K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • demonstrate comprehension of the identification process of colors and symbols used in the Nazi concentration camps to label people as undesirables to the Third Reich.
  • demonstrate analysis of how these “undesirables” were stripped of their individual rights and humanity.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

1 week


  • Construction paper for yellow stars
  • Construction paper for booklet cover. One sheet of paper will be folded to make cover and back.
  • Computer paper for identification, explanations, letter, and bibliography. Paper will be folded to go inside construction paper. Booklet will be typed on the side.
  • Different color markers to display colors and symbols inside booklet.

Technology resources

computer lab with internet access


  • Teacher will provide brief background information about how World War I set the stage for World War II.
  • Teacher will ask questions of students to determine how much they know about the Jewish religion. Examples: What classifies a person as a Jew? Do you know anything about the history of the Jewish people?
  • Students will make a yellow star to wear at the beginning of the class period. The word “Jude,” the German word for Jew, will be at the top of the star. Under the word “Jude” the following quote will be written: “He who wears this symbol is an enemy of our people.” (quote by Hitler)
  • Write on the board a list of stereotypical and derogatory words and expressions describing groups of people by race, sex, religion, and ethnicity.
  • Distribute critical term vocabulary to prepare students for the reading of Night by Elie Wiesel.


  1. Students will become aware of the stigma of a yellow star by wearing the star and by listening to specific derogatory comments directed to Jews. (The teacher will give a few comments that were directed toward Jews by the Nazis such as “dirty kikes.”
  2. Students will go to the computer lab to do research to identify the different colors and symbols for the categories of undesirable people identified by the Nazis.
  3. Students will also do research to find the reasoning behind why these people were considered inferior to the Ayran race.
  4. Students will continue to research to discover how one particular individual from the undesirables list besides the Jews suffered during his time in a concentration camp (Night is a personal account of a fourteen-old-year Jewish boy.)
  5. Write a letter entitled: “This is My Letter to the World” (Emily Dickinson) explaining to an adolescent of today what this person suffered. Letter should be three to four paragraphs and should be written in the writer’s own words.
  6. Students will compile their researched information and letter into a booklet form. The booklet will include the following:
    • Colors and symbols for identification for “undesirables.”
    • Reasons for categorizing each group “undesirable.”
    • Personal account letter
    • Bibliography of web sites using correct format


  • Test on vocabulary before reading Night.
  • Completed research in computer lab with printouts and web sites.
  • Letter written for booklet.
  • Completed booklet which counts as two grades - One grade will be for research/bibliography, and one grade will be for content and visual presentation.

Supplemental information


  • List of ten vocabulary words with definitions one week prior to lesson.
  • Sample letter with labeled parts of a standard letter for LEP student to use as reference.
  • Written and simplified step-by-step directions for completing research and booklet.
  • Provide two web sites for LEP students. (See web sites at the bottom.)
  • Pairing LEP student with more technically advanced student in computer lab.

Alternative assessments

  • Different test for the ten required words using matching and visuals.
  • Write a one to two paragraph letter.
  • Simplified explanations for the information required in the booklet such as simple sentences and simple verb tenses.

Critical vocabulary

Streamline Vocabulary for LEP (Limited English Proficient)student. Ten words as opposed to twenty words:, concentration camp, Nazi, Yellow star, genocide, undesirables, stigma, stigmatize, Auschwitz, crematoria, Holocaust, Aryan race


My inspiration for this lesson plan was a poster on the door of a professor at Greensboro College. I saw the poster while attending an ESL Language Institute during the summer of 2004.

This lesson plan was developed during the English Language Development Standard Course of Study lesson planning institutes hosted by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and LEARN NC, June and July, 2004. It includes specific strategies, instructional modifications, and alternative assessments which make this lesson accessible to limited English proficient students. Please note that this lesson has been aligned with the goals and objectives of the N.C. English Language Development standards.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • English Language Arts (2010)
      • Reading: Literature

        • Grade 9-10
          • 9-10.RL.6 Analyze a particular point of view or cultural experience reflected in a work of literature from outside the United States, drawing on a wide reading of world literature.
          • 9-10.RL.9 Analyze how an author draws on and transforms source material in a specific work (e.g., how Shakespeare treats a theme or topic from Ovid or the Bible or how a later author draws on a play by Shakespeare).

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Social Studies (2010)
      • United States History II

        • USH.H.1 Apply the four interconnected dimensions of historical thinking to the United States History Essential Standards in order to understand the creation and development of the United States over time. USH.H.1.1 Use Chronological thinking to: Identify the...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

English Language Arts (2004)

Grade 10

  • Goal 4: The learner will critically interpret and evaluate experiences, literature, language, and ideas.
    • Objective 4.01: Interpret a real-world event in a way that:
      • makes generalizations about the event supported by specific references.
      • reflects on observation and shows how the event affected the current viewpoint.
      • distinguishes fact from fiction and recognizes personal bias.
    • Objective 4.02: Analyze thematic connections among literary works by:
      • showing an understanding of cultural context.
      • using specific references from texts to show how a theme is universal.
      • examining how elements such as irony and symbolism impact theme.
    • Objective 4.04: Evaluate the information, explanations, or ideas of others by:
      • identifying clear, reasonable criteria for evaluation.
      • applying those criteria using reasoning and substantiation.

English Language Development (2005)

Grade 9–12

  • Goal 0:
    • Objective 0.02: Develop vocabulary based on non-academic and academic topics.
    • Objective 0.04: Write paragraphs on familiar topics and on previously learned academic content using the elements of a paragraph.
    • Objective 0.05: Use oral communication to identify and organize academic information.
    • Objective 0.06: Demonstrate an increased knowledge of academic content vocabulary in simplified text.
    • Objective 0.13: Read and understand narrative and descriptive text.
    • Objective 0.16: Use reference materials (e.g., dictionaries)