is a “good Samaritan?”
  • Why is David Cash accused of being a “bad Samaritan?”
  • How does David respond to these accusations?
  • Is David just as guilty as his friend Jeremy?
  • What would David’s circle of obligation look like?
  • What factors influenced his decision-making? What factors did not?
  • Did David have other options? What could he have done differently?
  • What do you think you would have done in David’s place?

 

Text 2: “First They Came For…” by Pastor Martin Niemöller

 

Discussion Questions:

  • Who are the “they” of whom Niemöller writes?
  • What does he mean when he says, “came for?”
  • Why does he repeat the phrase, “Then they came for…?”
  • What effect does the repetition of this phrase have on the listener?
  • What other groups did the Nazis “come for” before and during WWII?
  • Who is the narrator of Niemöller’s poem supposed to be?
  • Is the narrator just as guilty as the “they” taking people away?
  • What would the narrator’s circle of obligation look like?
  • What factors influenced his decision-making? What factors did not?
  • What does he mean by, “I didn’t speak up”? What are some ways he could have “spoken up?”

 

Text 3: Reading 1: What Did People Know?, from Facing History and Ourselves: Bystanders and Rescuers, pages 364 – 367

 

Discussion Questions:

  • Raul Hilberg in The Destruction of the European Jews states that many had the opportunity to know about the killings, specifically the railroad employees and clerical workers who manned and organized the trains used to transport Jews to death camps. What other occupations in Germany would have had the opportunity to know about the killings?
  • Give two examples of direct evidence that Jews were being killed with which working professionals (not SS or soldiers) would have come in contact.
  • Walter Stier, the person responsible for “special trains,” says “we” didn’t know who was on the trains; it could have been “Jews, or criminals, or similar people.”[viii] Why does he say “we” instead of “I”? Why does he group Jews and criminals together as “similar people”? What does this reveal about Stier?
  • When Stier says, “You couldn’t talk about that. Unless you were tired of life, it was best not to mention that,”[ix] what does he mean?
  • Stier denies knowledge of Treblinka as an extermination camp. After reading Hilberg’s description of how the trains were financed, do you believe him?
  • How much did people like Stier know?
  • How much of their lack of knowledge was by their own chosen ignorance?
  • Why didn’t the railroad employees, clerical workers, or other groups of professionals speak up about what was happening to the Jews? If they had spoken up, how might events have been different?
  • What are some ways they could have “spoken up?”
  • What would their “circle of obligation” look like?
  • What factors influenced their decision-making? What factors did not?

 

Text 4: Reading 3: Bystanders at Mauthausen, from Facing History and Ourselves: Bystanders and Rescuers, pages 370 – 372

 

Discussion Questions:

  • According to Professor Ervin Staub, what role can bystanders play in shaping the outcome of events?
  • If this is true, how can/could bystanders affect the outcome of genocide?
  • Describe what Carl and his family witness at Castle Hartheim.
  • While Carl and his family might have suspected what was taking place inside Castle Hartheim, Sister Felicitas and her family had direct knowledge of the activity. What did they do with that knowledge? What could they have done with this knowledge?
  • Sister Felicitas says, “The frightful facts which the people of the vicinity had to experience at first hand, and the terrible stench of the burning gases, robbed them of speech.”[x]Does the horror felt by witnesses excuse their lack of speech? Are there some things that are too terrible to speak of and should be left unspoken?
  • Why do the local residents believe Christopher Wirth, the director of the operation at Castle Hartheim, when he explains what is going on there?
  • What could the local residents have done differently? How could they have “spoken up?”
  • What would their “circle of obligation” look like?
  • What factors influenced their decision-making? What factors did not?

 

Text 5: Reading 5: From Bystanders to Resisters, from Facing History and Ourselves: Bystanders and Rescuers, pages 370 – 372

 

Discussion Questions:

  • Hans Scholl, Sophie Scholl, and Christopher Probst formed a resistance group called White Rose. In a leaflet they published, they asked, “Why do the German people react in such an apathetic way to these revolting and inhuman crimes?”.[xi] What does it mean to be “apathetic?”
  • What happens to the Scholls and Probst for challenging Germans’ apathy?
  • Despite the risks, why did the Scholls and Probst become resisters instead of remaining bystanders?
  • At their trial, Sophie said, “Somebody, after all, had to make a start. What we wrote and said is also believed by many others. They just don’t dare to express themselves as we did.”[xii] What did she help to start? Did others share their belief?
  • Helmuth von Moltke helps to distribute the White Rose’s leaflets. Give examples from letters to his wife that show his shift from bystander to resister.
  • What happens to Moltke as a result of his participation in resistance?

 

Text 6: Video testimony from Carl Wilkens, Rescuer and Aid Provider, Rwandan Tutsi Genocide, from http://iwitness.usc.edu, (Clip #126-133, #137 – 143)

 

Discussion Questions:

  • Why does Carl decide to stay in Rwanda?
  • When his family evacuates to Kenya, how long does he predict the conflict in Rwanda last?
  • What examples of “selflessness” does Carl give? How does he react as he tells that story?
  • Who was living with Carl during this time period?
  • What were living conditions like then?
  • How does Carl help his neighbors?
  • At what points did Carl feel afraid?
  • What risks did Carl take in staying in Rwanda and harboring Tutsis in his home?
  • What would Carl’s circle of obligation look like?
  • What factors influenced his decision-making? What factors did not?
  • Is there more that Carl could have done to help others? At what risk to himself?

 

Text 7: Clip from Hotel Rwanda, directed by Terry George (start 8:00 – stop 12:26)

 

Discussion Questions:

  • Describe Paul’s interactions with his neighbors as he drives down the street.
  • Describe Paul’s family.
  • What do Paul and his wife see outside when their son Roger tells them there are soldiers in the street?
  • How does Paul’s wife react?
  • How does Paul react?
  • What does Paul give as his reasons for not wanting to help his neighbor Victor?
  • What would Paul’s circle of obligation look like?
  • What factors influenced his decision-making? What factors did not?
  • Did Paul have other options? What could he have done differently?

 

Independent Practice: Have students synthesize their knowledge from their readings and class discussions by responding to one or several of the following writing prompts. Ask students to provide evidence from the texts to support their responses.

 

Writing Prompts:

  • If you a bystander, are you also responsible for what happens? How much so or not so? Are you just as guilty as those committing evil or genocide?
  • What are ways that people can “speak up” when everyday tragedies occur?
  • Does one’s “circle of obligation” change when others’ lives are in danger? And when one’s loved ones or one’s own life is in danger?

 

Homework: Before each class discussion, have students pre-read the assigned text(s). You can also create a class account on iwitness.usc.edu and assign other video testimony for students to watch, create video projects, or allow students to search for their own video testimony to address the theme of bystanders.

 

Lesson 5: Culminating Project

 

As a final activity, students will become “witnesses” to history through the Holocaust Awareness Museum and Education Center’s Witness to History Project. As described on the Museum’s website:

 

The Witness To History Project is designed to further the message and lessons of the Holocaust by direct interaction between students or interested adults and Holocaust survivors. Participants “adopt” a survivor by learning his or her unique account of via listening to the survivor tell his/her story, asking questions, writing a biography, reviewing a videotape, and memorizing and re-telling the story to others. Ultimately, the participant will have the lifelong job of educating others about the Holocaust by sharing this personal narrative, an imperative task now that our survivors are aging and in failing health.[xiii]

 

Participation in the project will require that students participate in one presentation by a Holocaust survivor, which will include time for a question and answer session, as well as view an audio or videotape of the same survivor’s testimony. Students will then write a biography (10-12 double spaced pages) about the survivor, which will utilize the historical details provided by the Holocaust Awareness Museum and include a paragraph explaining why it is important to continue to share this story with others. The biography will be presented to a member of the Holocaust Awareness Museum to verify testimonial and historical accuracy. Finally, the survivor’s story will be presented to other groups (a suggested number of 50 people). This may be within the school, at other schools, or for other educational or community organizations. While presenting, students may use PowerPoint presentations provided by the Holocaust Awareness Museum about that specific survivor as a biographical guide and visual aid.

[i] Samantha Power, A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide,  (New York: Basic, 2002) 24 – 25.

[ii] Elie Wiesel and Marion Wiesel, Night, (New York, NY: Hill and Wang, a Division of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006) 16.

[iii] Wiesel, 22.

[iv] Wiesel, 29.

[v] Wiesel, 31.

[vi] Wiesel, 33.

[vii] Aron Appelfeld, The Story of a Life, (New York: Random House, Inc., 2004) 63.

[viii] Facing History and Ourselves: Holocaust and Human Behavior, (Brookline, Massachusetts: Facing History and Ourselves) 365.

[ix] Facing History, 365.

[x] Facing History, 371.

[xi] Facing History, 373.

[xii] Facing History, 373.

[xiii] “Witness to History Project,” Holocaust Awareness Museum and Education Center, 22 Mar. 2014. <http://www.holocaustawarenessmuseum.org/content/witness-to-history-project>.

Annotated Bibliography

Altman, Linda Jacobs. Genocide: The Systematic Killing of a People. Springfield, NJ:      Enslow, 1995. Print.

A reference guide to the history and social impact of the genocide. Could be used to enhance teacher knowledge or for student research of examples of genocide throughout history.

 

Apelfeld, Aharon, and Aloma Halter. The Story of a Life. New York: Schocken, 2004.      Print.

Literary non-fiction (for advanced readers) describing Ahron Apelfeld’s experiences before the war and after escaping the camps, which could be read in its entirety or just selected excerpts.

 

Deng, Alephonsion, Benson Deng, Benjamin Ajak, and Judy Bernstein. They Poured        Fire on Us from the Sky: The True Story of Three Lost Boys from Sudan. New    York: Public Affairs, 2005. Print.

This memoir of three boys from Sudan tracks their journey from their village to refugee camps and eventually to the United States. Appropriate for high school readers and could be used as a modern day example of genocide to compare to the themes of stories of the Holocaust.

 

Facing History and Ourselves: Holocaust and Human Behavior. Brookline,           Massachusetts: Facing History and Ourselves). Print.

This resource book is available for download online as well as in print. Other extensive resources related to genocide are available online at https://www.facinghistory.org.

 

Frank, Anne, Otto Frank, Mirjam Pressler, and Susan Massotty. Anne Frank: The Diary   of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition. New York: Doubleday, 1995. Print.

The diary of a young girl in hiding with her family during the Holocaust, which could be read in its entirety or just selected excerpts. Appropriate for middle school or high school readers.

 

“Genocide, Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of – – Prevent       Genocide International.” Genocide, Convention on the Prevention and            Punishment of the Crime of – – Prevent Genocide International. N.p., n.d. Web. 19   Mar. 2014. <http://www.preventgenocide.org/law/convention/text.htm>.

The Resolution adopted by the U.N. General Assembly on December 9, 1948.

 

http://iwitness.usc.edu

Over 1,300 video testimonies, multimedia activities, and digital resources are available to educators. After requesting access to the site and receiving a login, educators can create a class account with assignments and activities.

 

Jonassohn, Kurt. “Prevention Without Prediction.” Holocaust and Genocide Studies 7       (1993): 2-4.

A broader definition of genocide.

 

Levi, Primo, S. J. Woolf, and Philip Roth. Survival in Auschwitz: The Nazi Assault on       Humanity. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996. Print.

An autobiography of Primo Levi’s experiences in the camps, which could be read in its entirety or just selected excerpts. Appropriate for high school students.

 

Marlowe, Jen, Aisha Bain, Adam Shapiro, Paul Rusesabagina, and Francis Mading Deng.            Darfur Diaries: Stories of Survival. New York: Nation, 2006. Print.

Three independent filmmakers recount the testimonies of the people of Darfur, describe their own experiences in traveling in Sudan, and provide historical and political background. This book is also the subject of a documentary. Both would be appropriate for high school students and could be used as a modern day example of genocide to compare to the themes of stories of the Holocaust.

 

Power, Samantha. A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide. New York:    Basic, 2002. Print.

A critical history of the United States’ reactions (or lack of) toward genocide.

 

Steidle, Brian, and Gretchen Steidle. Wallace. The Devil Came on Horseback: Bearing                 Witness to the Genocide in Darfur. New York: Public Affairs, 2007. Print.

This memoir of a former United States Marine, who served for six months in Darfur as an unarmed military observer for the African Union, would be appropriate for high school students and could be used as a modern day example of genocide to compare to the themes of stories of the Holocaust, especially the theme of the role of bystanders.

 

“What is Genocide?.” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. United States   Holocaust Memorial Council, 10 June 2013. Web. 21 Mar. 2014. <http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007043>.

A definition of genocide and an explanation of the history of the term from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

 

Wiesel, Elie, and Marion Wiesel. Night. New York, NY: Hill and Wang, a Division of      Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006. Print.

Literary non-fiction describing Elie Wiesel’s life in the ghetto and camps, which could be read in its entirety or just selected excerpts. Appropriate for high school readers.

 

“Witness to History Project.” Holocaust Awareness Museum and Education Center.         Web. 22 Mar. 2014.             <http://www.holocaustawarenessmuseum.org/content/witness-to-history-project>.

Holocaust Awareness Museum and Education Center, located in Philadelphia, offer opportunities to have survivors speak as well as projects that allow students to create and present biographies of the survivors.

Appendix

Close Reading Questions[i]

 

Reading for Meaning:

  • What is the author telling me here?
  • Are there any hard or important words?
  • What does the author want me to understand?
  • How does the author play with language to add to meaning?

 

Reading to Analyze:

  • Who is speaking in the passage?
  • Who seems to be the main audience? (To whom is the narrator speaking?)
  • What is the first thing that jumps out at me? Why?
  • What’s the next thing I notice? Are these two things connected? How? Do they seem to be saying different things?
  • What seems important here? Why?
  • What does the author mean by ______? What exact words lead me to this meaning?
  • Is the author trying to convince me of something? What? How do I know?
  • Is there something missing from this passage that I expected to find? Why might the author have left this out? Is there anything that could have been explained more thoroughly for greater clarity?
  • Is there a message or main idea? What in the text led me to this conclusion?
  • How does this sentence/passage fit into the text as a whole?

 

 

 

Reading for Craft Techniques

 

Craft Technique Possible Questions
Imagery, including comparisons:

  • Similes
  • Metaphors
  • Personification
  • Figurative language
  • Symbols

 

 

 

What is being compared?

 

Why is the comparison effective? (typically because of the clear, strong, or unusual connection between the two)

 

What symbols are present? Why did the author choose these symbols?

Word choice  

What word(s) stand out? Why? (typically vivid words, unusual choices, or a contrast to what a reader expects)

 

How do particular words get us to look at characters or events in a particular way?

Do they evoke an emotion?

 

Did the author use nonstandard English or words in another language? Why? What is the effect?

 

Are there any words that could have more than one meaning? Why might the author have played with language in this way?

Tone and voice

  • Sentence structure
  • Short sentence
  • Long sentences
  • Sentence fragments
  • Sentences in which word order is important
  • Questions

 

 

What one word describes the tone? Is the voice formal or informal? If it seems informal, how did the author make it

that way? If it’s formal, what makes it formal? Does the voice seem appropriate for the content?

 

What stands out about the way this sentence is written?

 

Why did the author choose a short sentence here? (for example, so it stands out from sentences around it, for emphasis)

 

Why did the author make this sentence really long? (for example, to convey the “on and on” sense of the experience.)

 

Why did the author write a fragment here? (for example, for emphasis or to show a character’s thoughts)

 

Based on the order of the words in this sentence, which word do you think is the most important? Why? What was the author trying to show by placing a particular word in a certain place?

 

Student Handout 1

 

Genocide, as defined by the United Nations Convention on Genocide:

 

In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

 

 

 

 

Student Handout 2

 

Entering the city, our pilgrims pursued and killed Saracens up to the Temple of Solomon, in which they had assembled and where they gave battle to us furiously for the whole day so that their blood flowed through the whole temple. Finally, having overcome the pagans, our knights seized a great number of men and women, and they killed whom they wished and whom they wished they let live…No one has even heard of or seen such a slaughter…and no one except God knows their number.

-Jerusalem, Israel

 

Indians were ruthlessly driven from their tribal grounds, and when they did attempt to resist by attacking isolated miners, the prospectors hunted down all of the natives in the area in the same joyous fashion they would have gone after jackrabbits. Women were brutalized by gang rapes; men were captures like animals and forced to do field labor, kidnapped children were treated as slaves.

-California, United States

 

They were given only scraps of food; if they felt sick they were left where they had dropped…Here and there squads of 50 or 100 men would be taken, bound together in groups of four, and then marched out to a secluded spot a short distance from the village. Suddenly the sound of rifle shots would fill the air…the murderers had added a refinement to their victims’ sufferings by compelling them to dig their own graves before being shot.

-Constantinople, Turkey

 

Every morning at a fixed hour before dawn two mysterious trains would leave in the direction of Mineralni Vody and Rostov. The trains were empty and consisted of five to ten freight cars each. Between two and four hours later the trains would return…all cars were locked…and were closely guarded by the NKVD [the Soviet secret police].

 

Nobody paid any attention to the mysterious trains at first…But one day [the] conductor…called me quietly and took me to the trains, saying “I want to show you what is in the cars.” He opened the door of one car slightly. I looked in and almost swooned at the sight I saw. It was full of corpses, piled at random.

-Kavkaz, Georgia

 

We were told to leave our luggage in the train and…file past a senior SS officer…[who] pointed leisurely to the right or to the left. None of us had the slightest idea of the sinister meaning behind that little movement of a man’s finger, pointing now to the right and now to the left.

-Oswiecim, Poland

 

Villagers were ordered at gunpoint to line up. Their elbows were tied behind their backs with red cord and they were made to kneel along the open trench…Soldiers administered a quick blow to the back of the head or neck with a heavy wooden hoe or a machete. Each soldier was able to kill villagers at the rate of twenty to thirty per minute with little noise or wasted bullets.

-Cambodia

 

We are dying, freezing starving, crying, parting with our friends, leaving our loved ones…Among my girlfriends, among our friends, in our family, there are Serbs, Croats and Muslims, It’s a mixed group and I never knew who was a Serb, a Croat or a Muslim…Now politics has started meddling around…it wants to separate them…I simply don’t understand it.

-Sarajevo, Bosnia

 

There were no schools, no telephones. Looters had emptied former government buildings, stripped parts from trucks and tractors, dug up electric cables for the copper in them, stolen the very pumps hat brought water from the ground. The only thing…in abundance was death.

-Somalia

 

Observations After Reading:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Commonalities Identified:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Student Handout 3

GENOCIDE CASE STUDY
Country or Region:

 

 

List information sources used.

 

 
 

Describe the economic situation.

 

 
Describe the political structure and/or form of government.

 

 
Identify the people directly committing the genocide. What race, ethnicity, and/or religion were they?  
Identify any people who indirectly committed genocide by aiding or arming the main perpetrators.  
Identify the position of the victims of the genocide in society including economic/social status, race, religion, etc.  
 

Explain how the genocide ended.

 

 
 

Discuss if and how those responsible for the genocide were punished.

 
 

Describe what, if anything was done to aid the families or communities of victims.

 

 

[i] Boyle, 36 – 41.

Standards

Common Core State Standards

 

Reading Literature:

 

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.1

Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.2

Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.3

Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.4

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language evokes a sense of time and place; how it sets a formal or informal tone).

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.5

Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure a text, order events within it (e.g., parallel plots), and manipulate time (e.g., pacing, flashbacks) create such effects as mystery, tension, or surprise.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.6

Analyze a particular point of view or cultural experience reflected in a work of literature from outside the United States, drawing on a wide reading of world literature.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.7

Analyze the representation of a subject or a key scene in two different artistic mediums, including what is emphasized or absent in each treatment.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.10

By the end of grade 9, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, in the grades 9-10 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.

By the end of grade 10, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, at the high end of the grades 9-10 text complexity band independently and proficiently.

 

Reading Informational Texts:

 

Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.

Analyze how the author unfolds an analysis or series of ideas or events, including the order in which the points are made, how they are introduced and developed, and the connections that are drawn between them.

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language of a court opinion differs from that of a newspaper).

Analyze in detail how an author’s ideas or claims are developed and refined by particular sentences, paragraphs, or larger portions of a text (e.g., a section or chapter).

Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how an author uses rhetoric to advance that point of view or purpose.

Analyze various accounts of a subject told in different mediums (e.g., a person’s life story in both print and multimedia), determining which details are emphasized in each account.

Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning.

 

Writing:

 

Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.

Introduce a topic; organize complex ideas, concepts, and information to make important connections and distinctions; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., figures, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.

Develop the topic with well-chosen, relevant, and sufficient facts, extended definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples appropriate to the audience’s knowledge of the topic.

Use appropriate and varied transitions to link the major sections of the text, create cohesion, and clarify the relationships among complex ideas and concepts.

Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to manage the complexity of the topic.

Establish and maintain a formal style and objective tone while attending to the norms and conventions of the discipline in which they are writing.

Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the information or explanation presented (e.g., articulating implications or the significance of the topic).

Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1-3 above.)

Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience. (Editing for conventions should demonstrate command of Language standards 1-3 up to and including grades 9-10 here.)

Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products, taking advantage of technology’s capacity to link to other information and to display information flexibly and dynamically.

Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the usefulness of each source in answering the research question; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.

Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Apply grades 9-10 Reading standards to literary nonfiction (e.g., “Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning”).

Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.

 

Speaking & Listening:

 

Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9-10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

Come to discussions prepared, having read and researched material under study; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence from texts and other research on the topic or issue to stimulate a thoughtful, well-reasoned exchange of ideas.

Work with peers to set rules for collegial discussions and decision-making (e.g., informal consensus, taking votes on key issues, presentation of alternate views), clear goals and deadlines, and individual roles as needed.

Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that relate the current discussion to broader themes or larger ideas; actively incorporate others into the discussion; and clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions.

Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarize points of agreement and disagreement, and, when warranted, qualify or justify their own views and understanding and make new connections in light of the evidence and reasoning presented.

Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source.

Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric, identifying any fallacious reasoning or exaggerated or distorted evidence.

Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task.

Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest.

Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.