Understanding Now to Change the Future

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Students will begin this mini-unit by remembering/discovering the Tree of Life Shooting. The class will utilize a video, numerous primary source documents, discussions, and journaling in order to begin to understand what happened one year ago. The discussions should lead students to contemplate what may have led to this attack, what antisemitism is, and how the world reacted. While we can only begin to digest this horrific event, it will set the table for the rest of the mini-unit.

On day two, students will begin to discuss the trend of antisemitism and hate crimes in general. Students will have the chance to dig into statistics provided by the FBI on hate crimes in America on a year to year basis. As this discussion matures, the class will switch its focus to what factors may cause these actions. The class will pick one factor and break it down. Students are left with the task to think about ways to eliminate that element of hate in themselves, their families, and their communities.

On the final day, students will work together to evaluate potential routes to change. The real goal of day three is to get the kids thinking of ways to create a positive change and to realize that anyone can make a difference. As ideas are discussed, the class will begin to plan how to accomplish at least one of the ideas. It is up to each class how far they take this last and potentially most important step.

Ezekiel Stroupe is a middle school gifted support/reading teacher for the Seneca Valley School District.


Suggested Technology: Computer for Presenter, Projector, Laptops for Students, Cellular phones for students, Internet Connection.

Instructional Time: 2 hours.


  • Ateret Cope
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The following lesson plan has won Classrooms Without Borders' THIRD PLACE PRIZE in the contest for lesson plans about antisemitism and hate, in commemoration of the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.

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