The Missouri Reader Vol. 41, Issue 1 - Page 37



I believe videos can be very effective in a history class, because they can provide students with the “cultural and social contexts” (Fuller, 1999, para. 1) needed to better connect with difficult readings and lectures. On the third day, I wanted my students to better understand the atrocities of the Holocaust so I showed them the film, One Day in Auschwitz (Maceonc, 2015). In the film, Kitty Hart Moxon, an Auschwitz survivor, returns to the camp with two high school aged girls to give them a tour and talk to them about what she and others experienced when they were prisoners there. As they were watching the film, I asked my students to take notes on what they saw, things people said, and the emotions that were being shown. We spent the last bit of the class period sharing what they wrote down.

To begin the fourth day, I told my students they had all been arrested and put into a concentration camp. I told them to think about the film they had watched on the previous day, and to write about what life was like for their individual now that they were living in a concentration camp. I reminded the students to include a lot of description in their writing. At the end of the class, some students volunteered to read their diary entries.

On the final day of the unit, I began class by telling the students they would be completing their final writing piece after finding out if their individual lived or died. If the individual they had been journaling about lived, they would write a diary entry detailing what that person went on to do after the end of the Holocaust. If their person died during the Holocaust, I asked the students to write an obituary for them as a way to pay tribute and respect to them. I went around the room and met with each student, giving them a small amount of information regarding the survival or death of their person, and gave them the rest of the class period to write their diary entry or obituary.

Overall, I felt this was a great experience for the students. The students were engaged and it created an opportunity for them to experience empathy for others. It also allowed them to exercise literacy skills in a way that furthered their historical inquiry. I always enjoy teaching with primary sources because I feel they provide excellent sources of information for history students. However, this time the primary sources were given an opportunity to come alive.


Allison, B. (2015). Holocaust victim id cards. The Literary Maven. Retrieved from

Fuller, K. (1999). Lessons from the screen: Film and video in the classroom. American Historical Association. Retrieved from

Maceonc. (2015, April 7). One day in Auschwitz [Video file]. Retrieved from v=mZYgzW2fS0o&t=42s.

Vacca, R., Vacca, J., & Mraz, M. (2014). Content area reading: Literacy and learning across the

curriculum. Boston, MA: Pearson.

Yilmaz, K., (2008). A vision of history teaching and learning: Thoughts on history education in secondary schools. High School Journal, 92(2), 37-46.

Miranda Livingston has taught at SCORE, Nixa’s alternative high school, for 9 years. She holds a Bachelor's degree in History and a Master's degree in Literacy. She is passionate about helping students realize the relevancy of historical events in their own lives.