A Little Explanation

The last entry - "Paper Clips" - was posted so I could access it in my classroom to help me teach the Holocaust. I ran across this inadvertently and I am so glad that I did. The school that I teach in is in an extremely rural area very similar to the one on the film. Part of my job as an educator is to educate my students about history so they can use it to change their world today. The state in which I teach has me spend just a small amount of time on this tragic event due to the age that I teach. I completely agree with that. However, I do think it needs to be taught.

Last year, I was told by an organization in NYC who sponsored an Holocaust Institute for teachers that I would not be allowed to participate because of the age level of my students. It angered me - and still does to this day - because ultimately, I decide what is appropriate for my students. Now, understand, I don't show them the atrocities of this time period, but I introduce them to the attitudes behind it and we discuss it maturely. I use literature that deals with this content on a 5th grade level to teach it as well. When I was denied the opportunity to learn more information to become a better teacher, I decided to do something about it. I would create a project in my classroom that would make them want me to be involved. So, the Paper Clips documentary was the start of my research.

Since then, I've discovered a wonderful book of poetry written by children that were in concentration camps during WWII. My students will be assigned a poem to study and learn. In response to the poem, the family will create a butterfly to represent the child who wrote the poem. All of the butterflies will be collected and hung in our classroom for a few days. At the end of our unit, parents will be invited to attend a poetry reading of the poems that we studied. At the end of that time, we will then cut down the butterflies of those children that did not survive.

Emotional - Most definitely. Powerful - Absolutely. Worth it - You better believe it.

I plan for it to be a very emotional day for my students because they will have built a relationship of this child in history. At the end, they will find out that 90% of all children that were in concentration camps did not survive. This will be one of those moments that live with them and with me for the rest of my life.

As of today, I've located 3 survivors in our area and hopefully will be able to arrange a visit. I'll keep you posted on the progress of this project.


Joe Fab said…
Dear Ms Looper - My name is Joe Fab. I wrote produced and co-directed PAPER CLIPS (and wrote half the lyrics for the song on your blog!). I'd like to give you some info that might be useful to you. If you could e-mail me your contact info (incl phone), I'll get in touch. My e-mail address is jfab@thejgroup.com.