Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Who would have guessed!

Last week I attended an educator's conference sponsored by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and a local college. If nothing else I was at least hoping to "network" with other teachers. As the English department at my school, I find these types of occasions stimulating and refreshing. Despite the fact that much of the information was a repeat at this particular conference, overall it was even better than I expected. Who would have guessed that Nebraska has a Holocaust Educators Consortium? Not me. I met other teachers from the "more populated" areas of the state that are Fellows of the USHMM and have the same passion for teaching the Holocaust as I do. Also, a local college professor is planning to host a summer rural institute for the Nebraska Writing Project and she asked me to co-facilitate it. We are going to have a dual focus of place based education linked with Holocaust/humanitarian education. It's really exciting and I'm still floored that I didn't know about all of this before last week!

One of the greatest parts was meeting another Holocaust survivor...from Omaha. Her name is Bea Karp and her story, like all the others, was amazing and emotional. The Holocaust Educators Consortium and the Anti-Defamation League of Omaha are going to be in contact with me about having a local survivor and other experts on teaching Judaism visit our school. Even though this conference wasn't connected to our summer seminar, it definitely was the catalyst for these opportunities.
Holocaust Survivor, Bea Karp

This upcoming week will be exciting, too. Larry and I are going to begin the blog shared between our students. They'll be discussing Night and other issues such as identity. We (and our students) are really looking forward to this new adventure! We'll be sure to give you all the address so you can see the discussions.

I hope everyone is having a tremendous year! I can't wait to see many of you in San Antonio.


Saturday, September 13, 2008

How Exciting

Thomas and Larry, congrats on being "Googled". I have Holocaust listed as an independent news search on my I-Google. You guys came up as the third article!!!! If you want to see it, follow the link:
Great photo, Thomas.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Identity boxes, blogging, listserves, NCTE, and staying in touch

Hello everyone,
It's great to get back here and hear what you are doing. It sounds as if many of you are off to a great start. I, too, began teaching last week and am beginning a freshman seminar on the Arts in NYC with identity boxes and the "Where I'm From" poem. We also have a blog (thank you, Larry, for showing me the power of blogging) and I intend to post my students' readings/performances of their poems in a few weeks.

That said, we want to invite you to begin posting your news updates, classroom stories, and ideas about curriculum on the HEN listserve. We don't want to disable the blog....but we do want to integrate your group with the two other groups who have participated in the summer seminar. As we understand it, the blog is not able to accomodate all of us. To get started, you will all soon be receiving an email from Jennifer about the HEN listserve (hosted by the National Writing Project) and what you need to do if you haven't yet registered. We may lose some of the graphics and exciting images of our blog, but the HEN listserve will enable you to share your thinking, questions, and reflections about teaching the Holocaust with the participants from 2006 nad 2007. I know these teachers will be delighted to hear about what you are doing and they will also be able to share their own classroom work and to respond to queries about books, films, and other Holocaust-related issues with great insight and wisdom.

Certainly, we can keep both going....and see how we feel about the way these different technologies work. If we prefer to stay with the blog, we can. But we hope you will give the HEN listserve a try. And for sure, the main thing is that we continue to find ways to stay in touch.

Finally, I hope we will see as many of you as possible at NCTE.

All the best to all of you,

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Well, the school year is off to a start. I began with identity. I decided, based on what we did this summer, to use one word themes throughout the year and connect the lessons to these themes. First, like we did, I wanted the students to consider how they connect to the world around them. I had each create an identity web labeling themselves with all the things they can use to answer the prompt "I am...". I was impressed with the depth they used to describe themselves. We then used these labels to find common themes that we use to define an identity, like nationality, religion, common interests, physical traits, etc. I almost fell over when my afternoon classes (I have 6) took a sudden jump and chose "stereotypes". They decided and understood that some part of our identity comes from the labels thrust upon us by others. Ooooohhhh. So exciting!!

Next we will work on a personal narrative in preparation for the next step in the progression. The students are going to interview someone they know (or I will locate for them) who was alive during WWII. I put the limit at 70 years or older. I would love to see what the kids will discover in these conversations.

Thank you all for the excitement of my year. I love my job. I never thought I could love it even more...but I do!

We are proud of Risha

Hi everyone. We miss all of you very much. We are very proud of Richa's ideas and will be supporting her financially and otherwise to help make her project a great success. We look forward to more of our summer particpants undertaking bold projects to effectuate the process of teaching the lessons of the Holocaust. We will supply you with books and the means to bring in a survivor to speak to your class or better still to your school. Here's to a better world through education. Best regards from all of us.

David A. Field, Vice President, Memorial Library