Night by Elie Wiesel has become a staple in high school classrooms as a historical narrative. It is one of the most emotional pieces I’ve ever taught, and one of my main goals with this unit was for my students to respect the content. One of my biggest challenges was getting them to connect. Most students no longer have a connection to WWII and the Holocaust. Great grandparents who lived through it have mostly passed, or are thought too “boring” to talk to. They learn about WWII, but have become desensitized to it and don’t make real connections. One student didn’t realize that the book was “real.”
Below are the links to 3 unit bundles: projects/assignments, study guides, the unit test and essay. As per usual, answer keys are not provided due to the many prints and various page numbers, however they can be provided. I have page numbers listed for the study guides prior to purchase to give you an idea of how I broke down the book.
Some aspects not listed with the listings:
At about the midway point, I did what I call “round table.” With their completed/graded study guides, we sat down and discussed what had gone on in the book thus far, how they were feeling/thinking during certain parts, reviewed some questions they struggled with on the study guides, etc. I wrote many of the questions on note cards and handed them out to the students. I tried to make it as much of a student driven discussion as possible, only popping in when necessary. This was a great activity that allowed them to discuss, share, and connect. I did the same at the end of the book.
We had a shortened class due to weather, so I was able to find the interview of Elie Wiesel with Oprah Winfrey. It is on her website, and a few other places. During the interview they walk through Auschwitz and discuss his time there. We had a brief discussion at the end; I took notes while watching, and gave them a mini pop quiz to make sure they were paying attention the next day. Again, just a filler activity that helped give them visual and connection.
About the time we read the section where he is liberated, I got permission from my principal to show an excerpt from the HBO series Band of Brothers. It is available on Amazon Prime. At the end of the episode, the men come across an abandoned concentration camp. The language is not awful, but it is fairly graphic with emaciated people, dead bodies, naked men, etc. It was about a 7-10 min part, but even most of my boys had tears. It gave them something to visualize as they read that section, something more concrete to hold on to.