Professional Development for Teachers
Holocaust Center for Humanity Professional Development Programs for Teachers
Suitable/Adaptable for teachers of grades 5-12
The Holocaust Center for Humanity offers a variety of interactive professional development opportunities for teachers of grades 5-12. Individual sessions range between one hour and two and a half hours and can be combined for half day or full day programs. All sessions can be facilitated in-person or virtually.
All professional development programs are offered free of charge to schools and groups in Washington State. Donations to support these programs so that we can continue to offer them for free are always appreciated. Make a donation to support professional development.
Best Practices for Teaching about the Holocaust (foundational)
Participants will learn about the Washington State-required “Best Practices” for teaching the lessons of the Holocaust, and how the Holocaust Center for Humanity and its many resources help prepare them, regardless of prior knowledge and teaching experience, to create positive, necessary student learning outcomes.
Participants will also learn the impact of quality Holocaust education on students’ social and emotional learning needs, including their attitudes towards diversity, tolerance, and upstander behavior in the face of hate and intolerance, as well as on their critical thinking skills. (1.5-2.5 hours) (Can be divided into two or more sessions, including one or more of the options below.)
The Pyramid of Hate Activity: Understanding the Dangers of Where Hatred Can Lead
This interactive lesson, imbued with primary source video clips and images, engages students to consider that bias-motivated violence and genocide are not inevitable, encouraging them to realize that their actions (and inactions) have consequences, and that they CAN make a difference. Students make connections between history and current events, using the lessons of the Holocaust to apply in their lives. (1-1.5 hours)
Teaching about the Holocaust through English Language Arts
Participants will dive deeper into specifics of successfully teaching the lessons of the Holocaust through ELA. ELA teachers will consider the guidelines for teaching about the Holocaust, teaching and learning objectives, rationale, differentiation, the use of graphic novels, the need for historical accuracy and recommendations by grade level, including text-specific context. We will spotlight and discuss key components or themes of two or three central texts, including but not limited to Night, Maus, Anne Frank, White Bird, and more! Finally, we will consider culminating work that connects back to our rationale, and the integration of speaker testimony and/or field trips. (1-1.5 hours)
Teaching about the Holocaust through History/Social Studies
Participants will learn how to skillfully and successfully go from one or more necessary contextual lessons into key “deep dive” lessons applicable to US and/or World History classes. Premised on the foundation of the guidelines for teaching about the Holocaust and genocide, such lessons and interactive activities may include The US Response to the Holocaust; Pre-War Jewish Life; The Challenges of Escape (answering the frequently asked question, “Why didn’t the Jews just leave?”); Nazism and Jim Crow; and Examining the Stages of Genocide/Other Genocides. (1-1.5 hours)
Growing Up Black in Nazi Germany
Students often ask about groups other than the Jews whom the Nazis targeted during the era of the Holocaust. This workshop centers around a new series of lessons spotlighting one such group: Black people in Germany, also known as “Afro-Germans.” This session invokes questions of racism, hatred, prejudice in both Germany and the United States, identity, the role of educators, and how to combat hatred. As such, it transcends the Holocaust alone, and is an invaluable resource both for educators and students looking for examples that further speak to them about their own lives, the choices they make, and consequences of actions and inactions. Teachers gain numerous tools for using one or more of these lessons with their students! (1-1.5 hours)
Teaching about the Holocaust Using Survivor Testimony
During this session, participants will learn about the impact of survivor/speaker testimony towards social and emotional learning, critical thinking, and upstander behavior. This session will feature a presentation from a member of our speakers bureau, with opportunities for questions and answers. This session demonstrates the importance of the human story, translating the typically unascertainable numbers associated with the Holocaust and other genocides into individual people, their families and stories. (1-1.5 hours)
Teaching about the Holocaust Using Field Trips
In this session, participants will engage in a virtual field trip of the Holocaust Center for Humanity, led by one of our docents. Following an introduction about the educational power and relevance of primary sources, including artifacts, participants will “tour” our museum space, spending time considering the stories of many of the survivors who ultimately settled in Washington state. (1 hour)
Teaching with Artifacts: Learning about the Holocaust through Inquiry
This workshop approaches the history of the Holocaust through one small shoe: a seemingly very ordinary thing. It provides guidance and practical classroom approaches to empower learners to read artifacts as evidence.
Through guided group discussion, we will uncover intimate details about the owner of this little shoe, using skills of deduction, inference, and the analysis of historical sources. Relating what we discover to what is known from other sources we will explore meaning in the historical narrative and consider how this can help young people learners to ask significant and important questions about this complex and emotionally challenging past.
The activity is designed to stimulate deep personal reflection and the questions raised will provide a stimulus for deeper exploration of the Holocaust in further classroom lessons. (1-1.5 hours)
State Requirements - FAQs
Legislation Strongly Encouraging Holocaust Education in Washington
RCW 28A.300.115 and 116 (Passed April 19, 2019)
After unanimously passing the Senate and the House, Holocaust Education Bill SB5612 was signed by Governor Jay Inslee Friday, April 19, 2019. This bipartisan bill, the result of a partnership between the Holocaust Center for Humanity and the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, is a significant step towards ensuring that every student in our state has access to quality Holocaust education. The bill has been codified as law in two statutes, RCW 28A.300.115 and 116.
“In addition to this study being a reaffirmation to never again permit such occurrences, studying this material is intended to examine the ramifications of prejudice, racism, and intolerance and prepare students to be responsible citizens in a pluralistic democracy." – RCW 28A.300.115
This Holocaust education law has created a partnership between the Holocaust Center for Humanity and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). Together, we:
- Developed best practices and guidelines for teaching about the Holocaust and genocide;
- Are conducting statewide professional development for educators, teaching them how to apply these new standards;
- After two years, at the end of the 2022 school year, our Center will report on the effectiveness of this legislation and make recommendations for the future of Washington State Holocaust education.
Is the Holocaust now mandatory to teach in Washington State?
No, not yet. RCW 28A.300.115 states, “Every public middle school, junior high school, and high school is strongly encouraged to include in its curriculum instruction on the events of the period in modern world history known as the Holocaust, the systematic, German state-sponsored persecution and murder of Jews and other innocent victims by the Nazi regime and its collaborators between the years 1933 – 1945.“
What does this law do?
“Beginning September 1, 2020, middle, junior high, and high schools offering this instruction must follow the best practices and guidelines that are developed.” This bill reiterates the importance and value of Holocaust education in all middle and high schools. It also creates a required set of guidelines and best practices for educators offering Holocaust education and provides professional development opportunities throughout the state for teaching the Holocaust. Look for upcoming workshops in your area and through your school district and at www.HolocaustCenterSeattle.org.
- September 2019-August 2020 – The Holocaust Center for Humanity and OSPI developed guidelines and best practices for teaching the Holocaust in Washington State. Workshops and professional development opportunities are offered throughout Washington to introduce these new guidelines and best practices, provide information on how to access resources, and support educators who are teaching about the Holocaust.
- Starting September 2020 –Educators teaching the Holocaust are required to follow the guidelines and best practices as set by the Holocaust Center for Humanity and OSPI. Workshops and professional development opportunities will continue to be offered throughout the state. 1:1 consulting is available to support teachers through the Holocaust Center for Humanity.
- July 2022 – November 2022 – The best practices and guidelines will be reevaluated along with the impact of this legislation. At that time a mandate for Holocaust education in all Washington State middle and high schools will be considered.
Is there a set curriculum that I need to teach?
No. The Holocaust Center for Humanity, in partnership with OSPI, has created guidelines and best practices. These include a wide variety of lesson plans targeted to different grade levels and subjects, and flexibility for teachers to tailor lessons to their needs. There are even proposed outlines for teaching about the Holocaust, no matter how much time you have, what grade level, and for both Social Studies and English Language Arts. The Holocaust Center for Humanity already has numerous programs and resources in place to support teachers, including 1:1 consultation to help teachers develop lessons and units that fit their classroom’s needs and goals.
How can the Holocaust Center for Humanity help me?
The Holocaust Center for Humanity has many free programs and resources including Holocaust Teaching Trunks; a Speakers Bureau (remote and in-person); a museum (with scholarships for field trips -- virtual and in-person); an annual Writing, Art and Film Contest; and professional development throughout the year. The Holocaust Center also offers experienced staff to assist teachers with planning their units and lessons and offer suggested resources and activities. Visit www.HolocaustCenterSeattle.org to learn more.
How can I support the teachers in my school/district?
Which states mandate teaching the Holocaust in schools?
As of May 2021: Arizona, Arkansas (effective 2022), California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin.
I have more questions – who should I contact?
Recommended Lessons & Activities (that don't require a teacher!)
Readings you can print and share, short videos, critical thinking questionsmore. Teaching and learning from home can be a challenge, especially when there are so many other stressors ocurring around us. These resources take that into consideration - they are short, engaging, and can be used independently.
Overview Lessons - By Subject
Each of the Overview Lessons includes a brief reading, links to short video clips of survivor testimony (transcripts are provided if accessing video clips is not possible), and critical thinking questions. Each lesson can be downloaded and printed. Designed for students in grades 7 and up.
- Pre-War Overview
- Changing World Overview
- Flight and Rescue Overview
- Ghettos and Camps Overview
- Liberation and Post-War Overview
- Resistance Overview
- Enduring Lessons Overview
Writing, Art and Film Contest
Deadline for submissions July 1, 2020. Open to students in grades 5-12 in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Alaska. The Writing, Art, and Film Contest chLEARN MOREenges students to explore the history and stories of the Holocaust and to consider how individual actions, big and small, make a difference.
With My Own Eyes
A 20-minute educational film that serves as an introduction to the Holocaust. This video weaves the testimonies of local Holocaust survivors with contemporary issues of bullying, bystanders, and world genocides. The goal of the View Filmary is to introduce the viewer to the Holocaust and to connect this history to our world today. For grades 7 and up. Nominated for the Association of King County Historical Organizations Legacy Award!
What was the Holocaust? (online article and questions)
Antisemitism (online article and questions)
The Nazi Terror Begins (online article and questions)
Flight and Rescue (online article and questions)
Life in Shadows: Hidden Children and the Holocaust (online article and questions)
The Jewish Ghettos: Separated from the World (online article and questions)
Nazi Camps (online article and questions)
Post-War: Chaos and Challenges (online article and questions)
Armed Jewish Resistance: Partisans (online article and questions)
No Time to Think (pdf article and questions)
Book By Book: Small Grants
Book By Book: Small Grants for Teachers
Building a future of empathy and respect one book at a time.
Grants up to $500 for Washington State public school teachers.
When students learn about the Holocaust, they learn the importance of speaking out against bigotry and indifference, promoting equity, and taking action.
In order to support educators who are teaching about the Holocaust, the Holocaust Center for Humanity is offering small grants to Washington State public school teachers who need to purchase books for their students' use. To support this program, click here.
Please review all of the details on this page, including eligibility, before completing the application.
Grants will be awarded only for the purchase of the titles listed in the "Best Practices" Literature Section. (Eligible titles include those listed under "More Recommended Books.")
Teacher guides and supporting materials are available for each of these titles.
Guidelines & Details
- These funds are to support the purchase of the titles featured in our Best Practices. You can see those here. (Eligible titles include those listed under "More Recommended Books.")
- The application requires the teacher to outline which books they will purchase with the funds, how they will be used, demographics of their classroom and school, and the expected impact or outcomes. Please see below (“Application”) to gather requested information. Once started, your application will not be saved before submitting.
- Teachers receiving funds commit to completing a report on the use of the materials. Report includes: Letter of impact from the teacher, notes of thanks from students (optional), 5 photos or a short video. Permission should be obtained from students so that the Holocaust Center can share this publicly. Deadline for report will be determined when awarded.
- Grants range from $100 - $500. Scholarships are available to teachers in public schools in Washington State and priority is given to Title I schools. Books are intended for grades 5-12.
- Applications are reviewed on the 1st of every month and teachers are notified by the 10th of every month. Selected teachers will receive payment within 2-3 weeks of notification, or by the last day of the month.
Support this program!
Your gift will ensure that teachers across Washington State will have access to needed funds to purchase books for their students to enhance their Holocaust education.
Speakers Bureau - FAQs
FAQs about hosting a member of the Speakers Bureau
Who are the speakers?
Our Speakers Bureau includes Holocaust survivors and Legacy Speakers. Legacy Speakers are children and grandchildren of survivors, children of liberators, and children of rescuers (Righteous Among the Nations). Learn more about our speakers at the “Meet the Speakers” web page. Please note that we cannot guarantee specific speakers; requesting specific individuals in your application does not mean you will necessarily receive them for your group.
What does a Speakers Bureau presentation consist of?
Speakers share their memories, or those of their family members, of the Holocaust with students. These stories may include experiences of discrimination, segregation, separation from and loss of family, life in hiding, the ghettos, concentration camps, liberation, and immigration. Although many speakers are well informed about some aspects of the Holocaust outside of their own experiences or those of their family, few are expert historians. Their presentations are offered as personal, eyewitness accounts. Most are accompanied by visual aids in the form of PowerPoints with primary sources, photos, maps, and video clips.
Why should I book a speaker?
Outcomes for students are overwhelmingly positive and meaningful. From our extensive work with students, and hundreds of post-speaking engagement survey results from students and teachers, we know that hearing personal stories from survivors or Legacy Speakers is the most powerful way to learn about the Holocaust.
How long is a presentation?
Speaker presentations in-person and on Zoom are between 35 and 60 minutes. We recommend at least 10-15 additional minutes for Q&A with the speaker, which is facilitated by a Holocaust Center volunteer or staff member.
When can a speaker be booked?
Speakers can usually be booked to start their presentation anytime from 9 AM to 3 PM on weekdays, except major federal and major religious (primarily Jewish) holidays. Weekdays and evenings may be possible, speaker and staff schedules depending. Contact the Holocaust Center if you have specific questions.
Who are the presentations suitable for?
Groups of 20 or more, students in Grade 5 and above, as well as adult groups. The Holocaust Center for Humanity is located in Seattle, WA and priority is given to schools and groups in Washington State and the greater Pacific Northwest. If you are outside this area, we encourage you to check with your local Holocaust museum.
What is the fee?
Virtual speaker presentations: free for schools. $100 fee for businesses, and adult or community groups.
In-person presentations: free for schools, except reimbursement of any travel expenses for the speaker (usually small, for driving mileage). $100 fee for businesses, and adult or community groups.
For virtual and in-person engagements, an honorarium from any group or school is always welcome; typical honoraria are anywhere between $25 and $200.
How do I book a speaker?
How do I best prepare students?
The Holocaust Center has many resources for this! Browse our Best Practices, schedule a virtual field trip, attend weekly public Lunch-and-Learns, and so much more. You will also receive a document on preparing and debriefing students once a speaking engagement is on the calendar for your group.
Can speakers do inviews with students, or one-on-one projects?
On a case-by-case basis, the Center can help arrange for a speaker to meet with one student or a small group; or exchangevia email or phone. Please contact us for more information.
How can students, teachers, or others get more involved with the Holocaust Center?
There are many ways to get involved. Use our other resources, consider joining the Student Leadership Board, Teacher Advisory Board, or Board of Directors. Train to become a docent with the Center, or volunteer at events. Spread the word and encourage your peers and colleagues to host a speaker!
Can I become a member of your Speakers Bureau?
The development of Legacy Speakers is made possible with the generous support of Debbie Killinger; the Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation, Inc; and the Norcliffe Foundation. Funding for Women's Voices in History was made possible, in part, by a grant from the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle.