We are a group of year 10 English teachers at
Open Access College in Adelaide, South
Open Access College is the distance education
school of the South Australian government
Department of Education and Children’s
The school provides education for over 2000
students from K-12, all of whom are isolated for
reasons including distance, medical,
psychological and family circumstances.
Classes are conducted by internet, telephone,
and snail mail.
The four of us collaborated during term 3
2010 on a year 10 English unit we titled
Multidisciplinary approach – an English unit
which could just as easily been a SOSE
(Studies of Society and Environment) unit.
Main themes: Racism and Identity
Could the Holocaust happen again today?
How can my schoolwork make a difference in
Communication – class discussion
Digital literacy – participation in an online
Formal essay writing skills
Students and staff attend an exhibition “Remember the
Holocaust” at the SA Migration Museum
All students watch the 2007 film “FreedomWriters”
Students were provided with additional resources on the
Holocaust and the events depicted in the movie through
the course Moodle
An exhibition curated by local
artist and Holocaust survivor
The exhibition included artefacts,
descriptions and multimedia
presentations of the Holocaust
Many students had little or no
prior knowledge of the Holocaust
Andrew Steiner generously spent
time with the students after they
had viewed the exhibition and
answered their questions
Set in Los Angeles in the
aftermath of the 1992riots
A young teacher inspires her
class of at-risk students to
learn tolerance, apply
themselves, and pursue
education beyond high
One of the activities she
employs with her students is
taking them to a Holocaust
Students will understand that words are
powerful, and that education can change
Students will understand the consequences
of racism on their own lives and the lives of
Classes meet weekly for 30-50 minutes, with
individual contact by phone and/or email between
students and teachers between classes.
Class discussions focussed on the content material
(Holocaust and the Movie) and the written tasks.
Three main assessment tasks:
▪ Interactive forum on the Moodle
▪ Text response – student response to short answer questions
▪ 800-1000 word Essay:
What did the 'Freedom Writers' learn about themselves in Erin
Gruwell's class? In your essay, refer to the themes of racism, gang
violence and alienation.
Students were required to make a minimum of 6
entries on the forum during the term.
First two posts: responses to the film and
exhibition/what you have learnt about the Holocaust
Other posts can be in response to your thoughts
during the unit.
Students who were struggling for inspiration were
encouraged to write about the themes of racism, gang
violence and alienation (i.e. chunking the essay)
Students were also encouraged to respond to
posts by other students
Increased awareness of racism and related
issues, both historically and in their own
Students explored other sources, including
books, films and websites, for more
information, and shared that information
with each other through the forum.
Very pleasing level of student engagement
with the whole unit.
Our students know very little about the
Holocaust, but once they learn a bit they
develop a thirst to learn much more.
Students do respond to sensitive and
Students can engage with issues of racism and
An asynchronous online forum is an ideal way to
allow students to express their ideas and interact
with each other on a controversial topic
Engage with students in another school who
were doing a similar study.
Draw more explicit links between historical
examples of racism and racist attitudes in
Encourage students to move from thought to