Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Teaching Genocide and World War II Through the Lens of East Asia

Photo Caption: John Rabe and the Nanjing Safety Zone Committee (Yale Divinity School Library, Ernest H. Forster Papers)
An original version of this post was published on April 19 on Facing Today, a blog by Facing History and Ourselves. And here is a link to the blog on  the Facing History website.

Written by Addie Male, history teacher, Upper House Humanities Department Chairperson, and dance ensemble advisor at Millennium Brooklyn High School in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

I have long wanted to develop and teach a unit on the Nanjing Atrocities for my students at Millennium Brooklyn High School. As a high school history teacher with an undergraduate degree in East Asian Studies, I see it as an important history that we seldom teach in the United States.

It was wonderfully serendipitous last spring when, shortly after my proposal was approved for a new, senior elective entitled, “Turning Points in Global History,” Facing History and Ourselves offered a one-day workshop on this very subject at the China Institute. Attending this workshop very much informed the planning and teaching of this unit, within the umbrella of a course largely focused on case studies of genocide and atrocities and subsequent efforts of truth and reconciliation.

Because Nanjing is often untold within the context of WWII, this was the perfect case study to explore with my students, buttressed between Armenia and Rwanda. I was eager to attend this workshop, which reacquainted me with the historiography of China’s relationship with Japan and provided me with a foundation for teaching this unit. Using Facing History’s resource guide, The Nanjing Atrocities: Crimes of War, we were able to more deeply explore the different aspects of this history while being introduced to images, short clips, and engaging teaching activities that I could take back to my students. I found that the powerful and compelling primary voices in the resource, created space for my students to delve into an unfamiliar event in history in an accessible and meaningful way. They were then able to develop a deeper understanding of the many facets of this overlooked but essential study in attempting to answer our core questions surrounding genocide and atrocities.

But this workshop also prepared me to tackle the difficult aspects of teaching genocide in the classroom. I profoundly appreciated Facing History’s acknowledgment that this history is sensitive, particularly the victimization of women during wartime atrocities. This enabled me to delve into women’s experiences with my students and expose them to the voices of these survivors. Rather than shy away from this arena, thereby further marginalizing these voices, the workshop empowered teacher participants to include rape as a weapon of warfare in the teaching of Nanjing.

Just as important as acknowledging the victims’ experiences is the focus on rescue and resistance. This was a core facet of the workshop and instrumental in the planning and execution of the teaching of this unit. Students come to understand that targeted groups in genocide and wartime atrocities are not passive victims but survivors who actively engage in resistance of their oppressors. One activity that aided in this understanding was the creation of resistance newsletters, fictitiously published from the Nanjing Safety Zone but based on readings and content work from the Facing History curriculum guide. Working in groups, students were responsible for including: a letter to international leaders from John Rabe, an op-ed piece based on the accounts of Tsen-Shui Fang, and an artistic rendering depicting the realities faced by Chinese in the Nanjing Safety Zone. Notions of choosing to participate, resisting, and seeking justice—name stays of Facing History’s work—are also essential components of my course work with my students.

Rescue and resistance, and the aftermath, were, frankly, aspects of this time period that I was not fully aware of but because of the workshop I felt confident infusing this work into our study of the Nanjing Atrocities. While this was difficult and challenging work to explore, it was necessary to understanding the importance of resistance movements and holding perpetrators accountable. Specifically, the clip on the Tokyo War Crimes and readings such as “Accepting Defeat” and “Rebuilding” were necessary and empowering for the students. By understanding how and why atrocities are committed, and met with active resistance, my students were better able to understand change is possible.

A cornerstone of my teaching is that by studying historical periods such as the Nanjing Atrocities students can make connections to domestic and international conflicts of today and recognize they can demand change and be the agents of change themselves. Teaching this unit exposed my students to a topic not typically included in WWII units of study, while urging them to explore essential questions of why such atrocities occur. Equipped with this knowledge, they can make positive choices that can lead to a more compassionate world.

Do you want to learn how to broaden your students' knowledge of World War II beyond Europe? Join us on April 24 for the online workshop, "Teaching World War II in East Asia."

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Green Revolution: Blessing or Curse?

Green Revolution: Blessing or Curse?

This short ten-minute clip clearly thinks it was a blessing arguing the lives saved through the genetic engineering of plants outweighs environmental concerns.

In addition to this clip, students might also read this short essay from from International Food Policy Institute.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Socratic Seminars: Patience & Practice

Here's a good primer on how to do a Socratic seminar.

In the Teaching Channel video below, a 9th grade english class tackles the elements of a poem.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Globalization: Resources


 Studying globalization?  Here are a couple of short video resources and a couple links to good websites.

 The clip below is only four minutes and covers political, economic, and cultural globalization in an organized and engaging way.

Emory University has an outstanding website. As you can see above, it's organized  by people, organizations, and issues.

Finally,  here is a keynote address by the New York Times writer and author, Thomas Friedman, whose book, "The World is Flat," is all about the implications of globalization.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Renaissance: Video Resources

Studying the Renaissance. Here are several short clips that explain some of the important elements of the period including Machiavelli and his book, The Prince, Da Vinci and his design of a flying machine, the Mona Lisa, and Sir Thomas More.



Saturday, April 1, 2017

Using Storify to Deepen Content Knowledge

I love Storify as a vehicle for students to show mastery of content.

The program allows you you to use social media to import tweets, website links, videos, and other resources into slides. If you were do a story about the the development of NATO, you could import a map showing the member countries, provide a link to a video clip about its development, and write a short summary.

My students just completed a Storify assignment on the events of the Cold War. I got some terrific results which suggest that the project really deepened learning and in some instances, judging by the images, I think the kids had fun.

Here's the assignment and directions that I created along with links to several completed stories.
And here's a short explanation of how to use Storify. 

Suez Canal: Video Review

Studying decolonization?

Here's a nice clip that reviews the history of the Suez Canal.  It reviews the French company that built it to Britain's purchase of that company's concession in 1875 to its nationalization in 1956 by Egyptian leader Gamal Abdul Nasser.

The clip comes from France 24.

Tiananmen Square Protests

Here are three short clips which examine the Tiananmen Square protest in 1989

The first clip comes from TestTube, the second from CNN and the third, which is a link, comes from ABC News.

CNN Report on the Tiananmen Square Protests (start- 2:45)

ABC News Report (2:19- end)

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Cold War: Video Resources

Studying the Cold War?

Here are some great clips about some of the important events like the Berlin Wall, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the Space Race. 

The first clip is about the Berlin Wall and comes from Simple History. The second clip comes from TedEd and reviews the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The third clip reviews he space race and also comes from Simple History. Here's a great four minute review of the Berlin Wall from Simple History. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Decolonization in Ghana & Kenya: Two short Documentaries

Studying decolonization?  Here are two terrific short (25 to 30 minutes) documentaries about two independence movements in Africa--in Ghana and Kenya.

Both are from CCTV News, a 24-hour English news channel, of China Central Television, based in Beijing.

You can find questions for both videos in the New Visions Global Curriculum for 10th grade. Look for the unit on decolonization and nationalism. You'll find links to both videos with questions and other short activities.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Black Plague: Newscast from the Past

Studying the Black Plague?  Here's a Newscast from the Past from September 19, 1356. It includes the news as well as a couple of commercials.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Importance of Active Learning

What is the best way for kids to study?
  • highlight the material
  • underline key concepts
  • explain key concepts of the text to yourself
What is the best way for students to review for a test?
  • underline or circle key ideas in the text
  • review important elements of the lecture in an audio format
  • take an informal quiz on the material
In both instances, the answer is the one that requires students to get actively involved in the material like explaining key concepts to yourself and taking a quiz. 

That's what a lot of research suggests. It's also the subject of an excellent essay by NPR's lead education blogger, Anya Kamenetz.  You can also take the quiz to see how well you understand active learning.

Most people, according to surveys, don't understand the importance of active learning. Over 90% think that simply rereading the material is "highly effective."

I bet that many of our students do not realize the importance of active involvement with their reading and test preparation.  Most simply highlight the material or underline key concepts.

But these students might increase their performance if they work with the material in an active way, like taking an informal quiz on the chapter, or making a crossword puzzle with the chapter's vocabulary.

Another finding, Kamenetz notes, is that spacing study over time is much more effective than cramming the night before a test.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Later Middle Ages: Resources

Here are some video resources if you are studying the later Middle Ages.

They include a short biography of William the Conqueror, one from "Cloud Biography" and one comical review from Horrible Histories.

You will also see a short biography of Joan of Arc, also from Cloud Biographies.

Finally,  and perhaps best of all, is a review of the English Bill of Rights from teacher Tom Richey.

Here's a short two minute biography of William the Conqueror.
 And here's a more humorous review of William the Conqueror from Horrible Histories.
 And here is a short biography of Joan of Arc for when you review the Hundred Years War.
 Here's a terrific review of the English Bill of Rights from teacher, Tom Richey.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Rome Reborn: Narrated by Khan Academy

Many of you may have seen Bernard Fischer's 3-D model of Rome showing a simulation of the city's urban development. It's pretty cool as is!

Khan Academy took the  model and narrated the the tour of the buildings making the clip even more meaningful to students.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Russian Revolution: Lucy Worsely's Empire of the Tsars

Studying the Russian Revolution?  Part 3 of Lucy Worsley's "Empire of the Tsars" deals with the revolution and outlines the nature of Tsar Nicholas's reign.

Start the clip at about 25 minutes into Part 3 and you'll  come in close to the coronation of the Tsar. Worsley will review his reign through World War I.

Worsley does a good job of showing the country's worsening conditions under the Tsar from Bloody Sunday, to Rasputin, and  to the mishandling of the war.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

The Crusades: Video Resources

Studying the crusades?

Here are several clips about the two most important, the first and third crusades.

The first two clips are about the first crusade known as the Peoples Crusade. The first clip comes from Extra Credits.

The second clip comes Mankind, the Story of us all, and runs about two minutes.

The third clip covers the third crusade with Saladin and Richard the Lionhearted and comes from Atlantic Productions.

Friday, March 3, 2017

World War I and Art: PBS NewsHour

America joined World War I 100 years ago in April.

Here's an interesting clip from the PBS NewsHour which explores a new art exhibit in Philadelphia about how artists dealt with the conflict. It explores the development of propaganda and iconic images like Uncle Sam.

Although the focus is American, it might be interesting for world history students because of its focus on propaganda and art, a medium that all sides used.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Feudalism: Video Resources

Here are some short clips covering different aspects of European feudalism including religion, education, and Charlemagne.

The first two clips, both five minutes or less, outline the major features of feudalism. The third outlines Charlemagne's life with music and film. The fourth clip reviews the role of religion in feudal Europe and the last clip reviews the the development of the medieval university.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Black Death: Resources

Studying the Black Death?

Here are a couple of clips that might help. The first is a summary of what people believed to be the causes and the second is a newscast from the past, September 19, 1356.

Finally, you will see a graph comparing the deaths from the Black death with those in World War I & II.

Monday, February 27, 2017

African Kingdoms: Video Resources

Studying the African kingdoms of Ghana, Mali and Sonhay?

Here are a few video resources.

Here's a terrific two minute clip on the rise of Ghana.

And here is a TedEd talk by Jessica Smith about Mansa Musa and his enormous wealth.

Here is the Legend of Timbuktu (about 12 minutes) from MNM Television Network.

Finally, here is a 7 minute clip on the he Swahili Cities of East Africa.

Friday, February 24, 2017

How Dark were the Dark Ages

The Dark Ages were not so dark, according to this fascinating clip from PragerU.

They were full of color with carnivals, and revived popular drama and they invented the university.

And don't forget architecture! Gothic cathedrals brought color and light.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Coming War on China: New Documentary

Here is a stunning documentary about the increasing tension between the United States and China, especially in the South China Sea, developed by journalist, John Pilger.  Called the Coming War on China, it was  trashed by conservatives because the film is so critical of the United States.

Here's what I learned in the first ten minutes. As the Chinese expand onto islands in the South Sea China, they see American destroyers and bases surrounding them.

And in 1946, Americans exploded a hydrogen bomb over the Bikini Atoll near the Marshal Islands to see how animals and people react to the blast. 
Here is the trailer for documentary.

World War I: Resources

World War I. Three good video overviews.

Specific events


  • Over the Top,  a terrific web module that tells the story of Canadians who fought in the trench in the war. You have to make decisions throughout the simulation.

Blackadder Comedy Clips

Monday, February 13, 2017

World History Curriculum Modules on the Mediterranean

Here's a great curriculum project called "Our Shared Past in the Mediterranean." It contains lesson modules on the Mediterranean in different time periods. 

I just downloaded a lesson from Module 5 about Mehmet Ali and reforms in Egypt in the 19th century. It includes a number of documents about Ali including a brief biography along with short sections on economic and political reforms. The module includes a graphic organizer and a flow chart.

The Memet Ali lesson is part of module five which covers reform and social change in the Mediterranean between 1798-1914. 

Another lesson in that module compares the Declaration of Gulhane and the Declaration of the Rights of Man. (The Gulhane Proclamation created the Tanzimat Reforms in the Ottoman Empire)

Module six includes a lesson on the Marshall Plan and Italy. Another 20th century lesson examines the impact of the quest for energy on the environment.

Our Shared Past is a "collaborative grants program." Curriculum developers include Craig Perrier, High School Social Studies Specialist for Fairfax County Public Schools, and Susan Douglas from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Marx's Theory of Communism Reviewed by the School of Life

Here the School of Life reviews Karl Marx's theory of communism.

While Marx's ideas have been used by dictators like Stalin and Mao, the host notes that Marx's diagnosis of capitalism "helps us navigate towards a more promising future."

Thursday, February 9, 2017

East Asian Philosophies and Religions: Summer Workshop

The East Asian Resource Center offers a four-day summer development program at the University of Washington at Settle in July.

The topic fits themes in both the World History AP World History. 

The course will focus on the the three Chinese teachings--Daoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism. It will also focus on the development of Shintoism in Japan.

The University will provide dormitory housing, meal allowance and a partial travel stipend of up to $300 for a limited number of out-of-town participants.

  • July 24 – 28, 2017 
  • 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. 
  • (Monday-Thursday) 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m (Friday) 
  • The University of Washington in Seattle
  • Priority application deadline: 11:59 pm PST on March 31, 2017

Monday, February 6, 2017

Visualizing Cultures--Image Driven Lessons from MIT

MIT has a terrific website called Visualizing Cultures with an image driven curricula about Asia. Their units on Japan and China are great.

For example, we are studying the Meiji Restoration in AP World. MIT has a unit called "Throwing off Asia."  It includes a section called Technology and Industry with a series of woodblock prints that shows different aspects of industrialization.  I copied some for students to review and note the different ways in which the woodblocks reflect industrialization and modernization.

Another unit called Black Ships and Samurai shows the different ways the Japanese saw the invading Westerners when Commodore Perry sailed into Tokyo Bay. It includes a chart for analyzing the images.
Some of the other units in the curricula include the first Opium War and the Rise and Fall of the Canton Trade System.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Shinto: Resources

Teaching Shinto, the ancient religion of Japan? 

Here are some very short clips that help explain it.
The first is a basic overview from Khan academy and runs about four minutes.

The second clip explains the three types of kami, or gods. These include ancestors, spirits, and souls of great people, all of whom coexist with us in the natural world.

The third clip explains the importance of the torii gate and the Shinto shrine. And finally, a professor explains the great myth of the Japanese sun god, Amaterasu who is the daughter of Izanami and Izanagi who made their daughter ruler of the sky.

Shinto overview form Khan Academy

The gods of Shinto

 A Japanese Shrine Explained

The goddess Amaterasu

Cecil Rhodes Discovers Diamonds: Clip from Queen Victoria's Empire

Teaching Imperialism? Here, Cecil Rhodes discovers a diamond mine in South Africa that will eventually become De Beers, the world's largest diamond company.

The five minute clip comes from the PBS series, Queen Victoria's Empire.

Opium Wars from CNN Millenium

Teaching imperialism? Here's the excellent eight minute clip from CNN's Millennium Series about the Opium Wars.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Queen Njinga Mbande - African Women You Need to Know

Studying the slave trade in World History?

Here's an excellent short clip about the Angolan Queen Njinga Mbande. She led the Mbundu people in present day Angola in the 17th century. She negotiated with the Portuguese and fought against them to protect her country's independence, which is why she is known as the "warrior queen."

And when the she first negotiated with the Portuguese, she refused to sit on the floor while her counterpart sat in an armchair. Her maid couched all fours so the queen could sit on her back and face her Portuguese counterpart on equal footing!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Why do Sikhs Wear Turbans?

Sutori Digital Timelines

If you have never tried Sutori, you should. It's a great app and very easy for students to learn and master.

Students can create their own time timelines in history as well other subjects.

Check out this one on German and Italian unification by one of my students. Here's another.

And here's how Sutori works.
  1.  Create a free teacher account with your name and a password. 
  2.  Next, create a class and give it a name. Sutori generates a code for your class. 
  3.  Provide your students with the weblink to your class and code. 
  4.  Students then log in with a user name and password. 
There are plenty of possibilities for Sutori in other disciplines as well. In English, students might summarize a story or the development of a main character and in math, students might show the order of a math equation.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Teaching Context in AP World

Teaching context?

I have been working with students on context in AP World and trying to help them understand how to do it in their DBQs.

I was able to drive the point home when I showed them the first 15 minutes of PBS, Egalite for All about Toussaint L'Overture and the Haitian Revolution.

As the documentary opens, the narrators tell us a little about Haiti and then move to the French Revolution. I stopped the video and asked students why the narrator had moved to France. After all, this was a video about Haiti. I told them that the narrator was providing context.

And as the video progressed, I stopped it again to remind students that the development of context was not just a sentence. After all, the narrator of this documentary was spending five minutes discussing it.

Finally,  as the narrator moved back to Haiti, I stopped the video again and had students listen to the connecting sentence where the narrator connected the context to the Haitian Revolution.

It’s kind of cool when we can review these challenging concepts in different ways.