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Unit Overview

Subject: English
Unit Title: The Holocaust
Grade Level: 9
Duration: 5 weeks
Names: Andrew Wu
Theme: Genocide and hope
Topic Rationale:
This unit analyzes the holocaust, hate, genocide, and hope through the lens of poetry and film.
Rather than a straightforward, fact/date-based piece, this unit will instead focus on the human side of this
tragedy. Over the course of five weeks students will examine a number of holocaust poems and the movie
Schindlers List as well as poetry by Emily Dickinson and Maya Angelou. In doing so, the unit will
introduce the raw pain of the event as well as the power of hope in surviving and flourishing in spite of it.
The unit is designed to encourage empathy, respect, and resilience.
Integrated in the poetry readings will be a focus on technical aspects such as rhyme,
personification, symbolism, metaphor, simile, and repetition. This knowledge will cross over into the
viewing of Schindlers List, a text that will be viewed as a piece of art and activism as well as one on
historical fact. It will also reappear in the culminating project- an original piece of poetic writing. These
particular aspects have been selected specifically because they reappear in a variety of mediums
throughout high school, media, and advertising. And, as such, they will be of utility beyond the immediate
Additionally, the causes for the holocaust and other genocides will be layered throughout.
Namely, dehumanization, unfamiliarity, isolation, stereotyping, and a lack of dialogue. Concepts
represented vividly in the poetry and film. These, unfortunately, are ubiquitous in the past and the present
and they can be applied to students lives. In the culminating project, students will synthesize their
knowledge of stereotyping, hatred, genocide, with their technical poetic skill to write a poem that resists
the stereotypes that are placed upon them. As a class, the artificial boundaries that contribute to hatred can
be broken down through personal story-telling.
1. Outline of the progression and causes of the holocaust.
2. The holocaust through the eyes and poetry of the victims.
3. The holocaust represented by Schindlers List.
4. Identifying current threats of stereotyping/hatred in a local context.
5. Resisting stereotypes and opening a dialogue through original poetic writing.
Focus Questions:
1. Why did the holocaust happen?
2. What are the causes of hatred and genocide?
3. What was it like to be a victim of hatred and violence?
4. What is the role of hope in situations like this?
5. How can poetry work to resist stereotyping and encourage empathy?