Index > Lesson 1: About This Lesson


This lesson provides an opportunity for students to discuss the value and importance of studying human catastrophes, in general, and the Holocaust, in particular. The lesson also provides an opportunity for students to consider the importance of examining both primary and secondary source materials when studying historical events and to begin to develop a common vocabulary for studying the Holocaust and other genocides.

This two-part lesson has material appropriate for history, social studies, Holocaust and genocide studies, and English/language arts classes. Instructional strategies and techniques used in the lesson include large-group discussion, small-group work, brainstorming, vocabulary building, comparing and contrasting information, analyzing primary and secondary source material, interpreting visual history testimony, and journaling.



After completing this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Differentiate between natural and human catastrophes.
  • Develop a rationale for studying human catastrophes.
  • Compare and contrast several definitions of the Holocaust.
  • Define genocide.
  • Differentiate between primary and secondary source materials and explain how each is important when studying historical events.
  • Summarize the causes and effects of the Kristallnacht Pogrom based on analysis of primary and secondary source materials.
  • Discuss both the content and the messages in a clip of visual history testimony.



Academic Standards

The materials in this lesson address the following national education standards:

Common Core State Standards

  • Reading Standards for Informational Text 6–12
  • Writing Standards 6–12
  • Speaking and Listening Standards 6–12
  • Language Standards 6–12
  • Reading Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies 6–12
  • Writing Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies 6–12

National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies

  • 2 – Time, Continuity, and Change
  • 5 – Individuals, Groups, and Institutions
  • 6 – Power, Authority, and Governance
  • 9 – Global Connections
  • 10 – Civic Ideals and Practices