The Ghettos

The purpose of this four day lesson is to allow students to identify key characteristics of the system of ghettos throughout Eastern Europe while also exploring events and experiences with specific ghettos.  These lessons were influenced by materials provided by Echoes and Reflections, USHMM, Gratz College and the film, The Pianist.  The first day of the lesson introduces students to the topic and has them participate in a collaborative learning exercise to analyze primary source materials related to the ghetto experience.  Day two of the lesson series focuses on testimonies of Jewish teenagers who were interned in the ghettos as excerpted from Salvaged Pages.  The third and final days exposes students to Hollywood's interpretation of life in the ghetto through the film, The Pianist.    The lessons are designed for an 86-minute block schedule.  Materials listed are only those materials I am sharing below, not all of the nuts and bolts (computer, projectors etc.) necessary to make the lesson work.


Core Lesson Concept:  In this lesson, students will begin by sharing their word associations with the term "ghetto".  They will then receive a more formalized version of the term's definition and evaluate a map of the ghettos of occupied Europe that is part of Lesson Four of the Echoes and Reflections Teacher Resource Binder.  Students will then hear the testimonies of two survivors of the Lodz Ghetto from this resource.  Following the initial introduction to the topic, students will then take part in a collaborative learning activity which will have them exploring six stations related to life in the ghettos - The establishment of the ghettos, The Warsaw Ghetto, The Lodz Ghetto, Written testimonies of the ghettos, Oral testimonies of the ghettos and Deportations from the ghettos.  Resources for the latter part of this lesson come from the USHMM Photo Archives, Echoes and Reflections, Yad Vashem and the guide "Teaching Strategies for Studying Ghettos Through Holocaust Documents" prepared Josey Fisher of Gratz College and Dr. Maureen Pelta, the chair of the Mordechai Anielewicz Creative Arts Competition.

Power Point
Materials for Collaborative Learning Activity


Core Lesson Concept:  In this lesson, students begin by reflecting on the previous day's activities and listing any questions that remain.  They then read a secondary source handout on "The Ghettos" from Echoes and Reflections and discuss the piece.  This helps to fill in some of the gaps from the previous day.  Following the initial reading, they then hear several excerpts from "Salvaged Pages" and respond to related questions.  The lesson ends with students viewing the film, "I'm Still Here" which is a companion to "Salvaged Pages".  The day ends with a reflective journal entry.

Lesson Plan
Power Point
“The Ghettos” Handout
Salvaged Pages Questions
Salvaged Pages Excerpt*
I’m Still Here DVD
Student Journals

* Contact me via e-mail for page numbers for these sections.


Core Lesson Concept:  In this lesson, students will view the film, "The Pianist", which is based on the wartime experiences of acclaimed composer and pianist Wladslaw Spilzman, a Polish Jew in Warsaw.  The film portrays not only the experiences of Spilzman but also the horrors of life within the Warsaw Ghetto.  Students follow along with a guided question sheet which culminates in a reflection writing.

The Pianist DVD
Additional Materials: