Holocaust & Genocide Studies Course @ RE Lee

The Class

This course will provide students with a more in depth look at the Holocaust and other contemporary world genocides. The first half of the course will include an examination of the sequence of events prior to and throughout the Holocaust, a look at the groups targeted by Hitler’s regime and the lasting impact of the Holocaust on American and world societies. The second half of the course will allow students to examine other incidents of genocide in the modern world and the role of America in the context of these conflicts. Participation in this course requires a signed parent permission slip. (1 elective credit)

The Resources

I used a great variety of resources in planning this course and have grouped them in order of the unit. You can reach each segment of my unit by using the navigation to the left. In each section, I have provided my lesson plans, development process and other information necessary to use the materials. All materials are copyrighted by me, unless otherwise noted.


Course Creation Process

I am often asked by other educators how I was able to create a Holocaust and Genocide Studies elective at my school and the steps that it took to create such a course.  I am in the fortunate position to have a school district and administration that supported the creation of a new elective, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, after I finished up my first year in Staunton City Schools.  I inquired about the possibility of creating this elective during the interview process and the process began in the Fall of 2012 during my first year at Robert E. Lee.  I brought to the table experience in creating and teaching two Holocaust-related electives in my previous district, Fleetwood Area School District (PA), extensive professional development experience in the subject area and a Master of Arts in Holocaust and Genocide Studies from West Chester University of Pennsylvania.

The first step of the process, after speaking with my principal and department chair, was to create a write-up of the course as it would potentially appear in the district's Program of Studies.  That document can be found here.

Following the approval of the principal and department chair, this document was then passed on the School Board for their review.  I asked if I would need to be present for this meeting; however, my administration felt that the description I had provided, combined with their knowledge of my professional background would not require my presence.  The course was approved and officially added to the Program of Studies for the 2013-14 school year.  

Upon securing course approval, I was asked to identify a textbook(s) that I wished to use for the course.  My first choice was to use a set of classroom Chromebooks; however, that was not in the budget so I was asked to select an actual text.  I had previously used Michael Berenbaum's The World Must Know (Second Edition), as I found it to be accessible to varying levels of readers with many pictures to also make it enticing to students.  I requested this text, as well as copies of Maus I & Maus II to continue participation in a book-sharing project that I had begun with a teacher in California while I was working at Fleetwood.  The downside of these selections it that I lack a specific text for the second half of our course, which focuses on contemporary genocide, but I supplement those 9 weeks with digital resources.

The course ran two sections with approximately 24 students each in the Fall of 2013.  It will be running again this fall with similar numbers.

I know that my experience in course creation is rather smooth compared to some of my colleagues, but I hope this is beneficial to those of you who have wondered how to get started.