Students of Facing History

Posted by Ben Gross on July 13, 2015

As an educator I often wonder what students remember once they have left my classroom. It is my hope that when they leave they take with them critical thinking skills, the ability to engage in difficult conversations, and a deeper understanding of how we are all connected - in the past, present, and future. Through all of my various attempts to learn from my students what they are getting out of their Facing History and Ourselves class, I have found that the best way to find out what students are learning is to ask them.

Each year, at the end of our grade 11 elective Facing History and Ourselves course, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity, we take the time to reflect on our learning and ourselves. This year a group of students from my classroom chose to participate in a reflective interview process in lieu of their final journal entry assignment, and agreed to share their reflections.

Below, as inspired by the popular blog Humans of New York and the Facing History project, Humans of the Woodlands, you'll have the chance to glimpse into the classroom learning and life of a few of my Facing History and Ourselves students.

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Topics: Choosing to Participate, Identity, History, Holocaust Education, Memorial, We and They, Culturally Responsive and Relevant Pedagogy, legacy, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanities Course, Holocaust and Human Behaviour, Inside a Genocide Classroom, Social Justice, Personal history, reflection

Reflections on my First Year as a Facing History Teacher Part 1: “Healthy Tensions”

Posted by Jonathan Temporal on June 30, 2015

Early in my teaching career I came across Voltaire's aphorism, which states, “perfect is the enemy of good.”[1] As my fifth year as a middle school teacher, and my first year as a Facing History teacher comes to a close, I developed a new appreciation for this message.

Ten months ago, shortly after participating in the Facing History and Ourselves: Holocaust and Human Behaviour seminar, I wrote a blog post detailing my plans for my first year as a Facing History and Ourselves teacher. I strongly believe in the power that the Facing History and Ourselves curriculum offers students, and I wanted to make sure I lived up to what it meant to be a Facing History teacher. During the year, I found myself chasing the “perfect” lessons, which I hoped would chain together to create the “perfect” unit, and the “perfect” year. Here is what I have learned since then.

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Topics: Identity, Holocaust Education, Middle School, Strategies, Lesson Ideas

Nine Books That Everyone Must Read

Posted by Jamie on December 19, 2014

We've compiled a list of the nine books that we feel every teacher (and student) must read. Each of these books tackles an important event/issue in history. Each of these books is engaging, well-written, and powerful.

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Topics: Professional Development, Holocaust, Holocaust Education, English Classroom, Literature, Personal history

Facing History and Ourselves Canada Honours Holocaust Survivor and Educator Nate Leipciger

Posted by Jasmine Wong on November 1, 2014

On October 26, Facing History and Ourselves Canada awarded Holocaust survivor, educator, and long-time board member Nate Leipciger with the inaugural Upstander Award in front of a room of 400 friends, family, and supporters.

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Topics: Professional Development, Events, Facing History Resources, Facing History Together, Holocaust, Canada, Holocaust Education

5 Resources for Meaningful Student Engagement

Posted by Cheryl Payne-Stevens on August 28, 2014

When teachers flip the calendar to August, the countdown is on. Inevitably, we begin planning for the next school year. One of the beautiful things about being a teacher is the opportunity for new beginnings.

I am always reflecting on how I can improve a lesson, unit or activity and the Facing History website is a go-to resource for me. Here are my five recommended resources from the Facing History website to inspire your classroom practice this year:

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Topics: Antisemitism, Choosing to Participate, Facing History Resources, History, Holocaust Education, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanities Course

A Visit to Treblinka Extermination Camp

Posted by Julia R on May 14, 2014

This week, our office director Leora, along with several other Facing History staff and board members, are traveling in Poland as part of a learning trip. Over the course of nine days, they are exploring questions about history, memory, and legacy that are at the core of our work. With the help of Polish and Jewish scholars, witnesses to history, community activists, politicians and journalists, as well as organizations that have worked with Facing History throughout the past 25 years, they will be challenged to think in new ways as we confront the past and struggle with questions about the present and future. On Monday, Leora and the group visited the Treblinka extermination camp. Read her thoughts here:

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Topics: Antisemitism, Facing History Resources, Holocaust, History, Museum Studies, Holocaust Education, Memorial, Personal history

iWitness Webinar and Class Contest!

Posted by Jasmine Wong on May 2, 2013

IWitness Archive Gives Voice to Holocaust Witnesses: Free Webinars and Student Contest

Facing History Offers IWitness Webinars for Teachers May 9 and May 14 2013
In May 2013, Facing History will offer two free webinars for educators on powerful ways to use the IWitness tool.

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Topics: Events, History, Innovative Classrooms, Media Skills, Holocaust Education, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanities Course

Where was God during the Shoah? Jewish students seek answers in Art and Tradition

Posted by Jack Lipinsky on April 21, 2013

One of my most powerful childhood memories is seeing "The Ten Commandments" in the original "Cinemascope" at the now demolished Glendale Cinema on Avenue Road. I never forgot the grandeur of the huge screen especially in scene where Moses (Charlton Heston) epically raised his arms with the Rod of God aloft, and the sea crashed down upon the pursuing Egyptians while Pharaoh (Yul Brynner) gasped in awe and said: "The Lord is God." So much for nostalgia. I wonder what Moses would have said watching a synagogues of Germany burn down on Kristallnacht when firefighters stood idle and crowds gathered to gawk? He might well have asked, as do my students, "where was God"?

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Topics: History, Holocaust Education, Lesson Ideas

Ten Commandments of Teaching Genocide

Posted by Ben Gross on April 17, 2013

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Topics: History, Holocaust Education, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanities Course

Collaborative Inquiry using NIGHT: An Interview with Professor Rob Simon

Posted by Jasmine Wong on April 8, 2013


In this interview, we asked Rob Simon, Assistant Professor of Multiliteracies in Education at OISE/University of Toronto (Dept of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning), to tell us more about the Teaching to Learn Project so we could better understand how and why collaborative (teacher-adolescent) curriculum planning worked, why he chose Elie Wiesel's Night as the study text, and where he got the idea to ask project participants to paint on the pages of the text as a form of reading response.

The images below are the culmination of those responses, which were mounted in an exhibition titled After Night.

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Topics: Facing History Resources, Innovative Classrooms, Holocaust Education, Lesson Ideas, English Classroom

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This is where Canadian Facing History and Ourselves teachers and community members meet to share reflections, scholarship and teaching practices that will inspire, challenge and improve teaching and student learning. Our stories provide a window into diverse Facing History classrooms in Ontario, and invite you into the discussion.

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