Stand Up, Speak Out!

Bob Levin - Elk Grove High School

Subject Area: English
Grade Level: 11th

Overview: As our world becomes more mechanized, more digital, and more impatient, we are becoming more and more isolated and intolerant as a result. We no longer must meet our brethren, our detractors, or our skeptics face to face, but we can hide behind the facade of technology. However, this same barrier can be seen and used as an avenue to even greater insight into our world and a deeper dialogue with ourselves and our peers. In the unit, we will be using a multitude of technological devices and skills to allow the students an opportunity to dialogue with a survivor of the Holocaust, to view her story, and the story of other survivors, to read excerpts from essays and memoirs speaking to the themes of tolerance, survival, and hope. We are taking on the challenge of Gerda Wissmann Klein to: Stand Up and Speak Out!


  • Students will engage in discussion and introspection
  • Students will create, read aloud and publish their poems, using
  • Students will write a 350-500 word "This I Believe" essay, to be delivered and recorded using the NPR This I Believe format


  • Begin lesson with discussion of Human Nature QuickWrite (write for about 5 minutes): What would you like to change about human nature?
  • Review Gerda Weissmann Klein videoconference (we participated in this historic event in November 2010):


  • View One Survivor Remembers, the award-winning documentary on the captivating life of Gerda Weissmann while enslaved by the Nazis during WWII. (To receive a free copy, contact the Southern Poverty Law Center's Teaching Tolerance.)
  • Read a selection from Elie Wiesel's award-winning book, Night, such as PBS's excerpt.
  • Assign 100 Word QuickWrite
  • Introduce students to VoiceThread Poem Activity. Once they have created their poems, they will upload them to and record their readings
  • Review and discuss "This I Believe" samples and format
  • Have students create, read aloud, and record their "This I Believe" reflective essays


  • DVD player
  • LCD projector
  • Document camera or overhead projector
  • Internet access
  • Voice recorders

Lesson Resources:

Student Products: Coming soon!



  • Communicate and collaborate
  • Think critically, solve problems, and make decisions
  • Use technology effectively and productively

Common Core Standards:

  • English Language Arts:
    • Text Types and Purposes #3
    • Production and Distribution of Writing # 6
    • Integration of Knowledge and Ideas #7

California Content Standards:

  • English Language Arts - Grades 11-12
    • Expository Critique 2.6
    • Literary Response and Analysis 3.2
    • Writing Strategies 1.1, 1.5, 1.8
    • Speaking Applications 2.4
    • Listening and Speaking 2.5