AN OUTLINE SUMMARY OF SEVEN ELEMENTS FOR TEACHING
Shelly Ganiel, Yeshiva Tichonit Hispin
We had a class discussion about WWII in Europe and the Holocaust. I spoke
to the History teacher beforehand and he had prepared a lesson on this so
that the students were quite knowledgeable about the topic and we were able
to have a good discussion. We ended with talking about those "righteous
Gentiles" who helped Jews like Wallenberg and the Japanese Diplomat.
Objective: This was to introduce the class to the book about Oscar Schindler
and how he, as a German, helped the Jews in WWII.
2/3. BASIC UNDERSTANDING (LOTS) AND WHILE READING: (Vocabulary
and Basic Questions of Understanding)
Deductive Methodology—Stage 1:
a) I began by reading the book, chapter by chapter. Students asked
about words they didn't understand or foreign expressions unknown to
them. Many were glossed in the book. The others were explained
either by other students or by me.
Deductive Methodology—Stage 2:
b) I had prepared a booklet of basic questions for each chapter with
summary questions after every 3-4 chapters. The students had to
finish reading the chapter we had read in class (if I hadn't done so) and
answer the questions in their booklets for homework. This was an
excellent way to go over what we had done in class. It also helped
them when reviewing the material for the "Summative Assessment".
Task: Do the work in the booklet. This counted as 10% of the unit grade.
Examples of LOTS questions:
1. During what years does the story take place?
2. What kind of family life did Oscar have?
3. What was Itzhak Stern's job?
4. Who was the SS boss of the Cracow ghetto?
5. What was the job of the four jewelers?
As we read the book, I introduced several literary terms that I felt were
appropriate for understanding this novel.
a) Characterization: We discussed how the main characters are described
by the author and how they develop and change in the text.
b) Conflict: Throughout the book, there are conflicts. I had the students
look for them and talk about them. (i.e. Schindler with the Nazi
ideology, Schindler against Goeth, etc.)
c) Foreshadowing: Kenneally often introduced elements that hinted at
what was to come. Sometimes the students caught this. If not, I
pointed it out. (i.e. Schindler sees plans for mass extermination in
1941, before the wholesale gassing began. Therefore he believed the
stories of a few who escaped and returned to the ghetto and told about
d) Plot: We discussed how the plot develops as the story goes on. (i.e. In
the beginning, Oscar Schindler just wants to make money. In the end,
the money is no longer important. Saving "his Jews" becomes
paramount to Schindler.)
e) Setting: This we explained when first starting the text. The setting is
WWII, but the cities in Poland/Czechoslovakia change as Schindler
moves his factory.
f) Suspense: I often stopped reading a chapter just when the suspense
was high. (i.e. In Chapter 11, three hundred of "Oscar's Women" are
sent to Auschwitz instead of Brinnlitz.) I let the students finish the
chapter on their own. Many sat and continued reading into the next
lesson (not English) and then ran to tell me that Schindler saved "his
women". They felt the suspense and couldn't wait to see what would
g) Theme: The class decided on the theme of the novel and saw that it
followed though to the end. (i.e. How one "Good Non-Jew" was able to
save 1200 Jews during the horrors of WWII.)
4. ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION: SPIRALING IN PREVIOUSLY
LEARNED THINKING SKILLS AND INTRODUCTION OF NEW THINKING
a) Comparison and Contrast (Spiraled in)
At the end of Chapter 6, the characterizations of Schindler and Goeth are very
clear. I had the class break up into groups of 3-4 students each. The groups
had to make a graphic organizer comparing the 2 characters using six
different parameters. After fifteen minutes I had them present their work to
the rest of the class. Then I typed up a page with their work for the log. If the
student participated, he got 5% in the final unit evaluation.
b) Generating Possibilities (Spiraled in)
1. In Chapter 4, there is a story about a little girl named Genia. I asked the
students to write a short composition (40-50 words) about: "What do you think
her life was like before and after the war?" This was graded and put in the log
(5% of the unit grade).
We discussed the various possibilities that the students had given. A very
active and lively discussion arose as students disagreed with each other.
Since there is no documentation about Genia other that the episode in the
text, no answer could be considered wrong.
2. After finishing Chapter 11, I asked the students:"Why did the Nazis
murder so many Jews but helped small numbers of them?" This
question was the result of the story of how Pfefferberg got his name on
The class divided up into groups. They had to give four reasons to answer
the above question. The groups presented their ideas to the class and we
discussed them. Many were rejected as not being accurate or realistic. I then
typed up a page of their work for the log. If a student participated, he got 5%
in the final unit evaluation.
4c. DEDUCTIVE METHODOLOGY—STAGE 3: Introduction of New Thinking
1. I used Inductive Methodology #1 to introduce the skill of
Stage 1: Reading text (See elements 2/3)
Stage 2: Checking comprehension through LOTS (See elements 2/3)
Stage 3: Introduction of thinking Skills (See elements 4a/b)
Stage 4: Application of HOTS to text (See element 4c)
|Stage 5: Application of HOTS to other areas (See element 5)
I wanted to introduce the thinking skills of CLASSIFYING. I wrote 18 items on
the board in a disorderly way (6 foods, 6 classroom items, 6 colors). I asked
the class what these items were and how I could somehow make order out of
Right away the students said to put them in groups: colors, food, classroom
things. This we did together, on the board. When I asked them what we did
they said we were making a selection or classifying different kinds of items. I
agreed with them and explained that this thinking skill is class CLASSIFYING.
We then discussed when we would use this skill in real life. (i.e. in the army,
in school—like for English levels, etc.)
Now I gave them a page with about 30 names of characters from the text. I
asked them to work in groups and classify the names according to: Jews,
"Good" Nazis or Nazis. Each student worked on his own page but they were
able to work together. It was a positive way to get them to review the people
in the text. This took them about half an hour. We went over this in class by
having students put the names on the board in the correct columns. Students
who participated in the activity and handed in their page to be checked were
given 5% in the final unit evaluation.
2. I used Inductive Methodology to introduce the skill of UNCOVERING
a) I prepared cards with the names of nine people from the novel.
b) I arranged three chairs facing the class.
c) I asked for three "volunteers" and gave each one a card with a name.
These students were now the people whose name they had on the
d) The rest of the students were told to ask them questions about their
actions, their thoughts, their ideas, etc. according to the story.
e) Most of the questions (without my prodding) began with "Why did you
do this to so and so?" or "What were you thinking when you did such
and such an action?"
f) After several question to each "actor" new" students took the "Hot
Seat" and got new cards. We did this three times.
g) I told the students that I call this drama enactment "HOT SEAT". I
asked them what we had done just now. Answers were "understanding
the characters", "getting to know why the character did something", and
even "understanding the motives" of the characters.
I agreed that this is indeed the thinking skill of UNDERSTANDING
MOTIVES. The students really enjoyed the activity and understood
this new thinking skill very well.
3. I told the class I wanted to summarize the whole story. This is called
SYNTHESIS. It brings everything we read all together. We had an
excellent discussion of how learning about Schindler helped us to
understand the Holocaust and the "Good Non-Jews" better. We
summarized the whole story and its part in the history of WWII.
5. BRIDGING TEXT AND CONTEXT
a) We saw the movie "Schindler's List". First of all, it made the book
"come alive" for the students. Most had not seen the movie and sat
hypnotized for three hours. It synthesized the text and made the
people in the story real.
b) I arranged with the class' history teacher to go to "Yad Va Shem".
There we saw real documents concerning Schindler, Goeth and some
of Schindlers "children". They also saw a short documentary on
Goeth's trial. We went to the "Righteous Gentiles" path and found
Schindler's tree. We ended our trip with a visit to Schinlder's grave in a
special section on the Mt. of Olives. This brought the text right into
their lives and every student felt some kind of identification and greater
understanding of this difficult chapter in our history.
6. POST READING AND SUMMARY
The new thinking skills were actually all done post reading.
I prepare a "Summary Template" for each text that I teach. The "Template"
reviews all the above elements, making the students go over their exercises,
notes and the text again. It is a good way to review the unit. We usually do
this in class so that I know the students are doing their OWN work.
Task: Fill-in the "Summary Template". If the work is complete, the student
gets 5% in the final unit evaluation.
I prepare a page that explains the different thinking skills taught and reviewed
(spiraled in) in the unit. I also write out exactly which activities we did for each
skill. This reminds the students of the work we did when learning the skill in
order to make it clearer for them. Then I list three questions on reflections
which the students have to relate to.
Task: Do the "Reflections" task by answering the three questions. The work
is handed in and I give some kind of reaction to each student's work. If the
work is complete, the student gets 5% in the final evaluation.
8. SUMMATIVE ASSESSMENT
This is a written test done in class. It summarizes all the material learned in
the unit and requires the students to show their understanding of the text.
The students are allowed to use the text and all their notes and handouts
while doing the test but they must do their OWN work. This is worth 50% of
the unit grade.
The Ministry added this element this year. After two years of not having a
final test, I can say that this is a positive and important addition to the LOG
requirements. It definitely affects the grade and makes it more "realistic". It
requires me to really analyze what I've taught and to determine how I can
successfully test it. It is an excellent way to synthesize the unit.
9. ADDITIONAL HANDOUT
I prepare a page called "Checklist for the Evaluation of a Unit". The
percentages for each element change according to the text and the activities
done for each unit. Since the novel is the longest and most heavily weighted,
there are more activities required. (A poem has the minimum of four
This page also organizes each student's work so that he knows what he did
and what grade he received for each activity. And it makes it easier for me to
calculate the final unit grade.