Thursday, April 29, 2010

Creating a movie clip DVD

The problem all teachers face is finding time to get the information to our students. The resources are out there, and sometimes can be overwhelming. The number of documentaries, movies, and presentations available on DVD and on the internet allow teachers a wide variety of resources. While teaching an abbreviated lesson on the Holocaust, in an already constrained schedule, it will behoove teachers to preselect portions of media sources. Knowing the time for a segment to begin on DVD will help a teacher forward to the important part, but will still cost time as discs are traded in and out of the player, and the obligatory warnings play out. Wouldn’t it be nice to have all of the clips from each DVD in a central location, ready to just hit play? Wouldn’t be nice to move straight from “Schindler’s List” to “Escape from Sobibor”? Or how about contrasting the depictions of Hotel Milles Collins in “Hotel Rwanda” to those in “Sometimes in April”? To switch DVDs, teachers will lose time and students attention. So, how do we solve this problem?

Here is one solution: Cut the segments you want from DVD, and put them together on a separate data DVD, or play them from your computer in a media player. It is not as difficult as it may initially sound, nor as expensive. This is one solution to the problem, and it works if you have the time. The programs are designed as format converters, and enable ripping DVDs from a DVD drive to your hard drive.

1. You will need to download Magic Ripper. I use Magic Ripper on a regular basis. The cost is $35 for the program, and really comes in handy. This is a download from the site, and you will receive the registration code when you pay. Load it up, and you are ready to go.

2. Windows Movie Maker, which is a program available as a free download (if it isn’t already in your program list under the Start Menu).

3. A DVD drive. The drive must be able to read/play DVDs (can you watch movies on your computer? It should say DVD on the face of the drive, also). It is even better if you have a DVD burner, but is not required.

Ok. Now you are ready to begin:

a. Pop a DVD in the drive. Usually, Windows asks you what you want to do with this disc. Either choose to open Magic Ripper. If it doesn’t open automatically, start the program from the Start Menu, and it will read whatever disc is in the drive. From here, my expertise is in Magic Ripper, so let me drop a few hints: Make sure to save it somewhere you can find it (c:desktop, etc.), choose if you want subtitles on or not, and be sure to get the main set of chapters. If you have a disc with two to three segments (PBS mini- series will load several on one disc), be sure to choose the proper option. Look closely at this, as the extras will be offered up, also. Magic Ripper will tell you how many chapters are included, and that may be your only indication. Choose your output format (WMV, Ipod, AppleTV, AVI). WMV is Windows Media Video, and plays very well with Movie Maker. Click start. It will take between two and ten hours to convert.

b. Now that the movie is transferred over to the new format, open up Windows Movie Maker. Import the video into Movie Maker. Once it is imported, drag the file down to the bottom panel, and you can move to the section you want.

c. Find the exact point that you want to start with, and you can trim everything before that segment. Repeat by finding the end of the clip, and you can trim the extra.

d. Go to the File menu, and choose to “Publish Movie”. It is recommended that you publish the movie as a “DV-AVI”. From here, the media can be played back on the computer, burned to a DVD, or saved to a jump drive.

Windows offers software to burn the program onto a DVD if you have a burner and the time. This can be a time consuming process, but in the end, it can be worthwhile in that you build a collection of videos in a central location, ready to use, rather than searching, swapping, and losing the class.

List of movie clips recommended by MCHE:

· The Eternal Jew (9:00-22:01) to illustrate the Nazi racial attitude toward Jews

· Lodz Ghetto (6:40-12:03 and 23:30-28:23) to illustrate deteriorating conditions in the ghetto

· Shoah (Disc 1 1:54:56-2:09:44) to illustrate the killing method and the continual adjustments made by the Nazis

· Partisans of Vilna (20:40-36:17) to illustrate the decision making process for Jews thinking about armed resistance

· Shoah (Disc 1 44:17-1:03:10) to illustrate the attitudes of bystanders and collaborators

· Escape from Sobibor (First 18 minutes through the selection on the ramp) to illustrate the process

· Escape from Sobibor (46:44-54:05) to illustrate concept of collective responsibility

· The Last Days (21:07-43:50) to illustrate arrival, processing and living at Birkenau - if you have time in the class do (13:08-17:09 and 21:07-43:50) to include deportation and ghettoization

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Student tours of Deadly Medicine - a teacher's perspective

My colleague and I, took our students to the Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race exhibit. The field trip occurred prior to our coverage of World War II and the Holocaust so we included a pre-trip introduction to help our students glean as much as possible from our visit. We have been talking about the exhibit since we planned the trip in the fall so students were very aware of the upcoming experience. Since our students were well prepared, it was a worthwhile opportunity to help students further understand the complexities surrounding the Holocaust.

Pre-trip preparation:
We first talked with our students about prior knowledge of the Holocaust. Then, the term of eugenics was introduced. The provisions of the Treaty of Versailles were reviewed to set the political and economic stage of post WWI Europe.

As a class, we then watched the Curator’s overview from the USHMM website as well as read & discussed The Doctors Trial: The Medical Case of the Subsequent Nuremberg Proceedings. This helped to introduce students to the concept that politicians and doctors played a critical role in the implementation of the Final Solution.

When my colleague and I attended the Educator preview of the Deadly Medicine exhibit, we created an exhibit assignment that anchored the students throughout the actual exhibit. Click here for the assignment and teacher guide - the assignment is the first link on this page. We provided the assignment ahead of time so students knew our expectations upon arrival.

Field trip:
NARA rotated us through various stations. When a group entered the Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race they began Side 1 of the assignment which asked them to jot down two details for major themes throughout the exhibit on a graphic organizer. Side 2 provided an opportunity for students to select an option (video segment, photograph or propaganda poster) to help further reflect on the trip as well as choose a quote they found most significant.

Post-trip processing:
The next day back in class to process the trip, the following quote was displayed to begin class discussion.

“The question is whether we will ever be able to learn from history.”
Dr. Alexander Mitscherlich, German physician who
Served as an official observer at the Nuremberg Doctors Trial (1946-47)

Students shared their selected quote and what option they expanded upon for reflection. We placed the exhibit in context to its overall importance to our upcoming study of the Holocaust.

Students did a thorough job given a limited time frame. I was thoroughly impressed with their interest during the tour of the exhibit, thoughtful questions for our docents and then the obvious insights gained as we processed the trip.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Student tours of Deadly Medicine - a docent's perspective

I enjoy my interactions with students, teachers, other docents, and NARA & MCHE staff as a docent for Deadly Medicine. To docent the exhibit requires careful advance preparation in order to provide an effective and positive learning experience for both students and teachers.

For Deadly Medicine, MCHE, the USHMM, and the National Archives provided training about the content, the historical background, and the facility (National Archives) itself. While this training provided a brief overview, every docent with whom I’ve spoken felt the need to learn and research more—beginning with the exhibit materials and additional suggested resources.

I viewed the online exhibit at USHMM and the pertinent resources to Deadly Medicine on the museum site as well as sites recommended by the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education as I wanted to have site recommendations for students and teachers that I knew would provide accurate information to questions that needed more in-depth responses than I could provide. I also attended a session of the trainings given for teachers so I would have an idea of the background/materials they would have available.

Since most of the school groups would be spending between 30-45 minutes in the exhibit, I created an abbreviated tour guide. Using the brief introductions and summaries for the three sections of the exhibit from the guidebook provided in training, I created a framework for the tours I would lead. The exhibit provides a very intense experience for even those with in-depth knowledge of the Holocaust. Most students come to the exhibit with a minimal background in Holocaust study. To fully view and experience each section of the exhibit would require hours. I did not want students and teachers to feel overwhelmed before we even started.

At the beginning of the tour, I give a brief, general overview of what the group will be seeing and how the information will be presented. I check the students’ understanding of primary sources and describe some of the types used in the exhibit. We also discuss the term “eugenics” and their understanding of it—this gives me an idea of how much preparation they have received for the tour. Each of the three sections will include:

1) overview of the section pre-viewing

2) description of one or two specific exhibits to be sure to view carefully.

I give them about ten minutes to walk through each section, read the accompanying information, and ask questions as they go. At the end of the section, I summarize what they just saw and ask them to respond to one or two questions to check for their understanding and clarify any misconceptions about that section.

The key concepts I cover in the tour are as follows:

Section 1 –
eugenics in the U.S. & Europe, in Germany

why “race science” needed/used by the Nazis

how policies were instigated

  1. through propaganda
  2. through laws
  3. through education

Section 2 –
application of Nazi eugenics policies/racial ideology - strong versus weak

emphasis on family, women, “pure Germans”

sterilization/marriage laws

Nuremberg Laws


Section 3 –
T-4 program

killing squads to death camps

Final Solution

involvement of medical professionals, scientists, etc./accountability

Again—this a lot of information presented in a very short time frame. But I believe it’s important for students to hear the terminology and see it in the context of the exhibit.

It is sometimes necessary to adjust the amount of time spent in a given section as students become particularly engaged in a certain display/video. At the end of the exhibit, we discuss again why/how the Nazis used eugenics, how they delivered their message, and how the Final Solution was the end result of Nazi policies. Oftentimes, students want/need additional resources to answer specific questions they have. I encourage them to use the MCHE and USHMM websites for accurate information.

As a docent, I see firsthand the effects of the exhibit on students and their teachers. High school students are obviously far removed from this period in history. Unfortunately most students do not study the Holocaust for more than a few days, if that. This exhibit helps show students a piece of that history. The exhibit engages students using learning styles and presentation styles that are most appealing to the students—posters, videos, photos, artifacts, and accompanying written descriptions that are brief and easy to follow. Due to state standards and testing, students do cover propaganda techniques. This is an effective concept to use as a connection to various aspects of the exhibit.

I have led diverse student groups through the exhibit. Some came very well prepared with an activity to complete while in the exhibit (available on the MCHE website). Some came with minimal preparation (prior to their study of the Holocaust). But all of the students became engaged in the exhibit at some point, and many asked questions about what they saw. One memorable moment was when a young lady realized that she would have been labeled an undesirable, “life unworthy of life,” because of her race/ethnicity. The exhibit took on a whole new level of meaning for her.

I am sure that most students (most adults as well) continue to process what they see and learn from Deadly Medicine well after they have completed the brief tour. As a former teacher, I know that these experiences provide wonderful springboards of learning opportunities—for the class and for individuals. I end the tour by encouraging the students to return to the exhibit with a friend or parent(s) and to visit the online exhibit.