Monday, May 7, 2012

Meeting Common Core Standards with Echoes and Reflections

With much gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair, education is once again trying a new initiative – Common Core State Standards (CCSS).  CCSS hopes to make clear what our students are expected to learn as well as “The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.” (

It’s not the mission of CCSS that is making teachers moan, rather it’s the idea that we’ve all been down this road before and this is just the next, newest, brilliant idea.  As a library media specialist and Holocaust educator, I see the CCSS differently.  CCSS reading standards talk about creating a “staircase” of complexity in what students are able to read K-12 so they are ready for college and career reading.  CCSS presents an amazing opportunity to use primary sources from the Holocaust to provide students with the complex text to become better readers whether it’s diary entries, letters, poetry, or documents.  

In the Echoes and Reflections: A Multimedia Curriculum on the Holocaust and its companion IWitness, you can find a multitude of primary resources and ideas.  Search for topics from over 9,000 search terms.  Even better, there are 1,000 survivor testimonies and thought-provoking lessons to go along with all of these resources.  CCSS for reading gives teachers permission to use complex text to make students better readers.  “Echoes and Reflections” and “IWitness” provide that complex text as well as multiple perspectives through ample primary sources.  Both make the Holocaust more relevant to our students and ultimately to their success.  
The Midwest Center for Holocaust Education has been designated as an Echoes and Reflections training center. Echoes and Reflections is a testimony-based curriculum for educators of grades 7-12. Arranged into ten chapters covering the scope and sequence of the Holocaust, the curriculum is scalable and relies heavily on exploration and analysis of primary sources. A local training will be held on July 25, 2012 with an educator from Yad Vashem.

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