Using Echoes and Reflections In The Classroom

Educators often ask questions about using Echoes and Reflections in the classroom. Some of the questions we have received are shared below along with our responses.

We invite you to send your questions to as this page will be updated regularly.

Do the lessons and teaching strategies in Echoes and Reflections help teachers address Common Core State Standards?

Yes! Echoes and Reflections materials address Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies:

  • Primary sources, informational texts, literature excerpts, video testimony, and other information presented in different media and formats help students meet the challenges of reading, writing, and speaking and listening.
  • Lessons provide opportunities for students to develop and support arguments based on discipline-specific content, compare and contrast information presented in a variety of texts, integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information, and engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

This is my first time teaching about the Holocaust and there is so much to know and cover, where do I begin?

Educators new to teaching about the Holocaust are often overwhelmed by the amount of material available, especially if they have limited class time to devote to the topic. For those educators completely new to teaching about the Holocaust, we recommend time be spent on Lesson One: Studying the Holocaust. The first part of the lesson provides an opportunity to develop a common understanding of vocabulary associated with the Holocaust as well as to consider the importance of studying human catastrophes. The second part of the lesson introduces a variety of primary source materials, including visual history testimony, and allows students an opportunity to integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats in order to better understand a single event, the Kristallnacht Pogrom. Unless you are teaching a semester course on the Holocaust, it is likely that you will need to make choices about what specific topics to cover. Those decisions will likely be made based on your curriculum, for example, history teachers may want to include material from Lesson 8: Survivors and Liberators when teaching about World War II; English teachers may want to introduce students to materials in Lesson 5: The “Final Solution” when teaching Elie Wiesel’s Night. The modular nature of Echoes and Reflections allows teachers to select those lessons or parts of lessons that best meet their needs as well as the amount of time available to teach particular topics.

In what subject areas do you recommend using Echoes and Reflections?

Social studies, history, Holocaust and genocide studies, English/language arts, media, technology, and fine arts teachers can incorporate Echoes and Reflections into their curriculum. The primary source materials, visual history testimony, photographs, maps, artwork, informational texts, and literary selections represent a variety of perspectives in diverse formats and media, providing an entry point to the study of the Holocaust from many different disciplines.

I have a semester to teach about the Holocaust. Do you provide additional educational materials that I can use along with Echoes and Reflections?

Yes! Additional materials are available to complement the Teacher’s Resource Guide and enhance classroom instruction.

  • Additional primary source materials that align with the lessons are available on the website.
  • Biographical Profiles allow students to learn more about the lives of the survivors and other witnesses in Echoes and Reflections.
  • IWitness, developed by the USC Shoah Foundation, enhances and expands students’ opportunities to use visual history testimony in the classroom. This educational website allows teachers and students to search, watch, and learn from over 1,500 video testimonies, explore the individual stories from Echoes and Reflections in greater depth, and construct multimedia projects.

What should I focus on with limited time to devote to the Holocaust?

A comprehensive course on the Holocaust is not always possible which is why the modular design of Echoes and Reflections allows teachers to choose the content that works within a given timeframe. An abbreviated course of study on the Holocaust should include as many of the components listed below as possible. Opportunities are provided for students who wish to engage in a more in-depth study of the Holocaust through “Making Connections” found at the end of each Echoes and Reflections’ lesson, IWitness, and other complimentary online materials.

  • Definition of Holocaust and genocide (Lesson One)
  • Importance of primary and secondary source materials, including visual history testimony, when studying the Holocaust (Lesson One)
  • Origins of antisemitism (Lesson Two)
  • Prewar Jewish life in Germany (Lesson Two)
  • Antisemitism in Nazi ideology (Lesson Two)
  • Nazi propaganda (Lesson Two)
  • Breakdown of democracy in Germany between 1933–1939 (Lesson Three)
  • Anti-Jewish policy (Lesson Three)
  • The ghettos (Lesson Four)
  • Mobile killing squads and extermination camps (Lesson Five)
  • Jewish resistance (Lesson Six)
  • Political, legal, social, and emotional status of Jewish survivors (Lesson Eight)
  • Liberators (Lesson Eight)
  • Collaborators and bystanders (Lesson Nine)

How do I use video testimony in my class?

Visual history testimony, when combined with a standard written curriculum and provided with the proper historical context, is an unparalleled primary source material for teachers. Video testimony gives students an important and rare opportunity to connect with a survivor or other witnesses of the Holocaust and provides a human face to history. Guidelines for Using Visual History Testimony provides recommendations to prepare students to watch video testimony, to process what they have heard, and to consider contemporary connections.

Does this resource lend itself to interdisciplinary team teaching?

Absolutely. A study of the Holocaust as a human story extends beyond history and mandates that other fields of knowledge (e.g., literature, art, technology, philosophy) be incorporated. For example, Lesson 4: The Ghettos, includes maps, photographs, and informational text on the historical background of the ghettos as well as poems and diary entries, making the lesson conducive for a history and English/language arts teacher to team teach.

Does this program help students think about the Holocaust within the context of their own lives?

Yes. Classroom-ready materials and visual history testimony from Holocaust survivors and other witnesses encourage students to examine the harmful effects of stereotyping, prejudice, and racism in their own lives. Suggested activities in “Making Connections” provide pathways for students to explore contemporary topics.

I see that there is a 2014 edition of the Teacher’s Resource Guide. I am using an older version; should I be using the new version?

Educators who received a previous version of the Echoes and Reflections Teacher’s Resource Guide can and should continue to use this resource in their classrooms. It is by no means obsolete.  However, if interested, you can purchase a 2014 edition here.


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