Context for the implementation
One of the topics we usually include in our Philosophy curriculum is the Holocaust and the impact that this tragic and devastating event had in Europe from 1941 to 1945. We always connect this topic to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and prepare reading suggestions for the second term of the school year. Few students in this group have read Anne Frank’s Diary and I thought it would be a good idea to use this Learning Scenario to learn about this Jewish girl and discuss tolerance and resilience. What happened to her and to millions of Jews and other minority groups in Europe during that period was an attack against human dignity. Anne Frank’s lockdown could also be compared to the situation students have lived in recently and are still living due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and this fact could help them empathize with her. From a historical, political, social or personal perspective, students should choose one of the entries in Anne Frank’s Diary and should reply to it with a letter.
Implementing the Learning Scenario
1st session at school – 18th December 2020 – 50 minutes
We dedicated the first session to explore the Europeana website. We looked for the Europeana resources recommended in the Learning Scenario. Then, students did some research on Anne Frank’s life. Students were asked to choose one of the entries of Anne Frank in her diary and write a letter as a reply to it. A free pdf version of Anne Frank’s Diary was used for this task.
2nd session at home – 19th and 20th December 2020 – 40 minutes
After having chosen the entry of the Diary, students wrote a personal letter to Anne Frank. Students took this activity very seriously and they concentrated on it. Most of them wrote the letter at home and had time to reflect on Anne’s situation. Students empathized with her and wrote a supportive and touching letter.
3rd session at school – 21st December 2020 – 50 minutes
During the last lesson before the Christmas holidays, the students had their letters ready. Some of the letters were handwritten and some others were typed. During the lesson, some of the letters were read and students talked about their feelings when they wrote them. Students liked the activity very much and I felt happily surprised by the content of the letters because my students had connected with Anne Frank more than I had expected.
My students found the activity really engaging and considered that we could have dedicated more time to go deeper into Anne Frank’s Diary. They learnt about this Jewish girl that is a symbol of the violation of human rights during the Holocaust and they freely expressed themselves writing the letter and exchanging their opinions with their classmates. My students put themselves in Anne Frank’s shoes and realized the importance of living in a democratic society that protects human dignity and rights. The pandemic situation we are living in, although it cannot be compared to a war, makes students understand the importance of health, freedom, solidarity and resilience.
I consider that the aims of this activity have been achieved and I feel really happy with the results.
I would suggest dedicating more sessions to this activity. If we had had some more time, we could have classified the letters by their content, as some of them are related to the war, some others to Anne’s feelings, some others to daily routines during the lockdown… We could also have done a little more research on the most relevant events of those years.
Europeana Resources used in the implementation
Did you find this story of implementation interesting? Why don’t you read about the related learning scenario?
Letters to Anne Frank (LS-RO-305) by Nadina Nicolici
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- Letters and Postcards From War Times (LS-MT-03)
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