Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8, 9-12

NOTE TO EDUCATORS: The movie featured in this lesson plan (Elie Wiesel) includes descriptions of the suffering endured by millions during the Holocaust, the systemic murder of European Jews during WWII. Due to the sensitivity of this topic, consider previewing the movie before showing it to the class.

In this lesson plan, adaptable for grades 5-12, students explore BrainPOP resources to learn about the life and work of Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel– activist, author, and Nobel Peace Prize winner. They’ll discover how his guilt and despair after liberation led to his determination to educate new generations about the Holocaust, and to stop other genocides around the world. Applying what they learn, students will use BrainPOP’s Make-a-Movie tool to produce a mini documentary about Wiesel’s life.  

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Analyze an Elie Wiesel quotation.
  2. Watch a BrainPOP movie about Wiesel.
  3. Complete a story map about Wiesel’s life.
  4. Produce and share a mini-documentary about Wiesel’s life.

Materials:

  • Internet access for BrainPOP
  • Interactive whiteboard

Preparation:

  • Preview the movie Elie Wiesel to plan for any adaptations.
  • Assign Make-a-Map and Make-a-Movie to the whole class.
  • Lesson Procedure:

    1. Display the Elie Wiesel quotation at the top of the close reading activity. Explain that these words were said by Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor and humanitarian, upon his acceptance the Nobel Peace Prize: “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” Ask students to brainstorm what they think this quotation means. Define any unknown words in the quotation, such as neutrality, oppressor, and tormentor. Jot students ideas on the board.
    2. Next, tell students that today they will watch a BrainPOP movie about Elie Wiesel and learn about the the Holocaust, one of the most tragic events in world history. They will find out about Wiesel’s memoir “Night”-- a haunting first-person account of his existence at two concentration camps. They will also discover how Wiesel worked tirelessly throughout his life to educate people about the Holocaust, and to stop other genocides around the world.
    3. Show the movie Elie Wiesel on the whiteboard to the whole class. Pause to explain and clarify as needed.
    4. Tell students to log on to their BrainPOP accounts and open the Make-a-Map assignment. Have them select one of the two storyboard templates. Instruct them to watch the movie again, this time putting in order the events of Elie Wiesel’s life.  
    5. When they complete their storyboards, have students open the Make-a-Movie assignment. Explain that they will now create a movie about Elie Wiesel’s life using their notes from the storyboard. If they are not familiar with the tool, you may want to model how to use it. Remind them that they can use the provided images as well as search related topics for more images.
    6. Circulate as students are producing their movies, helping as needed.
    7. When everyone has made a movie, divide the class into small groups and have students share their movies with their small groups.
    8. Now have students come together as a whole class again. Display Wiesel’s quotation from the beginning of the lesson. Ask students to add to or revise their thoughts about its meaning based on what they’ve learned.
    9. Finally, encourage students to ask any questions they might have about Elie Wiesel and/or the Holocaust. Allow time for a follow up discussion.

    Extension Activities:

    • Have students brainstorm ways they could spread peace and kindness, the opposite of the cruelty suffered by victims of the Holocaust. Point out that no act is too small, from standing up to a bully to visiting a lonely, older neighbor.
    • Assign the Quiz to the class and have students put their knowledge to the test.
    • Divide the class into groups of six. Have each person in the group read a different FYI. Then have them share what they learned with the group.