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Using Lessons Learned Through a Study of the Holocaust to Teach Children to Become Upstanders

Author: Joyce Arnosky


Penn Alexander School

Year: 2014

Seminar: Teaching the Holocaust: Bearing Witness

Grade Level: 5

Keywords: bystander, elementary, English, Holocaust, Literature, upstander

School Subject(s): English


“…Thou shall not be a perpetrator;

Thou shall not be a victim:

And thou shall never, but never, be a bystander.”

Yehuda Bauer


For more than half a century now, the world has wondered how the Holocaust could have happened.  How is it possible that millions of people were murdered and no one heard and no one spoke out to stop it? Through this unit, students will become links in the chain of witness as they come to understand one of the most painful lessons of history – the price, in human terms, of being a bystander, of remaining passive in the face of human suffering. Students will also learn though, that it is possible to act to prevent, or at least to inhibit injustice by becoming an upstander – someone who can and will speak up when they see something bad is happening.  Through the lessons in this unit, students will further strengthen their sense of self and develop an awareness of their common humanity with other people.  They will learn simple steps and actions to take in order to be prepared, when they see a need, to stand up/speak up. Students will identify role models- ordinary people who have done extraordinary things, and, finally, they will practice becoming upstanders in their school, home, or community. This unit is designed to be implemented in a 5th grade classroom during the literacy block over the course of approximately three weeks.

Download Unit: Arnosky-Joyce-unit-1.pdf

Did you try this unit in your classroom? Give us your feedback here.

Full Unit Text

On the way to lunch one day last month, Andrew, one of my 5th graders posed a question.  “Ms. A, you know about what happened in Germany, right?”  A dozen responses ran through my mind. He’s talking about the Holocaust.  What can I say?  Where do I start? What can I tell him in the minute and a half that it will take us to travel the three flights of stairs to the cafeteria?  Fighting the urge to overwhelm him with all that I had recently read and thought about, I stopped, took the teacherly approach and simply asked him to tell me more.  “You know,” he said, “when they killed all those people during the war, the Jews.”  At this point we had reached the door of the cafeteria and, impatient for my answer, but perceiving that it probably wasn’t coming anytime soon, he turned abruptly and joined the flow of students heading towards the pizza line.  Andrew had gone, but his question lingered.  Initially I was relieved that I hadn’t had to answer.  But what an eminently teachable moment, lost.  I thought it most likely that he would return in the next half hour with his classmates, the question forgotten. I thought this was probably just another of those boys and their wars question, a ploy to hear about the grisly bits.  But Andrew surprised me.  When I picked up the class, he was at it again. Weaving through the crowd of students, he kept by my side and asked, “You know, the war?  How could that have happened?  How could all those people be killed?  Why didn’t anybody stop it?” Andrew’s astonishing question was posed to me, but little did he know that it is an ethical question that has haunted and challenged the word for more than half a century.


There are, of course, no easy answers. Most people in extreme situations become bystanders:  they’re afraid to act, fearful of retribution against themselves or their families; they don’t want to get involved- it’s not really an issue for them; or they simply don’t know what to do – they have no “vocabulary” for the decision making process nor do they have a repertoire of consequent action required.


Becoming a person who thinks for oneself and is therefore able to respond to injustice is not a simple, linear process.  It requires, primarily, that we not accept easy solutions to complex questions. Rather, we must be able to learn to deal with what Anne Frank referred to as the “little bundles of contradictions.” It requires that we look at the world from more than one perspective and willingly put ourselves into another’s shoes.


The work students will do in the lessons throughout this unit will, in some small part, begin to prepare them to become what journalist Samantha Power describes as “upstanders”- people who  can and will stand up, speak up, and take action to help defend others when they see an injustice occurring. This is not a stance that comes naturally to us, as evidenced by the inaction of most Europeans before and during World War II and the world in general during the Bosnian and Rwandan genocides. No one person can cure society’s ills, but many like-minded individuals, talking, and taking small, yet purposeful steps can. The purpose of the lessons, the overarching goal, is to guide students towards an understanding that inaction in the face of injustice not only hurts the victim, but ultimately the bystander as well.


Philosopher Hannah Arendt notes that just thinking about what is right and wrong is not enough – it will not lead to action.  “Action is only possible when people are forced to think about their thinking with other thinkers.  Action is informed by cognitive dissonance.  That cognitive state of imbalance, according to this theory, usually results in a re-adjustment of thought and sometimes action.  Thus, the thinking about one’s thinking, alone or with others, can provide the opportunity for this dissonance.” ( qtd. in Murphy and Gallagher)


Students must be encouraged to cultivate sensitivity and attentiveness to injustices they may encounter.  They must be allowed to think out loud and actively question themselves and others, observe models and “rehearse” their responses in the relatively safe environment of a supportive classroom.  The work they do may, at times, be uncomfortable, but when they are forced to make and analyze difficult ethical decisions, they can and will stand up for what they believe in and know is right.


The unit is divided into two parts:

Part 1 -Teaching children about the Holocaust

Part 2 – Teaching children to become upstanders



Part I- Teaching children about the Holocaust


In considering this part of the unit, I faced the dilemma of where does a teacher start. The amount of material is overwhelming. Al Filreis’ answer to this question is to “start with the individual survivor. It works ethically (because big generalizations are inherently unfair and untenable) and it works pedagogically.  We are often overwhelmed as teachers by the felt need, urgently felt need, to start historically and contextually from the beginning – but if we “teach” that way we will lose our students in what seems a typical history lesson…Lessons should be tightly focused on the particular.  Response from the students will open up to the larger issues and the larger contextual information….Don’t start with that information, let it be called for in the process.” So through discussions of certain basic concepts and in a limited and controlled way, without revealing to them all the events and atrocities that occurred, the facts of the Holocaust can be uncovered in a meaningful way for children.


Students will learn about the Holocaust through looking at the individual experiences of children before and during the Holocaust.  This allows younger students to learn about and empathize with people roughly their age .In this section of the unit, students will encounter selected texts, survivor testimonies, both video and written, as well as photos and artifacts.  Students will do close readings, discuss, and write in a variety of genres.


Students will then examine and discuss accounts of people other than the victims and perpetrators of the Holocaust and consider the choices they could have and did make –the responses of the “bystanders and rescuers” and the reasons behind their choices



Unit Part II: Teaching children to become upstanders


Whenever we look back on history and its atrocities, it is always easier to believe that, had we been there, we would have behaved better, been more heroic.  We would have somehow found that rare courage within us to act, and not simply turn away. But here we are, in the 21st century. When confronted with injustice, whether globally, in our communities, our work, within our families, at school, are we able to make ethical decisions that will lead to action? Do we know how to go about it? Are we prepared?


Dr. Ellen Kennedy, co-founder of World Without Genocide believes that it is possible to create upstanders.  We can begin by talking about individuals just like us who have been victims. Once we perceive the similarities, it is harder to be indifferent, and this, “opens our hearts to care.”  In order to gain the courage to act, “students should hear stories of ordinary people who’ve done extraordinary things.”  Finally, by suggesting simple actions and steps that can be taken, we teach our students how to act.


Students will:

  • Gain an understanding of the Holocaust through the photographs and diaries of children who lived and died during this time
  • Understand the consequences of silence and passivity in the face of injustice
  • Consider the importance of and the difficulties inherent in choosing to stand up/speak out
  • Begin to learn strategies to use for speaking out
  • Rehearse these strategies through role play and critical analysis in collaboration with classmates in order to be prepared when the need to speak arises
  • Read and write across a variety of genres in order to deepen knowledge and experience


One of the most important strategies throughout this unit is the use of journals.  They will be, to paraphrase Paul Janeczko, the place their words and thoughts are looking for.  Students’ journals will be the place where they keep their thinking, where they will explain the responses to questions, ask their own questions, muse, grapple with new and old ideas, and with things that don’t make sense, or are just beginning to. It will even be a place for doodles.  In short, it will be a place for students to learn about their learning.

In addition to journals, students will write across a range of genres.  They will do quick writes in response to prompts, personal narratives as a way of thinking and learning about themselves, and informational writing as they detail in reports and interviews their thinking, learning, and research about others. Students will rehearse, draft, revise, and edit their work. Students will use a variety of media and visual displays to express and enhance their findings and presentations.

Students will read various genres (memoir, diaries, fiction, informational texts, and literary nonfiction) for a variety of purposes. They will do close readings and use note taking strategies in their research and will apply these strategies to examining and understanding video clips of testimonies.

Throughout the unit, students will work collaboratively in various group configurations and individually.

Classroom Activities

Introduce the unit by telling students that they will be learning about a time in the past when terrible things were happening in the world.  This period was known as World War II. Explain that the lessons for the next few weeks will center on the part of the war that came to be known as the Holocaust.  Let them know that we will use the lessons learned about that time to help us figure out things in our time.


Lesson 1

Reading the Photographs – Taking a Closer Look at the Lives of Individual Children


The purpose of doing a close reading of a photograph is very much like that of doing a close reading of a text.  In each, students move from simply reading the words or observing the images to thinking more consciously about what they are reading or seeing, and so, to a deeper understanding of the underlying ideas.


In this lesson, students will look closely at a selection of pre-war photos of children and compare and contrast what they observe with their lives today.  Students will understand that the events of the Holocaust happened to people who were very much like themselves.




Copies of pre-war photographs of children – one set for each group (

Copies of photos for the overhead or for an interactive white board

Journals (marble copybooks or journals created specifically for the unit)




  1. Divide students into groups and provide each group with copies of photographs so that each group member has a photograph.
  2. Have students examine each photo and record the following in their journals:


  • List all the details you see in the photo; what questions do you have about these


  • Describe what is happening.
  • Tell where and when you think the photo was taken and explain what clues you used;
  • Describe what’s changed and what has stayed the same.
  • What questions come to mind as you looked at these photographs? What do you wonder? What do you want to know?


  1. Provide the time for all group members to look at all the photos in the packet and then discuss their observations.
  2. As a class, discuss students’ observations, reactions and questions. What did they find out?


Lesson 2

In the Words of the Children

(Lesson adapted for younger students from Yad Veshem lessons:

Jewish Children in the Holocaust as Reflected in their Diaries

“Until Then I had only Read about These Things in Books”- The Story of Yuri Orlev            


Students will do close readings of excerpts from the diaries of several Jewish children who lived and perished during the Holocaust.  Their diaries include insights into their pre-war lives, the beginnings of Nazi occupation, ghetto life, the hardships they faced and how they coped.


Students will also read selection from a memoir by a child survivor.

By examining the different genres, students will understand that there are many ways of looking at things.

They will also consider how the telling of the experience and the hearing of the experience can be distorted by such elements as time, language, filters, and society’s expectations.




Copies for each student of the diary entries and the memoir (Appendix A)

Copy for overhead or interactive white board





Session 1

  1. Prior to reading, ask students to respond in their journals to the following questions:
  • What is your idea of a diary?
  • What might be in it?
  • Why would a person start a diary?
  • Do you now, or have you ever kept a diary?


Discuss the responses with the class.


  1. Introduce the diaries by explaining to the students that they will be reading excerpts about life during the Holocaust from diaries written by five Jewish children – children similar to those whose pictures they just examined.


  1. Have students define a primary source. Explain if they are not familiar with the term.


  1. Ask students to consider what use a diary would be to a historian.

(Provides a direct window into the lives and feelings of people were “there” without the

filter of hindsight; as a record of what was happening to them should they not survive)


  1. Explain to students that it is impossible to know just how much was written during this time because so much was destroyed. As a result, the surviving fragments are all the more precious.

Note: Even Anne Frank’s diary would have been lost to us had it not been for Miep Gies.  She secretly and illegally returned to the attic, retrieved the pages the Gestapo had scattered during the arrest, and returned them to Otto Frank at the end of the war.


  1. Provide a brief biographical description of each diarist.


  1. Students will read the children’s diary entries that pertain to each of the increasingly restrictive sanctions imposed on the Jews and respond to the accompanying discussion questions in their journals, citing evidence from the text. In addition to the responses, students should actively wonder, question, comment on what they are reading and record these musings as well.


  1. A class discussion should follow each section.


Session 2

Follow the discussion of the diary entries with excerpts of the memoir of Uri Orlev, a child survivor.

  1. As the text is introduced, explain that this genre is a memoir. Elicit an explanation of memoir.


  1. Assign students to read and respond to the text in their journals. Before they begin, ask them to think, as they read, if this account of similar events differs from the diary entries. Consider tone, language, purpose, style.


  1. Once the class has had a chance to share their journal responses, facilitate a discussion about how these similar events are relayed. Do they differ? How? Is the memoir more like a story? Why?  How is the language different?  The tone?  Who is the audience for each?  Are the events filtered?  How? Intentionally so?


Session 3



Video clips of testimonies by survivors who were 10-14 years old at the time of the Holocaust.  Testimonies are approximately 1 to 3 minutes each and cover topics similar to those covered in the diaries and memoir.

Life before the war, Kristallnacht, Religious holiday observances, Life in the Ghetto, Hiding




  1. Introduce the testimonies to students by briefly explaining that the people they will be seeing were about their own age when the holocaust occurred. Allow students to encounter the testimonies without much preface.
  2. Prior to playing the clips, tell students that you will play each through twice, so that they will have an opportunity to catch missed words and to better understand the events being described.

Direct them to record in the journals their immediate reactions to what they have seen and heard.

  1. Once students have completed this assignment for all of the clips you chose to show, ask them to consider and respond in their journals to the following questions:
  • What are some of the characteristics of the video testimonies?
  • What is the possible purpose of the video?
  • Why might a person give a first person witness testimony about such an experience?
  • In what ways is a testimony like a diary? Like a memoir?
  1. Discuss the responses as a class.


Lesson 3

 And the “Terrible Things” came



Session 1



Copy for each student of reading selections from Facing History and Ourselves:  Holocaust and Human Behavior (see resources list) Reading #6 from Chapter 6– twelve year old Andre, office worker Melita Maschmann, Minister Dietrich Goldschmidt, and Holocaust survivor Gerda Weissmann Klein (Appendix B)

Testimony of Father S from Yale Holocaust video archive (Seeing: Witnesses Recall their Experiences (HVT-8060)

Copy of Terrible Things: An Allegory of the Holocaust, by Eve Bunting

Copy of Excerpted version of Terrible Things: An Allegory of the Holocaust, by Eve Bunting





Preface the lesson with a brief account of Kristallnacht, explaining that it was seen by many Jews as a turning point in the attitude of the government and the “Aryan” Germans towards them, leading as it did to increasing restrictions and unchecked, escalating violence.


  1. Complete a close reading of the texts. It is important that students understand what happened in each narrative. Have students make notes on each account.
  2. After viewing Father S’s testimony, have students respond in their journals to the following questions:
  • Summarize his account
  • What was his reaction to what he saw?
  • Why do you think he did what he did?
  • What could he have done?
  • How do you think he feels about his actions?


  1. Introduce the vocabulary: perpetrator, victim, bystander, rescuer/upstander

Ask students to predict the meaning of each word based on the readings.

As a class, develop a working definition of each word

  1. Using the definitions, determine who the victims in each account were and who the perpetrators were. Cite evidence from the text to support.
  2. Consider the idea of the bystander. Who were the bystanders? Did they do harm?  Did they help or did they do nothing?  What do you think prevented them from acting?  In what ways could their inaction have encouraged the perpetrators in their actions?
  3. Display the following quote by Professor of Holocaust studies, Yehuda Bauer:

“…Thou shall not be a perpetrator;

Thou shall not be a victim;

And thou shall never, but never, be a bystander.”


Ask students to consider:  Why does he say the worse thing to be is a bystander?  What do you think is worse, being a perpetrator or a bystander?  Why?

Have students take time to respond to the questions in their journals and then discuss among themselves in small groups.  Call the class together to facilitate a full discussion.

Session 2



  1. Read aloud Terrible Things
  2. Ask students to reread their copy of the text and respond to the questions
  3. Discuss the story as a class.
  4. Ask students how this story relates to what they know of the fate of the Jews and the reactions of the non-Jews to events. Why do you think the author chose to tell a story about the Holocaust in this format?


Lesson 4

 What would you do to help someone in trouble?




Copy for each student of the story of Stefa Dworek Reading 8, Chapter 8 Holocaust and Human Behavior

Testimony of Metta Shayna

G.F. Duckwitz and the Citizens of Denmark (

Copy of Rose Blanche by Roberto Innocenti, The Butterfly, by Patricia Polacco, The Cats in Krasinski Square, by Karen Hesse



Before beginning the lesson, students will write a personal narrative about a time when someone helped them.  The narrative should include an explanation of the problem/dilemma they were facing, a description of who helped, how and why and the resolution.  The narrative should conclude with a reflection on the episode. Pieces should be collected and shared at a later time.

(Note:  This can be done in class or as a take home assignment)




  1. Display and read aloud Eve Bunting’s preface to Terrible Things as a reminder of the reading and discussions of the earlier lesson.

            In Europe, during World War II, many people looked the other way while terrible things

happened.  They pretended not to know that their neighbors were being taken away and

locked in concentration camps.  They pretended not to hear their cries for help.  The

Nazis killed millions of Jews and others in the holocaust.  If everyone had stood together

at the first sign of real evil would this have happened?


Standing up for what you know is right is not always easy.  Especially if the one you face

is bigger and stronger than you.  It is easier to look the other way.  But if you do, terrible

things can happen.


  1. Have students write down their definition of a hero. Ask them to decide if they think heroes are born or do they come to do heroic things in small steps?
  2. Explain to students that during the war, there were severe penalties for helping Jews – from imprisonment to death. Yet despite these grim consequences, people were willing to help.
  3. Professor Staub, in his study of rescuers states, “Goodness, like evil, often begins in small steps. Heroes evolve: they aren’t born.  Very often the rescuers make only a small commitment at the start – to hide someone for a day or two.  But once they had taken that step, they began to see themselves differently, as someone who helps.  What starts as a mere willingness becomes intense involvement.”  Discuss this idea with students in light of their definition of heroes.
  4. Do a close reading of the article on Stefa Dworek and discuss how she fits this definition.

What did she risk to help Irena?  Did she think what she did was “heroic”? Do you think she would have done it again? Explain.

  1. Provide students with a brief bio of Metta Shayna, a Danish Jew

Briefly describe the wartime status of Denmark

  1. View the video testimony. Ask students to respond to her story.  What did they think?  Was she courageous?  Who else was courageous?
  2. Students will read the article on G.F. Duckwitz and describe his actions in their journals. Was he a bystander or a rescuer/upstander? He was a member of the Nazi party, yet he played a great part in the rescue of thousands of Danish Jews.  What might have made him change his mind? What do you think motivated him?  What might have happened had he been caught?
  3. Read aloud any (or all) of the children’s books mentioned in the materials section. Each is a beautifully illustrated, poignantly written account based on a true story of heroic rescue by ordinary people. Students can summarize the story and discuss the risks taken by the characters, analyze the characters and plot. How did they perceive their actions?
  4. Class will revisit the definition of hero and make a class list of the characteristics of a person who is/could be considered a hero. (To be posted and used for the second section of lessons)


Prior to transitioning to the next section, have students write about an incident in their lives in which they were a bystander.  What was it all about?  What happened?  How did you feel afterwards?  Students may share their writing or talk about it to the class


SECTION 2- So now that you know, what will you do about it?


The lessons in the first section provided young children with a brief overview and glimpse of the Holocaust – specifically what happens when people stand by and do nothing in the face of what they see and must know is wrong.


In this section, students will apply their knowledge from these earlier lessons.  They will become aware of their obligation to stand up and speak out against what they see is wrong as well as of their power to effect change, even as they begin with what Professor Staub would call small steps towards goodness.


Lesson 5

Us vs Them




Sticky notes

Number line drawn on the board from 1 to 10 with “not like me at all” written under the 1 and “a lot like me” written under the 10

Large pieces of plain white paper or newsprint paper



  1. Ask students what are some of the things you notice immediately about someone you meet for the first time. (gender, race, age, clothes, etc.) Have them make a quick list in their journals then jot down their responses on the board
  2. How do they process this information? Would you consider making a friend of this person?  How would you decide?
  3. If you used a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being “not like me at all” and 10 being “a lot like me”) where would you place this new person. Put a number on the sticky note and place it where it would fall on the number line.
  4. Once all notes have been placed take a look at the graph and determine what it says about how we think/categorize people. The ‘like me’ section can be seen as “us”, while the ‘not like me’ group is seen as “them”.
  5. Discuss the idea of “us” vs “them”. Where do we see this played out today?  Where do we see in in history?
  6. Discuss how we treat each category.
  7. Have students create an Identity Chart (see eduvators/educator-resources/teaching-strategies/identity-charts.

In this activity, students place their name in the center of a large piece of paper and surround it with words and phrases that describe them, activities and groups to which they belong, cultural aspects, etc.


Charts are then displayed and students compare their chart with their classmates’.  Have them determine if there are some categories that are on all charts?  What appeared in only a few?  After looking at all charts, ask students if there are categories they might want to add to their own and allow them to do this. What happens when there are many connections?  Is it harder to group people into strict categories?  Is it harder to have ‘us’ and ‘them’ groupings?  What could that mean?


  1. President Obama remarked in a speech given  in Tucson Az., “We may not be able to stop all evil in the world, but I know that how we treat one another is strictly up to us.”  Have students respond to this. What can we do to treat each other is ways that don’t categorize or exclude people?  How could everybody be included in ‘us’?


Lesson 6





Video of the Asch Experiment – available through YouTube (Question everything)






  1. Preface the lesson by asking students to think about belonging to a group by responding to these questions:
  • How important is it for you to belong to a group?
  • How do you think it might affect your actions in certain situations?
  • How difficult is it for someone to go against the group?


Follow this up with a quick write.  Write about a time when you had to decide whether to go along with the actions of a group or to be independent and go your own way.  Briefly describe the situation and your decision.  What things do you think influenced you?  Explain how you felt about what you did.


  1. Ask for volunteers to share their responses.
  2. Show students the video. Ask that they jot down notes – thoughts, questions, reactions- as they watch
  3. Follow the video with a discussion. What exactly happened?  How did the subject react?  Why? What do you think about it?  What do you think you would have done? How might what we just saw help us understand how people can act or not act in a certain way when confronted with a dilemma?


Lesson 7

Where We Stand.  (Adapted for younger children from “Dealing With Dilemmas:  Upstanders, Bystanders and Whistle-Blowers. Teaching Tolerance)




Scenarios and worksheets (Appendix C)

Signs on large pieces of paper placed around the room:  AGREE;   NOT SURE;   DISAGREE




  1. Students will receive a scenario depicting an everyday dilemma. They will read it and decide if they agree with the action taken and explain their thinking on the accompanying worksheet.
  2. Once students have read and comment, project the scenario on the overhead or interactive white board, reread it and have students move to the part of the classroom that corresponds with their response.
  3. Once there, students will discuss among themselves the reasons for their choice and pick a spokesperson to represent their side
  4. Go around the room and have a student from each group report out. Record key words on a chart
  5. Students may change their group if they heard something that made them think differently. If they do move, ask them to explain what they heard and how it affected their decision.
  6. After several scenarios, regroup as a class and revisit the words previously posted: perpetrator, victim, bystander, upstander.  Review the working definitions for each
  7. Ask for adjectives that can be applied to each of the definitions stat will give a deeper understanding of a person’s traits, motivations, and feeling, and not simply describe their actions. Example:  scared bystander, hesitant helper
  8. Have students label the participants in each of the scenarios
  9. As an extension, have students role play one of the scenarios and have the protagonist ask the class for suggestions on what he or she could say to create a positive outcome.

Have students take different roles and improvise that character’s actions and responses.

  1. Keep a list of the strategies students suggest for dealing with these dilemmas.

Go back and have students evaluate the effectiveness of these suggestions – would they really work?  Why or why not?

  1. Have students create their own scenarios based on events they may have witnessed in school, out of school or heard in the news, present them to the class and discuss what could be done to end with a positive outcome.


Lesson 8

 Ordinary people doing extraordinary things


In reading about heroic rescuers during the Holocaust, all described themselves as ordinary people who really saw nothing heroic about their actions.  They believed there was nothing else they could have done, given the circumstances.



  1. In this lesson, students will identify an ordinary individual doing extraordinary things, research and write a report which will be presented to the class.


Possible subjects:  Mallala Yousafazi, one of the children who participated in the 1963 Children’s March in Birmingham, Alabama, one of the Little Rock 9, Miep Gies, a local community activist, etc.


For the report, students will:

  • Provide a brief  biographical introduction of the individual
  • Describe what action the person took to stand up for what he/she believed was important
  • Explain the individual’s motivation for the action
  • Describe the challenges and consequences the person faced by taking a stand and acting upon it
  • Detail the long term effects/benefits to others of the action
  • Highlight the personal qualities/traits they admire in this individual
  • Include a photograph or illustration of their subject or create a collage representing the issues and resolutions connected to this individual and his/her work
  • Reports should reflect the writing standards required of expository text


Students will present a short oral report to the class.



Lesson 9

Role models in students’ lives




  1. Ask students to identify a family member – parent, grandparent, aunt/uncle who they know has worked to make a difference in the lives of others, who stood up to defend what he/she believed was right, or spoke out against something that was not fair.

Note: Students may not be aware of the ways their family members worked for change and justice. So, in order to identify the person they would like to interview, students may need to discuss the notion of being and upstander and ask individual family members to tell about a time when they believed they took on the role of an upstander.

  1. Students will then interview that person and present their testimony.
  2. Prior to the interview, students will create a series of questions designed to help reveal the circumstances surrounding the action, the nature of the action, the obstacles and risks the person braved, the outcome, and the person’s feelings about the episode.
  3. Students may choose to report to the class in one of several formats:
  • a video of the interview
  • a tape of the interview accompanied by a picture of the person(projected)
  • an oral account presented to the class with a picture of the person (projected)
  1. The names, pictures, and brief accounts of these people should be displayed at the conclusion of the unit.


Lesson 10

Final Project- Students as Upstanders:  “Become the change you want to see in the world.” Gandhi

(Suggested by Professor Filreis)


For the past few weeks, students have worked to make sure that Yehuda Bauer’s words resonated with them and became something they would take to heart and keep with them as they moved through life. In this final section of the unit, they will, for the first of many occasions, put their learning into action.




  1. Ask students to become an upstander in some way – whether big or small
  2. Students will write about the experience in detail
  3. Narrative should include:
  • What did they choose to do??
  • Why?
  • What did they do?
  • What happened?
  • How hard was it to be an upstander?
  • What did it feel like afterward?
  • How hard would it be to do this again?
  • Is there another area where you feel you could/should speak up? What is it?

Encourage students to be very honest and thoughtful in their accounts. There are no wrong answers here.

  1. In addition to the written report, students could also create an audio or video testimony to share with the class.
  2. At the conclusion of the unit, in an informal class meeting format, ask students to share a few words about their experience of doing the work for this unit.


Display student work- include captions and explanations of the projects

Annotated Bibliography

Materials for classroom use:


All these are incredible sites containing innumerable and unique resources for teaching the Holocaust

This is a site dedicated to engaging students in an examination of racism, prejudice, and anti-Semitism in order to help them make connections between history and the moral choices they have to make in their lives.  This is an excellent source of lessons, strategies, and materials to support students and teachers in this mission.  Teachers have access to their publications, books, videos, movies and speakers

This site is a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center which should make their mission obvious.  This site is dedicated to providing support for educators and others who want to promote diversity and respect for differences in schools.  They provide excellent resources for thoughtful lessons, articles, and other materials.



Bunting, Eve. 1980. Terrible Things: An Allegory of the Holocaust. Philadelphia: The Jewish


Publication Society. Print.


This is an interesting and unique introduction to the Holocaust for children.  It


encourages children to speak up for what they think is right before it is too late.


Hesse, Karen.  2004.  The Cats in Krasinski Square. New York:  Scholastic. Print.


This is based on the true story of brave men, women, and children who risked


their lives to help others in the Warsaw Ghetto during the Holocaust.


Innocenti, Roberto. 1985. Rose Blanche. Mankato:  Creative Paperbacks. Print.


An excellent, unsentimental book to use to teach lessons of compassion, and morality


in the face of extreme circumstances



Polacco, Patricia. 2000.  The Butterfly.  New York:  Puffin Books. Print.


This is a beautifully written and illustrated book that tells the story of a French family


(the author’s own)  who worked with the Resistance to help save Jewish families.



Works Cited


Facing History and Ourselves.  Holocaust and Human Behavior.  Brookline: Facing History and


Ourselves National Foundation, Inc. 1994.Print


Filreis, Al. “Re:  teaching the Holocaust to children.”  Message to author. 21 Apr.2014. E-mail.


Kennedy, Ellen.  “Becoming an Upstander.” Enough 7 Dec. 2011.Web.Apr.2014.


Romano, Carlin. 2011. “Us vs Them:  Good News from the Ancients”.  Chronicle of Higher

Education. 23 Jan. 2011. Web. Apr. 2014.



Appendix A

Diary Text for Lesson 2


Between 1939 and 1945, six million Jews, including one-and-a-half million children and teenagers were murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators.  According to Nazi racial ideology, all Jews, regardless of age were deemed unworthy of life.

One these children was Moshe Flinker. Moshe Ze’ev Flinker was born in The Hague, The Netherlands, on October 9, 1926, and was eventually murdered in the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp. In 1942, after the Germans and the Dutch police began rounding up Jews for deportation, he fled along with his family to Brussels, Belgium, where the 16-year-old Moshe kept his diary. He writes:

November 24, 1942

“For some time now I have wanted to note down every evening what I have been doing during the day. But, for various reasons, I have not got round to it until tonight. First, let me explain why I am doing this – and I must start by describing why I came here to Brussels.
I was born in The Hague, the Dutch Queen’s city, where I passed my early years peacefully. I went to elementary school and then to commercial school, where I studied for only two years.

Discussion Questions

*Do you think Moshe’s motives for keeping a diary were similar to those of children today?

Eva Heyman was born in 1931 in Nagyvárad, Hungary. She was murdered in the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp in 1944. Early in her diary she describes her thirteenth birthday, and lists the presents she received:

February 13, 1944

“I’ve turned thirteen, I was born on Friday the thirteenth. [..] From Grandpa, [I received] phonograph records of the kind I like. My grandfather bought them so that I should learn French lyrics, which will make Ági [mother] happy, because she isn’t happy about my school record cards except when I get a good mark in French [..] I do a lot of athletics, swimming, skating, bicycle riding and exercise. [..] I’ve written enough today. You’re probably tired, dear diary.”

[Discussion Questions

  • What can we learn about Eva’s life and family from this excerpt? How would you describe her?
  • How do you think Eva perceives herself?

The Onslaught of Nazi Occupation

The children’s daily routine was disrupted with the Nazi occupation. Although the Germans began to target Jews for persecution, the situation differed from country to country and region to region.

March 19, 1944

“Dear diary, you’re the luckiest one in the world, because you cannot feel, you cannot know what a terrible thing has happened to us. The Germans have come!”

Dawid Sierakowiak was born in Lodz, Poland in 1934. He perished in the Lodz ghetto, a victim of starvation and illness. In his diary, he describes hearing the Germans have entered Lodz:

September 8, 1939

“Lodz is occupied! The beginning of the day was calm, too calm. In the afternoon I sat in the park and drew a sketch of a girlfriend. Then all of a sudden the terrifying news: Lodz has been surrendered! German patrols on Piotrkowska street. Fear, surprise [..] Meanwhile, all conversation stops; the streets grow deserted; faces and hearts are covered with gloom, cold severity and hostility.”

 Yitskhok Rudashevski was born in Vilna (now Lithuania) in 1927. He eventually perished in Ponary.

In 1941, the Nazi’s captured Vilna. Fourteen-year-old Yitskhok writes:

June 1941

“Monday was also an uneasy day. Red Army soldiers crowded into autos are continually riding to Lipovke. The residents are also running away. People say with despair that the Red Army is abandoning us. The Germans are marching on Vilna. The evening of that desperate day approaches. The autos with Red Army soldiers are fleeing. I understand that they are leaving us. I am certain, however, that resistance will come. I look at the fleeing army and I am certain that it will return victoriously.”

Discussion Questions

Read the following descriptions:

  • How would you characterize the different reactions to the invasion?
  • What do these reactions tell us about the children’s view of the situation?

First Decrees

Throughout Europe, persecution of the local Jewish population began swiftly after the entry of the Nazis. Jews were often stripped of their citizenship and barred from public institutions. Severe limitations were placed on their economic activity, and many became unemployed and destitute. For the children, school was disrupted and often halted altogether, and many Jewish pupils were forced to support their families by working or smuggling.

Eva Heyman, 13, Nagyvarad, Hungary:

April 7, 1944

“Today they came for my bicycle. I almost caused a big drama. You know, dear diary, I was awfully afraid just by the fact that the policemen came into the house. I know that policemen bring only trouble with them, wherever they go. [..] So, dear diary, I threw myself on the ground, held on to the back wheel of my bicycle, and shouted all sorts of things at the policemen: “Shame on you for taking away a bicycle from a girl! That’s robbery!” [..] One of the policemen was very annoyed and said: “All we need is for a Jewgirl to put on such a comedy when her bicycle is being taken away. No Jewkid is entitled to keep a bicycle anymore. The Jews aren’t entitled to bread, either; they shouldn’t guzzle everything, but leave the food for the soldiers.”

Moshe Flinker, 16, Belgium:

November 24, 1942

“During the year I attended, the number of restrictions on us rose greatly. [..] we had to turn in our bicycles to the police. From that time on, I rode to school by street-car, but a day or two before the vacations started, Jews were forbidden to ride on street-cars.” I then had to walk to school, which took about an hour and a half. [..] At that time I still thought that I would be able to return to school after the vacations; but I was wrong.”

Discussion Questions

Eva and Moshe are describing a process in which their daily life is becoming more constricted.

  • What messages are these children receiving from their neighbors?
  •  How did the children experience the changes occurring in their environment?
    • Describe Eva’s immediate and instinctive reaction towards the policemen, her protest/resistance when they take her bike and the response of the policemen to her resistance
    • Look at Moshe’s entry on increasing travel restrictions for Jews

Hannah Hershkowitz was born in 1935 in Biala Ravska, Poland. She survived the war. In her memoir, Hannah recalls:

“I was six years old. It was the first day of school in September, 1941. [..] Marisha, my best friend, invited me to come with her to school. We met in the morning and walked together with a lot of other children. We reached the big high gates. The watchman of the school was standing by the gate. [..] Marisha went through the gate, and I followed her, as the watchmen greeted her.
“Where are you going?” he asked me.
“To school, to the first grade,” I said proudly, and continued walking. The watchman blocked my way. “No, not you.”
“But I am six already – I really am!”
“You are a Jew,” he said, “Jews have no right to learn. No Jews in our school. Go home!” [..] Marisha, with the other children, ran into the building.
[..] I did not cry. I thought: I’m Jewish. There is no place for me. I stood there until no one stood in front of the school. Only me. The new school year had begun. But not for me.”

 Dawid Sierakowiak, 15, Lodz, Poland:

November 29, 1939

“School is falling apart like an old slipper. Yesterday two men from the Gestapo came to the school at four o’clock.

November 30

“The school has been taken away. The students help the hired porters. They give us until tomorrow evening to clear everything out. A deadly feeling; mass looting of the library.”[


  • What was the meaning of the first day of school for you? Were you escorted?
  • In light of these excerpts, how do you think the Jewish children felt being barred from school?

Dawid Sierakowiak, 15, Lodz, Poland:

October 3, 1939

“My father doesn’t have a job and simply suffocates at home. We have no money. It’s all shot! Disaster!”

Discussion Questions

  • Try to describe how Dawid felt after his father became unemployed.
  • How do you think this affected day-to-day life in his family?.

The Yellow Badge

Jews were forced to wear an identifying badge in order to identify them. This humiliating racial mark segregated them from society, and it made them easy targets for brutality. In the streets, Jews would often be harassed, beaten and humiliated in public.

Yitskhok Rudashevski, 14, Vilna:

July 8, 1941

“The decree was issued that the Vilna Jewish population must put on badges front and back – a yellow circle and inside it the letter J. It is daybreak. I am looking through the window and see before me the first Vilna Jews with badges. It was painful to see how people were staring at them. The large piece of yellow material on their shoulders seemed to be burning me and for a long time I could not put on the badge. I felt a hump, as though I had two frogs on me. I was ashamed of our helplessness. […] It hurt me that I saw absolutely no way out.”

Eva Heyman, 13, Nagyvarad, Hungary:

March 31, 1944

“Today an order was issued that from now on Jews have to wear a yellow star-shaped patch. The order tells exactly how big the star patch must be, and that it must be sewn on every outer garment, jacket or coat.

April 5, 1944

“[..] On my way to Grandma Lujza, I met some yellow-starred people. They were so gloomy, walking with their heads lowered. [..] I noticed Pista Vadas [a friend]. He didn’t see me, so I said hello to him. I know it isn’t proper for a girl to be the first one to greet a boy, but it doesn’t matter whether a yellow-starred girl is proper or not. Pa, Eva, he said, don’t be angry, but I didn’t even see you. The star patch is bigger than you, he said without laughing, just looking so gloomy.”

Discussion Questions

  • What do you think the badge meant to those who were forced to wear it?

Entry into the Ghettos and Hiding

The next stage of anti-Jewish persecution was closure into ghettos. Most of the Jews of Eastern Europe were forced out of their homes, leaving most of their belongings behind, and into ghettos – areas within cities and towns specifically allocated for Jewish residence. They were essentially held there as prisoners. Entire families would be packed together in extremely cramped, inhuman conditions.

Eva Heyman, 13, Nagyvarad, Hungary:

May 1, 1944

“In the morning Mariska [the family’s maid] burst into the house and said: ‘Have you seen the notices?’ No, we hadn’t, we are not allowed to go outside, except between nine and ten! [..] because we’re being taken to the ghetto. Mariska started packing [..] Mariska read in the notice that we are allowed to take along one change of underwear, the clothes on our bodies and the shoes on our feet [..]
Dear diary, from now on I’m imagining everything as if it really is a dream. [..] I know it isn’t a dream, but I can’t believe a thing. [..] Nobody says a word. Dear diary, I’ve never been so afraid”

Yitskhok Rudashevski, 14, Vilna, describes the expulsion to the new closed ghetto:

”It is the 6th of September (1941)
A beautiful, sunny day has risen. The streets are closed off by Lithuanians. [..] A ghetto is being created for Vilna Jews.
People are packing in the house. [..] I look at the house in disarray, at the bundles, at the perplexed, desperate people. I see things scattered which were dear to me, which I was accustomed to use. [..] The small number of Jews of our courtyard begin to drag the bundles to the gate. Gentiles are standing and taking part in our sorrow. [..] Suddenly everything around me begins to weep. Everything weeps. [..] The street streamed with Jews carrying bundles. The first great tragedy. [..] Before me a woman bends under her bundle. From the bundle a thin string of rice keeps pouring over the street. I walk burdened and irritated. [..] I think of nothing: not what I am losing, not what I have just lost, not what is in store for me. [..] I only feel that I am terribly weary, I feel that an insult, a hurt is burning inside me. Here is the ghetto gate. I feel that I have been robbed, my freedom is being robbed from me, my home and the familiar Vilna streets I love so much. I have been cut off from all that is dear and precious to me.“

Discussion Questions

  • How does Eva try to cope with the new reality?
  • What do you think Yitskhok meant when he wrote “the first great tragedy”?

Nazi anti-Jewish measures in occupied areas in Western Europe differed from those in the East. For various reasons, Jews were not closed in ghettos. However, the Nazis did enact similar anti-Jewish legislation: their citizenship was revoked, and they were banished from economic and social life. The decree for wearing the Jewish badge was also enacted in these countries.

Everyday Life in the Ghettos

The Jewish population in the areas under Nazi control lived in constant fear of abuse, looting and of deportation to the camps, which meant almost certain death.

Moshe Flinker, who was living in Brussels at the time, writes:

January 7, 1943

“Last night my parents and I were sitting around the table. It was almost midnight. Suddenly we heard the bell: we all shuddered. We thought that the moment had come for us to be deported. The fear arose mostly because a couple of days ago the inhabitants of Brussels were forbidden to go out after nine o’clock. The reason for this is that on December 31 three German soldiers were killed. Had it not been for this curfew it could have been some man who was lost and was ringing at our door. My mother had already put her shoes on to go to the door, but my father said to wait until the ring once more. But the bell did not ring again. Thank heaven it all passed quietly. Only the fear remained, and all day long my parents have been very nervous.”

Eva Heyman, 13, Nagyvarad, Hungary, describes her situation behind walls:

May 10, 1944

“Dear diary, we’re here five days, but, word of honor, it seems like five years. I don’t even know where to begin writing, because so many awful things have happened since I last wrote you. [..] the fence was finished, and nobody can go out or come in. The Aryans who used to live in the area of the Ghetto all left during these few days to make place for the Jews. From today on, dear diary, we’re not in a ghetto but in a ghetto-camp, and on every house they’ve pasted a notice which tells exactly what we’re not allowed to do [..] Actually, everything is forbidden, but the most awful thing of all is that the punishment for everything is death. There is no difference between things; no standing in the corner, no spankings, no taking away food, no writing down the declension of irregular verbs one hundred times the way it used to be in school. Not at all: the lightest and heaviest punishment – death. It doesn’t actually say that this punishment also applies to children, but I think it does apply to us, too.”













Childhood Before the War-Yuri Orlev

Student/Teacher Reading:

“I was born in 1931. My father was a doctor. My first ambition was to be a streetcar driver. I wanted to lounge by the throttle and ring the tinkling bell by pressing an iron pedal with my foot to warn pedestrians, wagons, horse-drawn carriages, and automobiles of my approach. Until one day it struck me that the policeman who stopped and started traffic with a wave of his hand was even more powerful. From then on, I wanted to be a policeman [..]

A short while after my younger brother was born, we moved to a village in the suburbs because my mother wanted to get away from the dirt, germs, and brawling of the city. We now lived in half of a new two-family house, and my father traveled to his clinic in Warsaw every day and came home late a night. The only day he spent with us was on Sunday. In summer, he took me on the river in a rowboat or kayak and in winter we cross-country skied. I liked to get up early in the morning to see him doing his exercises…when my father was dressed I brought him his shoes, and then we sat down to breakfast.”

Discussion Question

  • How would you describe Yurik’s childhood before the war? Cite examples from the text.

Shortly after Yurik’s brother, Kazik, was born, Yurik’s parents moved from Warsaw to a village, hoping to get away from the city. Yurik’s father, Maximilian Orlowski, was a doctor, and his mother Zofia assisted him at his clinic in the city. Yurik enjoyed reading books and playing adventure games with his brother. When the two reached school age, the Orlowski family returned to their Warsaw home. In 1939, following the outbreak of World War II, the Nazis invaded Poland and conquered the capital.

“And Then the War Broke Out..”

Student/Teacher Reading:

“I had read a lot of books before the war. [..] My favorites were war and adventure books. I liked to read about heroic grown-ups or children who went through all kinds of ordeals until everything turned out all right. Books with sad endings left me feeling queasy long after I had finished reading them. [..] The more I read, the more I envied the heroes I read about. Why didn’t anything ever happen to me? And then the war broke out, although even then it took me a while to realize what was happening to me.”

“Have you ever woken up in the morning and prayed for something, anything-a fever or not-too-bad storm, or even a little war – that would allow you to go back to sleep? It was as if my prayer had been answered.”

“The one thing my mother didn’t think of was air raids, after a month of which we found ourselves fleeing a building that had gone up in flames. You’ve probably seen such films in the movies: fire shooting out of the windows, timbers cracking from the heat, walls crashing down, screaming people jumping from upper stories. We ran down the street, my mother holding our hands. The sparks flying through the air kept catching my brother’s jacket, and my Aunt Mela ran after him putting out the fires. […]
Once the burning buildings were behind us, we wandered the dark streets knocking on the gates of houses. Nobody let us in, because no one wanted a flood of refugees camping out in their backyard or stairwell…

Discussion Questions

  • How were wars portrayed in Yurik’s books? How did Yurik imagine them?
  • How does Yurik remember the outbreak of the Second World War?

Life in the Ghetto

With the outbreak of the Second World War, Yurik’s father was drafted into the Polish army. At the end of 1940, the nine-year-old was forced into the ghetto along with his family. The Warsaw Ghetto was a cordoned-off area that housed some 450,000 Jews in extremely cramped conditions. The situation in the ghetto was extremely harsh: Many Jews succumbed to disease and illness, and children were particularly at risk. In an effort to cope with this difficult new reality, Yurik and his brother made up stories.

Student/Teacher Reading:

“The Germans crammed half a million Jews from Warsaw and the vicinity into the ghetto and built a wall around [it]. Hunger and disease spread there. [..] My mother gave me a sandwich everyday for my morning snack. [..] I always saw plenty of dead bodies that had been laid out on the sidewalk before dawn and covered with newspapers. You could tell from the length which were children. On my way back from Miss Landau’s they were gone.
Some people were so hungry that they became known as “snatchers.” The snatchers snatched anything that looked like food and stuffed it in their mouths before you could grab it back. One day one snatched my sandwich.”

“One day I made up a story that everything that had happened – the war, the ghetto, the Holocaust – was a dream. I was the son of the emperor of China, and my father, the emperor, had ordered my bed placed on a large platform and surrounded by twenty wise mandarins (they were called “mandarins” because each had a mandarin orange attached to the top of his hat.) My father had ordered them to put me to sleep and make me dream what I did so that when I became emperor myself one day, I would know how terrible wars were and never start any [sic]. My brother never tired of this story. Whenever anything scary or dangerous happened to us, he would ask for it.

Discussion Questions

  • What role do imagination and role-playing serve in Yurik’s existence in the ghetto?
  • What can we learn from these excerpts about Yurik’s relationship with his younger brother?

Appendix B


Bystander Scenes From the memoir

All But My Life

            By Gerda Weissmann Klein


Scene 1:  The Neighbors

A swastika was flying from the house across the street.  My God!  They seemed prepared.  All but us, they knew.  A big truck filled with German soldiers was parked across the street.  Our neighbors were serving them wine and cakes, and screaming as though drunk with joy, “Heil Hitler!  Long live the Fuhrer!  We thank thee for our liberation!” I couldn’t understand it.  What are those people doing?  The same people I had known all my life.  They have betrayed us.

I looked out the window and there was Trude, a girl I had known since childhood.  She and her grandmother lived rent-free in a two-room in our basement in return for laundry service.  Now I saw her carrying flowers from our garden, white roses of which we had been so proud because they bloomed out of season.  She handed them to a soldier, breaking her tongue with the unfamiliar German, “Heil Hitler!”  I started sobbing, crying, releasing all my emotions and anxieties in that outburst.  Artur jumped over to me, put his hand over my mouth.  “Are you crazy?  Do you want to give us away?”






Appendix C


Where We Stand



Scenario: During lunch period a girls is making her way through the lunch line when a classmate approaches to ask if she can cut in front of her place in line.  The girl replies no, saying that it isn’t fair to the people behind her.  Annoyed, the other girl shoves her forcefully and takes her place in line.


Action:  Seeing this, you decide to tell a teacher.




Scenario: Your friend is being mistreated on the bus.  Every day she sits beside you, and another girl bothers her by pulling her hair, making mean comments about her outfits and saying rude things about her mother.  Your friend tries to ignore her taunts, but often she ends up crying.


Action:  One day you decide to take matters into your own hands, and when the girl starts to bother your friend, you turn around and tell her to cut it out or else you’re going to tell the bus driver.




Scenario: You learn that some of your schoolmates have created an exclusive list naming the “cute kids” in your grade.  The list also includes comments like, “Why is so-and-so on there?  We all know he’s ugly.”


Action:  Even though you haven’t seen the list for yourself, you decide to tell your teacher that you’ve heard it exists.




Scenario:  When you try to enter the bathroom at school, you see a younger student in tears.  Three older students told him that he cannot use the bathroom.  They have blocked the doors to the stalls as well as the exit.  The older student blocking the entrance says to you, “You can’t come in, and if you say anything you’ll be next.”


Action:  you leave and find another bathroom to use, saying nothing, because those kids were really big.







Scenario: During lunch period a girls is making her way through the lunch line when a classmate approaches to ask if she can cut in front of her place in line.  The girl replies no, saying that it isn’t fair to the people behind her.  Annoyed, the other girl shoves her forcefully and takes her place in line.


Action:  Seeing this, you decide to tell a teacher.



AGREE:   Why?  Explain













NOT SURE:  Why?  Explain

















DISAGREE:  Why?  Explain








Scenario: Your friend is being mistreated on the bus.  Every day she sits beside you, and another girl bothers her by pulling her hair, making mean comments about her outfits and saying rude things about her mother.  Your friend tries to ignore her taunts, but often she ends up crying.


Action:  One day you decide to take matters into your own hands, and when the girl starts to bother your friend, you turn around and tell her to cut it out or else you’re going to tell the bus driver.



AGREE:  Why?  Explain












NOT SURE:  Why?  Explain
















DISAGREE:  Why?  Explain









Scenario: You learn that some of your schoolmates have created an exclusive list naming the “cute kids” in your grade.  The list also includes comments like, “Why is so-and-so on there?  We all know he’s ugly.”


Action:  Even though you haven’t seen the list for yourself, you decide to tell your teacher that you’ve heard it exists.



AGREE:  Why?  Explain













NOT SURE:  Why?  Explain
















DISAGREE:  Why?  Explain








Scenario:  When you try to enter the bathroom at school, you see a younger student in tears.  Three older students told him that he cannot use the bathroom.  They have blocked the doors to the stalls as well as the exit.  The older student blocking the entrance says to you, “You can’t come in, and if you say anything you’ll be next.”


Action:  you leave and find another bathroom to use, saying nothing, because those kids were really big.


AGREE:  Why?  Explain













NOT SURE:  Why?  Explain
















DISAGREE:  Why?  Explain



Key Ideas and Details:

Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.

Determine two or more main ideas of a text and explain how they are supported by key details; summarize the text.

Explain the relationships or interactions between two or more individuals, events, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text based on specific information in the text.

Craft and Structure:

Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 5 topic or subject area.

Compare and contrast the overall structure (e.g., chronology, comparison, cause/effect, problem/solution) of events, ideas, concepts, or information in two or more texts.

Analyze multiple accounts of the same event or topic, noting important similarities and differences in the point of view they represent.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas:

Draw on information from multiple print or digital sources, demonstrating the ability to locate an answer to a question quickly or to solve a problem efficiently.

Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text, identifying which reasons and evidence support which point(s).

Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.

Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity:

By the end of the year, read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the grades 4-5 text complexity band independently and proficiently.

Kindergarten-Grade 12