There's few things that grasp my student's attention more than our Holocaust study. The study actually begins in a secretive manner. To begin, we read and complete my Ender's Game unit. While it may seem odd to start a Holocaust study with a work of Science Fiction; that's where the cool part comes in. When we finish the novel, I let the students know that they have just read a metaphorical version of the Holocaust! Mind blown is complete.
After Ender's Game, we complete my Diary of Anne Frank (play version) unit. This is when the students get a first-hand account of the struggles so many people endured during this horrific time in history. One successful activity that I had my students engage in during this study is shown in the video provided. I taped off a small square area within the classroom. While working on a group mural project (with regards to the play), groups had to sit in the square for the class period, completing their work, while not being allowed to speak. The objective was to have them experience cramped conditions, while having to be quiet for a length of time (just has Anne and those in the Annex had to endure during working hours, in the office below their hiding area.)
Once our Anne Frank study is complete, the students culminate our Holocaust study with an artistic piece. The components include an abstract work of art along with a sonnet explaining their representation. As we are completing this activity right now . . . come back to see the wondrous work my students achieve.
Below you can see some of my students beginning their abstract art. The main criteria is that they can only use colors and symbols to represent what the Holocaust means to them. We've already taken notes on color and symbol meanings (i.e. red = anger, triangle = unstable, etc.)