Sixth-grade Holo­caust les­son recorded

Daily Press (Sunday) - - Local News - By Jes­sica Nolte Staff writer

Cam­era crew took video for teacher re­source web­site

When Grafton Mid­dle School teacher Jill David started her les­son about the Holo­caust for her sixth-grade English class Thurs­day af­ter­noon, she had a few ad­di­tional vis­i­tors.

A cam­era crew was there to record her les­son for dis­tri­bu­tion on the Holo­caust Teacher Re­source Cen­ter web­site.

David’s class will be the first of its kind on the web­site, which hosts re­sources, in­clud­ing les­son plans, es­says, book re­views and in­ter­views with sur­vivors.

“For me to be able to do this now — fi­nally — is just so ex­cit­ing,” said Mark Nataup­sky, pres­i­dent of New­port News-based Holo­caust Ed­u­ca­tion Foun­da­tion, Inc. “I can’t put it into words.”

He’s been work­ing to add recorded lessons since he started plan­ning the web­site in 1995.

As for David, she’s been teach­ing about the Holo­caust for 15 years. In 2014, she was awarded the Ruthi Sher­man Kroskin Ed­u­ca­tor Award for ex­cel­lence in Holo­caust ed­u­ca­tion spon­sored by the Holo­caust Com­mis­sion of the United Jewish Fed­er­a­tion of Tide­wa­ter.

David was the first teacher that the United Jewish Com­mu­nity of the Vir­ginia Penin­sula, Inc. rec­om­mended to present the les­son, Nataup­sky said.

He said many of her stu­dents have won awards for the cen­ter’s Holo­caust writ­ing com­pe­ti­tion.

“Ob­vi­ously I think it’s im­por­tant for the Holo­caust to be taught and go through the gen­er­a­tions so the kids know the story,” David said.

This was her first time teach­ing her les­son to sixth-graders. In pre­vi­ous years, her Holo­caust lessons were for her sev­enth- and eighth- grade stu­dents.

One of the big­gest chal­lenges of teach­ing the younger stu­dents is their ma­tu­rity, she said.

But she said the dif­fer­ence in ma­tu­rity from Septem­ber to Jan­uary for sixth-grade stu­dents is “huge.”

Ev­ery­thing from their at­ten­tion span to their abil­ity to ver­bal­ize what they see and think im­proves, David said. So that’s why she’s waited un­til now to teach the les­son.

While she was aware of Nataup­sky’s web­site, she said she gath­ered all of her own re­sources and cre­ated her own les­son plans for the class. Most of her ma­te­ri­als came from the United States Holo­caust Me­mo­rial Mu­seum in Washington, D.C.

As the class started, David asked all of the stu­dents to write down the in­for­ma­tion they al­ready knew about the Holo­caust, but she as­sured them that it was OK if they didn’t know any­thing com­ing into the les­son.

Look­ing around at their pa­pers, some of the stu­dents were able to list five or six things they knew prior to the class, while other stu­dents wrote that they weren’t sure or didn’t know any­thing.

One stu­dent, Jo­ce­lyn Dou­glas, said she knew about the Holo­caust be­fore the les­son, but she didn’t re­al­ize how many peo­ple sur­vived. She ini­tially thought that al­most ev­ery­one died.

Dou­glas said the pic­ture that ac­com­pa­nied the poem “To the Lit­tle Pol­ish Boy Stand­ing with His Arms Up” by Peter Fis­chl, re­ally “got me think­ing.”

“I know the lessons about the Holo­caust teach the kids to be kind to each other and teach them about re­spect and ev­ery­one be­ing equal,” David said.

And ev­ery year she says stu­dents come back to talk to her about what the les­son meant to them.

Nataup­sky wants to make ac­cu­rate and qual­ity in­for­ma­tion avail­able to any­one who wants to learn. David’s recorded les­son and all of the other re­sources avail­able on his web­site are free.

“I’m hop­ing peo­ple will find the les­son mean­ing­ful and help­ful,” Nataup­sky said. “I want it to show teach­ers a very good way that they can teach sixth-grade classes about the Holo­caust.” Jes­sica Nolte, 757-247-4513, [email protected]­ly­press.com, @jes­si­cam­nolte

ROB OSTERMAIER/STAFF

Grafton Mid­dle School sixth-graders work dur­ing a class on the Holo­caust taught by Jill David.

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