An Invitation for Educators

The Fortunoff Video Archive holds over 4,400 Holocaust testimonies in more than a dozen languages. We are working to make them available to high school and middle school students via our new curriculum development program.

Our Goals

  • Invite young people to encounter Shoah survivors and witnesses through testimonies
  • Engage young people in rigorous historical thinking
  • Support teachers in teaching with testimonies, textual primary sources, and historical scholarship
This project brings together teachers and historians. If you are a middle school or high school educator and would like to participate – please join us!
We are happy to share lessons and want to hear about your and your students’ needs as we navigate the return to in-person learning.

Curriculum

Our curriculum centers testimonies, historical thinking, and critical inquiry. It will be a free online resource.

We worked collaboratively with New Haven Public Schools to develop the first unit – Race and Second-Class Citizenship in Nazi Germany and Jim Crow United States. We will revise it further after teachers use it in their classrooms. If you would like to receive it, please use the contact information below.

The curriculum incorporates Fortunoff Archive’s interview methodology and scholarly approach to engaging with testimony. This is designed to help students develop the skills needed to work with this unique historical source. We situate each testimony in a deeper historical context, and emphasize the complexity of Holocaust testimonies as sources that give rise to difficult questions. Students learn to ask their own questions and engage with questions debated by historians.

We aim to create materials that are:

  • Informed by education research literature and historical scholarship
  • Responsive to teachers’ time constraints and students’ diverse reading levels
  • Capable of engaging students in rigorous historical analysis, targeting skills like contextualization and analysis of historical arguments
  • Open to adaptations based on feedback from teachers and scholars
  • Aligned with the Common Core and Holocaust education standards

Professional Learning for Teachers

In May 2021, we started offering collaborative workshops and institutes for middle school and high school teachers. Our first 3-day Virtual Summer Institute in August 2021 focused on the Race and Citizenship unit and received overwhelmingly positive evaluations. It combined practical pedagogy sessions, meetings with scholars, and teacher conversations. This model will inform our future professional learning offerings.


Our Plans

Classroom Implementations

Throughout the 2021/22 school year teachers will use our curriculum

– 30 teachers plan to use the lessons from our Race and Citizenship unit in a variety of schools: urban, suburban, public, and private.

We will learn from them and revise lessons before making them widely available. Teacher feedback will also inform future curriculum development.

A Growing Community of Practice

We will convene meetings and workshops for teachers and historians who want to learn from one another. We plan to provide pedagogy support to teachers who want to offer rigorous history instruction with testimonies, textual primary sources, and historical scholarship. And we will offer historians opportunities to make their scholarship accessible to high school and middle school students.

Curriculum Development

We will continue building the curriculum using a thematic approach and inquiry-based pedagogy. New units will explore themes like:

  • Jewish life in interwar Poland – dilemmas of a diverse minority in a fragile democracy facing political and economic crises
  • Rescuers through the eyes of survivors – how do survivors describe rescuers? Who were they? What motivated them?
  • Music and memory – how does music function in individual and collective traumatic memories? The unit will use Fortunoff Archive’s Songs from Testimonies.
  • Survivor testimony and slave labor – slavery in the United States, Nazi concentration camps, and modern-day human trafficking
  • 1968 East and West – post-Shoah expulsion of Polish Jews from Poland in the global context of struggle for civil and human rights

Contact Information

Fortunoff Archive’s Secondary Education Program is led by Dr. Agnieszka Aya Marczyk. For more information, please contact her at aya.marczyk@yale.edu.

Meet the Team

Agnieszka (Aya) Marczyk

Curriculum Development Fellow

Aya Marczyk has a PhD in European intellectual history from the University of Pennsylvania, an MS in cognitive psychology from Bucknell University, and a BA from Brown. Her research explores how teaching with historiography can create bridges between the work of professional historians and high school history classrooms. As a Fellow and Director of Education at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia, she has worked with historians, teachers, and school districts to develop and test curricular materials that engage students in analyzing historical arguments and evidence. She has also co-edited and translated several books that explore the intersection of culture and politics, including Against Anti-Semitism: An Anthology of Twentieth-Century Polish Writings (Oxford University Press, 2018) and a forthcoming volume Traumatic Modernities: From Comparative Literature to Medical Humanities. Aya will be working to bring the Fortunoff collection to classrooms in Connecticut through curricular materials and professional learning institutes for teachers. Our goal is to invite students to learn about survivors’ experiences, engage in historical reflection that situates the Shoah in its multiple twentieth-century contexts, and explore both the necessity and limits of historical comparisons.