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Collaborative Learning Stations, Part One: Historical Background to The Diary of Anne Frank

By Lenzi Hart

This lesson plan is intended to help you establish "stations" for background information on the Holocaust. Using the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum website, students will learn about the key aspects of the Holocaust to gain well-balanced knowledge of one of history's most tragic events.

Green Station: German Rule

When establishing your collaborative learning stations to teach the Holocaust, you want to make sure you don't overwhelm the The Diary of Anne Frank students with too much information. The Holocaust Memorial Museum website covers some interesting topics under the heading, "German Rule". As you can see, there are several topics with a wealth of information.

If you printed off each of these articles and placed them in your Green Station folder, it would be entirely too much for your students to comprehend in the short rotation sessions you are giving them. Each session at a station should last only fifteen or so minutes. If you are block-scheduled, you may be able to allow students to work at stations longer, but I would shoot for information and activities that only take twenty minutes to complete.

At this station, I would focus on how and why Hitler came to power and what effect he had on the German people. Print this article about Hitler or set up two laptops that have the link already pulled up for students to read. Create questions that force students to analyze the time line displayed on the web page. It is very important that students recognize the other events going on in the world and how those events contributed to Hitler's rise to power. You may even have long sheets of butcher paper on the Green Station table or 11x17 pieces of paper for students to create their own time line after reading the article. Being able to read time lines correctly and also to create them are important reading skills for students to develop, and this activity will give students practice with both.

After completing the time line activity, have students watch the Video of Hitler performing his speech to the German people. Create questions that probe students' thoughts for their reactions to Hitler's dynamic speaking style. What do they notice about his gestures, volume, and enthusiasm? Even though they may not understand German, students will be able to see the personality behind Hitler the man and have some sort of understanding of his enigmatic speaking abilities.

Blue Station: German Propaganda

Just like the Green Station, you can print the USHMM article on German Propaganda, or have it available for students to read online. Either way, students need to read about the establishment of organized propaganda and how it played a part in bystander tolerance of Jewish persecution.

Using a laptop at the Blue Station, encourage students to visit the online propaganda exhibit that the USHMM has established, or you may want to select five or six images to print and have available at the table for students to study and analyze. Have them answer the questions below on a notecard, or add the questions on a compiled worksheet with questions for each station.

A few questions to ask about Propaganda:

  1. Describe the image. What is the main focus of the image?
  2. Read the description of the image. What is the intended purpose of the image? Why would Hitler use this image to promote Third Reich power?
  3. Find three or more images depicting Jews. What are the common characteristics of each image?

Purple Station: Escalating Hatred

This station should be devoted to the study of the Nuremberg Laws, Kristallnacht, and the Pyramid of Hate. Students need to see how easy it was for hatred to grow and proliferate under German rule. Use the USHMM article that discusses the important facts of the Nuremberg laws, then have students create a compare/contrast chart that depicts what Jews couldn't do under the Nuremberg Laws and what freedoms they currently enjoy without restrictive laws. The chart can be a simple t-chart or you can create your own chart to add to your compiled station document.

Also, print pictures to complement the article, such a Chart Illustrating the Nuremberg Laws and other images found on the Museum website. Students can also use the pictures to help them out on their compare/contrast chart.

After teaching the students facts about the Nuremberg Laws, it is vital that you expose students to how the violence and hatred toward Jews escalated. Kristallnacht, or "the night of broken glass," was what many say is "the spark that ignited the Holocaust". Again, using the USHMM website, set up a laptop computer that will allow students to explore the online exhibit dedicated solely to Kristallnacht. This web page will also provide you with links to printable photos and videos of survivor testimonies.

The final lesson in this station involves the use of an image called "The Pyramid of Hate." Print the PDF image of the pyramid. Create questions on your document that require students to analyze the Nuremberg Laws and Kristallnacht by labeling them with the corresponding step of The Pyramid of Hate. The link will also provide you with other lesson ideas for teaching this topic.

This is the first article in a two-part series utilizing teaching stations. Continue to Part Two.