Posts Tagged ‘European History’

Learning Stations: Crisis in the Weimar Republic

May 14, 2010

Last year my co-teacher and I were a little crunched for time when teaching the interwar years in Europe.  We wanted to get across the economic and social problems that Europeans faced and how it influenced the choices they made, so I designed these learning stations to allow students to use primary and secondary sources to discover these facts for themselves.

We set up the classroom with the documents (printed from the PowerPoint, attached below) for each station taped to the walls around the room in clusters.  Students worked with a partner to complete the questions on their worksheet (included below).   The questions included reading graphs, analyzing political cartoons, and using photographs and quotes to find facts and make judgments about what was happening to the German people in the 1930s.  The PowerPoint and worksheet can be downloaded here:

The PowerPoints: learning stations_weimar republic

Worksheet: weimar_worksheet

At the end of the activity, we read excerpts from two speeches from major politicians in Weimar Germany* (the last two slides on the PowerPoint, above).  They were read without the candidate’s name.  The class then voted on which candidate they thought would best solve Germany’s problems.  The majority of students chose candidate #1, who they were then told was Adolf Hitler.  (The other candidate was Heinrich Bruenning.)  Students were generally shocked, and we had good discussions about what lead to our choices and how it must have happened in 1930s Germany.

Most of all I wanted students to think about how terrible things, such as the election of a dictator, happen.  I believe that people usually do what they think is right, as German voters did in the 1930s (and many other people at many other times in history).  Thinking that those people were unusually stupid, naive or sinister is dangerous, because it obscures the fact that it could happen here or anywhere else if people do not do their homework, read between the lines, and think for themselves.

*Note: I selected the speeches and translated them from Germany personally because I am sometimes a little wary of translations of Hitler that can be found online.


Memorials – What do they mean?

March 3, 2010

I have not taught this lesson yet, but I think it could be an appropriate warm-up activity for the Vietnam War, the Abolition Movement, or really any unit about a war, social movement, or several prominent individuals (the presidents, space travel, etc).  I want to get students thinking about how/why we remember people and how our actions in the modern world can affect how people are remembered.

Pairs of students can choose one of a small group of photographs of two or three famous memorials.  (You might also give each pair one in particular, if you are not worried about anyone getting stuck or frustrated by lack of choice.)  Students will then answer the following questions:

1) What do I see in this picture?

2) What person/event might this be commemorating?  What information do I get from this picture about that person/event?

3) What emotions would a person feel if they went to this place?

4) What is important about this person/event?

Here are some photos I have taken of famous memorials.  Older students or students with more knowledge of history might be given the more obscure ones.  Younger students or students with less knowledge of US/world history might be given the more obvious or narrative photos.  You also might decide whether you want to label the photos to give students a clue, or leave them without explanation and allow them to make guesses themselves.

(Holocaust Memorial, Berlin)


The Age of Revolutions

November 28, 2009

Who doesn’t love posters?

In a unit on nationalism and the Age of Revolutions (1848 in France, Germany, France, Hungary, etc. along with the Latin American revolutions) to do an in-class assessment, students were asked to create a poster advertising one of the revolutions in question.

Positives: It’s a fun opportunity for students to work together (or alone) and use colored pencils or markers to do something fun.  They can be displayed in the room, which is always fun, and it’s a good way for students to become experts on one aspect of the unit.

Negatives:  It can take a whole class period to work on it, and another class period if you want the pairs to present.