Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Using Technology to Explore Anne Frank Website

As a middle school teacher, I find myself very reluctant to let me kids loose on the internet to research the Holocaust.  There are just too many unreliable sources, or sources that are too graphic for this age of students.  However, I don’t like to limit them either; I like for them to self-generate questions and look for the answers on the internet.  This year, our school district is getting all of our students Google accounts.  I can share documents with my students and they can add their own information to make a working document for a whole class.  

This year, I created a document that gave my students the link to the Anne Frank website where they could go on a virtual tour of the annex, learn more about what happened to the actual people in hiding, learn more about their background, and/or explore the annex and hear the way Anne described it in her diary.  In the document, I provided a place for each student to add one comment about what they were learning and one question that they had as they were learning.  

Once the kids were all logged in and had the document open, I had them use headphones (there is some excellent audio on the website) and start exploring.  As they were typing their questions and comments, I was able to comment on their comments and answer their questions.  This group didn’t get to the point where they were commenting on each other yet; I think that will come with practice.  But they were all able to comment without having to raise their hand, wait their turn, or speak in front of the class.  While I don’t want this to ever replace conversation and learning those skills, I do think you can do quite a lot when you allow students to give their comments in writing.

In the end, the kids were able to go to any part of the website they wanted, but they still had to stay within the confines of that one website.  And we also ended up with an actual document with comments and questions that we can add to and address as we work on this unit.

The actual assignment is below, with my students’ comments.  Keep in mind, many of these kids are ELL and/or very low readers.  I didn’t grade them on their quality of writing, just that they added to the document.

Anne Frank Website Activity
Today you are going to explore the Anne Frank website and record your observations and questions in this Google document.  You will also be able to see each other’s observations and questions in this document as they type them.  Feel free to comment on their observations and questions as well!

  1. Plug in your headphones.  There is a lot of narration on the website.  
  2.  Go to the website 
  3.  There are several areas for you to explore:
    • You can go on a virtual tour of the actual hiding space 
    • You can see more information about what happened to them after they were discovered.
    • You can see the inside of the hiding place and see how Anne described it all. 
    • You can learn more about the actual people in the story.
  4.  As you are exploring, you will need to add to this document, next to your name, at least one comment about something you find interesting, and at least one new question you have 
  5.  Feel free to read each other’s comments and questions and add comments to them as well.
  6. By the time we are done, we should have a full document, with at least one question and comment next to each person’s name!
Comments: They fit a lot of furniture in the small spaces.
It's amazing that they had that much furniture!  I think they moved things in before they actually moved in themselves.


Comments: They had a lot more space than I thought. Every room was pretty well sized except for Peter’s, but I would be fine with that size of a room.


Noah B.
Comments: the hiding place is like a whole other house.Compared to others who hid in holes in the ground or in sewers, their hiding place was pretty homey.


Comments: i imagine the place more smaller


Comments: It must suck having to use your room as a kitchen and dining room because it has a sink and oven.

Questions: Why wouldn’t Anne ask Margot questions about growing up and having changes?
In the movie, she does a little.  I think back then that it wasn't appropriate to talk about those things. We have come a long way!

Comments:the video of the annex was really good at showing everything.

Questions: how do the people of the website know the exact month and year and place that all of them all died at and how?

Comments: not as small as i thought it was. Pretty spacious, but lots of people!

Questions: Is that all the actual stuff that was in there?

Comments: It all looks so authentic. It’s great :)

Questions: is that their actual furniture? What kind of movie stars were popular then? Was that what her diary actually look like? No.  When the Nazis came and got them they took almost everything in there.  This was put in just for pictures so we can see what it was like.  But that's why it's empty when you go visit, since the actual furniture is gone.

Comments: Peter’s room was super small.

Questions: was the furniture actually arranged like that?
I don't know how exact it was.  Miep and Mr. Frank were still alive when they staged it, so they may have told people where to put things.

Camryn H.

Questions:Why does the book and the movie over exaggerate more than the accually things that happened?

Camryn K
Comments: i didn't know they had a daily time slot to be in the bathroom  

Questions: If they always had to be silent all day long how did anne run up and down the staircase to drown out the bombs and the gunfire? That was mostly at night.

Comments: why was peter room so small. if you look at peter room it is so small why would they put him get to see where the bank office is. you get to go outside in the 3-d .

In the play, they talk about hirs oom having rats, nd that they thought he could hanlde it.  I always thouhgt that Anne oshuld have had atht asmll room andaPeter could have sharedi wth Dussel.

Comments: The franks had a place in their room where they checked Anne and Margot hight over time. Miep stayed in touch with Mr. Frank.

Questions: Why did the guy in the warehouse tell the gestapo that the Jews were hiding.
He may have been paid for it, otm ay have gotten caughtf or a crime and gave them information so HE woulnd't go to jail.

Comments: I didn’t know there were times when Mr.Pfeffer did dental work in the hideout.
You will see it in the movie. :)

Questions: In the intro video they said Jews couldn’t own stores but Mr. Frank’s company was owned by Jews, wasn’t it?

GOOD QUESTION!  Once Hitler came to power hhad the company put in Miep's husband's name so it woulbn't technically be Jewish anymore.

Comments: i wonder what it would be like if i was the one hiding from hitler. it would probably be scary:(


Comments:The bathroom are smaller than i thought they would be. Anne and Margot grow really fast.

Questions:Why were they giving 30 minutes the bathroom. Why did hitler take the Jews to training camps?
Hitler didn't think Jews deserved to live. They were of no use to him at all, except using them for labor.

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