The Holocaust: Voices of Victims and Survivors | EL Education Curriculum

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In Unit 2, students analyze a model literary analysis, an expository essay that compares and contrasts the structures and themes of a poem and a novel to prepare students to write their own literary analysis. Students then closely read a new poem, "Often a Minute" by Magdalena Klein, in order to write their own essay comparing the structure and theme of this poem to their anchor text, Maus I. Students spend two days planning their essay and two days drafting and revising their essay based on peer feedback. For their mid-unit assessment, students answer selected and constructed response questions to compare and contrast a new poem's structure and theme with that of Maus I.

In the second half of Unit 2, students read excerpts from memoirs written by victims and survivors of the Holocaust to analyze development of theme and write summaries. They will also participate in mini lessons and practice verb conjugation, voice, and mood. This work prepares students for the end of unit assessment. At the end of Unit 2, students answer selected and constructed response questions about verb conjugation, voice, and mood.

Please note: For the 6-8 Language Arts Curriculum, there are Teaching Notes for each unit that contain helpful information for supporting English language learners. These overview notes complement the more specific English language learner supports and differentiated materials within each lesson. You will find the Teaching Notes in the Unit download below.

CCS Standards

The Four Ts

  • Topic: The Holocaust: Voices of Victims and Survivors
  • Task:
    • Write an essay comparing and contrasting the structure and theme of "Often a Minute" and Maus I.
    • Answer selected and constructed response questions to compare and contrast the structure and theme of "The Action in the Ghetto of Rohatyn, March 1942" and Maus I.
    • Answer selected and constructed response questions about verb conjugation, voice, and mood.
  • Targets: RL.8.1, RL.8.2, RL.8.4, RL.8.5, RL.8.10, L.8.1a, L.8.1c, L.8.1d, L.8.3, L.8.5a
  • Texts: Maus I by Art Spiegelman, "Often a Minute" by Magdalena Klein, Excerpts from Abe's Story by Abram Korn and Joseph Korn, Excerpts from Night by Elie Wiesel, Excerpts from The Other Victims by Ina R. Friedman


Each unit in the 6-8 Language Arts Curriculum has two standards-based assessments built in, one mid-unit assessment and one end of unit assessment. The module concludes with a performance task at the end of Unit 3 to synthesize students' understanding of what they accomplished through supported, standards-based writing.

Habits of Character/Social-Emotional Learning Focus

Central to the EL Education curriculum is a focus on "habits of character" and social-emotional learning. Students work to become effective learners, developing mindsets and skills for success in college, career, and life (e.g., initiative, responsibility, perseverance, collaboration); work to become ethical people, treating others well and standing up for what is right (e.g., empathy, integrity, respect, compassion); and work to contribute to a better world, putting their learning to use to improve communities (e.g., citizenship, service).

In this unit, students continue to focus on the working to become ethical people habits of character as they build empathy and compassion for the individuals and groups who experience terrible oppression during the Holocaust. These are incredibly emotional texts that may evoke strong responses, and students will need to practice respect for the emotions of both others and themselves. Students build empathy and compassion as they show respect and care for students who may feel connected to or impacted by issues presented within the text. Students practice respect and empathy when they discuss this complex topic with their peers. Students also practice working to become effective learners as they analyze and write a new type of literary analysis, which may be more challenging than essays they have encountered previously.


Each unit is made up of a sequence of between 10-18 lessons. The Unit-at-a-Glance charts, available on the grade-level landing pages, break down each unit's lessons, showing CCS standards, agenda breakdown, daily learning targets, and ongoing assessments. The charts also indicate which lessons include mid- and end of unit assessments and the performance task.

Texts and Resources to Buy

Texts and resources that need to be procured. Please download the Required Trade Books and Resources Procurement List for procurement guidance.

Text or Resource Quantity ISBNs
Maus I
by Art Spiegelman
one per student
ISBN: 9780394747231

Preparation and Materials

Ensure that families are aware of the sensitive content of the texts read in this unit, and prepare students who may be affected by this content in advance.

The following materials are introduced in this unit and referenced throughout both the module and the school year:

  • Characteristics of a Literary Analysis Essay anchor chart
  • Structure anchor chart
  • Informative Essay Writing checklist
  • Gerund and Infinitive anchor chart
  • Compare and Contrast Structure and Meaning anchor chart
  • Informative Writing Plan graphic organizer
  • Directions for Peer Critique
  • Collaborative Discussion Sentence Starters anchor chart

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