“Using Language to Disarm Conflict”

Created by Allison Krenz

Prefatory Statement:

                  This unit is titled “Using Words to Disarm Conflict.” We live in a world that is increasingly involving young people in violent conflict. Children are no longer granted the position of innocent bystanders. It is important for all of the world’s students, in order to make a more peaceful world, to be aware of the nature of conflict, current world conflicts, and strategies they can use to start towards conflict resolution.

                  In an English classroom, the importance of using words (through reading and analyzing literature, researching, and creating multi-media communicative presentations) can be especially highlighted while studying conflict. Beginning with their own personal conflicts, students will be expected to delve into the nature of conflict from small to large scale. Since this is such a huge topic and only a five week unit, the necessity for a variety of carefully-chosen texts is integral in order to achieve the diverse amount of perspectives needed for the students to begin to comprehend the complexity of the issues around the world.

                  The unit requires students to use and develop their listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills. It will also give students the opportunity to use a WebQuest in order to introduce themselves to current world conflict, and to choose a literature circle book for which they will plan a conflict resolution progress plan for. Students will use personal conflict to bridge to community conflict and will eventually connect to world conflict (and the ramifications of conflicts after they have ended). It is important for students to understand how conflicts can be resolved and how power of words in the resolution of conflict. As this understanding is reached, students will then use their own words to resolve conflict in their own lives and at a world scale. This idea is built on Anne Frank, and on the power of a simple diary, written by a young girl amidst absolute devastation, to affect the entire world.

                  Since the nature of conflict is dynamic and active, the students will be expected not only to passively interact with text, but to create plans of progress for their own personal conflicts as well as the world-conflicts that they research. They will actively engage in literature circles, poetry posses, research writing, and personal reflection in order to react and act on the texts that are presented. The unit is fast-paced, and, simply because of the subject matter, requires maturity to deal with the intensity of study that is expected.


Class Specifications:

This unit is appropriate for a mature 11-12th grade class. The teacher should also take care to recognize whether the class is able to handle the process of recognizing and planning resolution for personal conflicts. If the school is in a volatile area, or it is clear that the students’ personal conflicts are too heavy (or dangerous) for close inspection, the teacher should adjust accordingly. The teacher may also want to have a good connection with the school guidance counselor in case the personal conflicts become too much for the classroom teacher to comfortably deal with.

Students will be given a lot of personal control in the unit, so the teacher needs to determine if the class can handle being independent at times. 






-  That students are at the maturity level to deal with the intensity of the material that is presented. The materials that the students will be expected to read deal with graphic images and difficult situations, and students will be stretched beyond some comfort levels.

-That the teacher is willing to allow the students room for their own reflection and process of conflict resolution. Students will be journaling about a personal conflict throughout the entirety of the unit, and teachers need to allow  freedom in the classroom to do this. The teacher may also need to enlist the help of a school guidance counselor if the issues that the students choose to reflect on cause distress.

-That the study of conflict is integral to making peacemakers out of our future world citizens. Students (no matter what community they come from) need to understand that it is their responsibility to be knowledgeable of the world around them and about the necessity for direct action in order to bring about a more peaceful world.

-That words are a powerful force in the resolution of conflict. Students will learn through a variety of texts that words, and images associated with words, are integral in: gaining understanding of the nature of conflict, giving perspective on what living through conflict entails, understanding the power of mediation and communication in resolving conflict, and projecting what ramifications conflict has on not only on the participants but on the surrounding world as well.

-That students have the basic skills necessary to navigate through a WebQuest and a basic understanding of research/writing skills that they can use for their research of a world conflict.

-That students feel safe enough in the community of the classroom to participate in discussion with their peers, as well as comfortable enough to reflect on their own personal conflicts. 


Interdisciplinary Connections:

This unit will fit in nicely with social studies, because the literature circles will have a choice of contemporary text about children/teenagers in conflict around the world. The study of Anne Frank will also integrate history, geography, and cultural studies. The unit will also fit in with art, because the students will have the opportunity to make their final presentations in an artistic presentation.


Standards Met:

Based on Minnesota State Standards:


I.C.: Analyze a variety of nonfiction materials selected from journals, essays, speeches, biographies, and autobiographies.


I.D.3: Read, analyze and evaluate traditional, classical, and contemporary works of literary merit from civilizations and countries from around the world.


II.D.1: Use print, electronic databases, and online resources to access information, organize ideas, and develop writing.


II.D.2-4: Narrow focus, developing research plans.


Big Questions:

-What are the conflicts in my life, and how can I come up with resolutions to these conflicts?

-What are current conflicts that affect people like me around the world?

-How do different types of texts convey conflict?

-How can worlds enable, instigate, resolve, and reflect on conflict? Are they appropriate vehicles for discussing world-wide conflicts?


Desired Outcomes:

The student will have learned:

-How to effectively take part in group discussion and collaboration concerning a literature circle book from a diverse perspective.

-How to analyze contemporary media sources, poetry, short stories, and conflict management literature. How to draw distinctions on the diverse ways that words can represent and help to resolve conflict.

-How to use research materials to gather information on a world conflict.

-How to develop an effective “plan for conflict resolution” proposal.

-How to reflect on their own experience with conflict and how to develop a plan for change, using their preferred mode of multi-media presentation materials.


Possible Activities:


Whole Group Activities:

-Class reading of Anne Frank

-Mini-lessons on Anne Frank (including vocabulary journals)

-Webquest on current world conflict to choose literature circle book

-Writing workshop and reading of Getting to Yes

-Evaluation and integration of Conventions on the Rights of the Child guidelines

-Cooperative learning project

-Community involvement project


Small Group Activities:

-Jigsaw on first day (theme launch activity)

-Literature circles on current conflict texts

-Poetry posses


Individual Activities:

-Current conflict collection activity and presentation

-Journaling about and developing a plan for resolution of a personal conflict


Technological Activities:

-Webquest to determine literature circle book choice

-Research on current world conflict present in literature circle book choice

-Multi-media presentation option


Integrating Critical Literacy:

-Point of View Activities:

                  *Why is being able to see from a different perspective important in conflict resolution?

*In the articles about current conflicts: Where is this source from? What makes it reliable? Are there other points of view that this story can be told from?

*Literature circles: Analyze the culture where this text was written. How does this affect the text? What other points of view could be used in the story? Tell a portion from a different point

                  of view.

*Analyzing personal conflicts: Tell your conflict from a different point of view. Reflect on how this might help with resolution.


Student Resources:

Every student will need:

-A copy of Anne Frank

-A copy of Getting to Yes (Bruce Patton & William Ury)

-A folder to keep track of poetry, short stories, and other handouts

-A personal journal

-A copy of literature circle book


Materials for Teachers:

Short Stories:

“By the Waters of Babylon” (Stephen Vincent Benet)

“The Peace-Keepers” (Michael Meek)



“Arms and the Boy” (Wilfred Owen)

“Dulce et Decorum Est” (Wilfred Owen)

“I have Never Seen Such Days as This”

“Sorrow Song”


Literature Circle Books:

One Day the Soldiers Came (Charles London)

A Long Way Gone (Ishmael Beah)

Sold (Patricia McCormick)

Children of War (Deborah Ellis)


Media Resources Needed:

-Access to newspapers/internet for individual current conflict research

-Variety of resources for students to use for their final assessment task (Webquest Task 3).


Organization of Unit:


Week One

-First Day Anticipation Activity (see attachment)

-Reading of “By the Waters of Babylon”

-“Personal Journal Assignment” introduction

-Writing Workshop

-“Classroom Conflict Environment Assignment” introduction and sign up

-Reading of Getting to Yes Chapter 2

-Anne Frank Reading Days #1 & 2


Week Two

-Anne Frank Reading Days #3, 4 & 5

-Poetry Posse Day # 1

-Discussion of journal assignment

-Discussion of “Proposal for Conflict Resolution”

-Writing Workshop

-Reading of Getting to Yes Chapter 3



Week Three

-Anne Frank Reading Day 6

-Journal Assignment Discussion

-Writing Workshop

-Reading of Getting to Yes Chapter 4

-Webquest Day

-Literature Circle Days #1 & 2


Week Four

-Literature Circle Days #3, 4, & 5

-Journal Assignment Discussion

-Writing Workshop

-Reading of Getting to Yes Chapter 5

-Poetry Posse Day #2


Week Five

-Literature Circle Day 6

-Current Conflict Presentations

-Group Day (time for working on presentations)

-Personal Journal Assignment reflection conferences

-Literature Circle Final Presentations


The format of “Reading Days” allows individual teachers to guide discussions and assessments according to their personal classroom environments and style of teaching.


Need more detail?  Look at attached pages for:

-Anne Frank Reading Days Guide/Suggestions

-Getting to Yes Plan for Conflict Resolution Worksheet/ Personal Conflict Journal Assignment

-Current Conflict Assignment


Individual Lesson Plans for:

-First Day of Unit

-Anne Frank Reading Day #5

-Poetry Posse Day #1


Assessing the Unit:

If possible, this unit would be assessed on a contract grading system. Because so much of the material is on personal reflections and views of the world, the material is best assessed through conferencing and self-evaluations. It is important to make sure that the “C” Level of the contract ensures that the students are doing at least the basic level to gain understanding.


The contracts would be signed on the first day of the lesson, and students would go back to check their contracts during every writing workshop day (there are four writing workshop days integrated into the timeline).


The contract handout that the student and the teacher sign can be found attached to the unit.


If contract grading is not allowed at certain schools, each teacher can easily compile assessments that would be appropriate for his/her particular classroom. Checklists, rating scales, observation notes, and rubrics would work well for this type of unit. Staying away from selected response would probably not work as well in this type of unit because it would be difficult to compile a test that would authentically assess the deep understanding that students need in order to complete the tasks in the unit.


Assessment Task

Task Three of the Webquest provided is intended to be a culminating assessment task for students to use.


Tasks that can extend the unit (these tasks are also listed as part of the “A” requirement in the assessment contract):


-Cooperative Learning Project:

In a central spot of the school (possibly a display case or bulletin board), students will compile a representation of current world conflicts. This can be seen as an extension of the “Current Conflict” environment that the class will be making in the classroom during the unit. Students will be required to write a proposal to fill the space to hand into the school administration, and each small group will be responsible for part of the board or space.


-Community Involvement Project:

Students will propose a community volunteering project that will help alleviate some type of conflict in the community. Some examples of this would include “Feed my Starving Children,” volunteering at a food shelf, or possibly becoming peer mediators in their school. Before compiling this part of the project, they will be required to thoroughly research and write a proposal.


-Writing Project:

While researching their “Current Conflict” for the classroom environment, students will be required to form a child-friendly project  about their conflict that they can present to a younger grade at a nearby elementary school. Before compiling this part of the project, they will be required to thoroughly research and write a proposal on their individual idea to hand in to both the class instructor and the elementary teacher. 



Theme Launch Activity:

“Disarming our Mindsets”


Lesson Length: 60 minutes

Stage 1 – Desired Results

Content Standard(s):

I.C.: Analyze a variety of nonfiction materials selected from journals, essays, speeches, biographies, and autobiographies.


Understanding (s)/goals

Students will understand that:

There are international guidelines put in place to protect children around the world from danger (especially in war zones).


Working in cooperative groups is useful because there are more minds working on a difficult concept.


Building a peace language starts at the a basic, individual level.


Essential Question(s):


How can words (spoken and written) help to alleviate conflict (and help those who are affected by it)?


What role do words have in developing guidelines that protect victims in conflicts?


Student objectives (outcomes):

Students will be able to:

Actively work in a cooperative learning setting.

Gain basic understanding of The Convention on the Rights of the Child

Begin to address the power of words in conflict.

Stage 2 – Assessment Evidence

Performance Task(s):

In this lesson, there is not a specific performance task, because the students’ performance task will occur as a final assessment task for the unit. For more information about the final assessment task, see Task 3 of the Webquest.

Other Evidence:

-Completed process on unscrambling the words to The Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the rights that they listed during the jigsaw activity concerning specific articles.

-Journal entry on the relationship of language to conflict.

-Exit slip addressing the knowledge gained during the jigsaw of the different articles of the convention.

Stage 3 – Learning Plan


Materials Necessary:

Original Source: http://www.iwtc.org/ideas/27_disarming.pdf

This lesson plan was originally developed by Idi Cheffou, Coordinator of Education, Peace * Development in Niger.


The original lesson plan contains the words that will be used for the unscramble, along with the discussion questions that can be used to start the discussion.


It also provides links to The Convention on the Rights of the Child to get the articles from. Make sure that before class the teacher divides the conventions into separate articles and folds them for students to choose from when they are expected to work during the jigsaw.




Lesson Timeline:


Introduction (5 minutes):

-Write the scrambled words on the board before the students enter the room.

-As students enter, give each of them a blank sheet of paper and instruct them to unscramble the words on the board. Don’t give them any context about where the words come from, or what relationship they have to each other.


Developmental Activities (40 minutes):

-After giving students about five minutes to unscramble the words by themselves, tell them to get in pairs.

-Tell the students that the words are related because they center on worldwide conflict. Give them about 5 minutes to finish unscrambling with their partners now that they are aware of the context.

-As a large group, collect the unscrambled version of the words and write them next to their scrambled counterpart on the board.

-Divide students into groups of four. For about 10 minutes, have the students discuss the questions listed. Tell students that they will be journaling later in the period about the discussion topics, so they should be paying close attention to the input from the other members of their group. During this time the teacher should be going from group to group and facilitating the conversation.


-If the teacher wishes, the discussion can be brought to a large group setting. With about 30 minutes left in the developmental activity time, the teacher should begin the jigsaw with the students.


-In each group, number the students from 1-4. Then divide the groups according to number. Once the new groups have been formed, have each group pick two of the folded articles of The Convention on the Rights of the Child.

-For each article, the group is responsible for listing 2-3 of the rights that have been listed in the two articles that they have picked. They can do this on the back of the page where they unscrambled the words.

-After the students have completed listing the rights, they need to go back to their original groups. Each group member will then present the rights in the articles that they chose. By doing this, the students will gain information about all of the articles in listed in the convention.


Concluding Activities (10-15 minutes):

-Have students take out their journals. Inform them that this activity is just the beginning of the unit where they will learn about the power of words in resolving conflict. Have them write continuously for the remainder of the class period on their personal reflections on this idea.

-With about five minutes left in the class period, have the students take out a separate piece of paper and write and exit slip to hand in at the end of the period. The exit slip needs to only inform the teacher about the value of the lesson to them.

-With two minutes left, have each of the students line up with their completed journal entries. As they leave the room, check off their completed journal entries, and have them turn in their exit slips and completed progress papers.  








Poetry Posse Day #1


Lesson Length: 60 Minutes

Stage 1 – Desired Results

Content Standard(s):

I.D.3: Read, analyze and evaluate traditional, classical, and contemporary works of literary merit from civilizations and countries from around the world.


Understanding (s)/goals

Students will understand that:


Poetry is a form of literature that can describe conflict. That there are values to using the poetic form to convey conflict, but that there are also shortcomings to the poetic form in this context as well.

Essential Question(s):


How can words describe conflicts?


What type of text is the most compelling in calling for a resolution of a conflict?


Is any type of text more effective than another in conveying the experience of living through conflict?

Student objectives (outcomes):

Students will be able to:

-Read and effectively analyze the rhetorical devices used by Owen in his poem “Dulce et Decorum Est”

-Work actively in collaboration with classmates to conjecture about the context of the poem.

-Reflect on personal conflict in poetic form.

Stage 2 – Assessment Evidence

Performance Task(s):

The performance task will not be turned in during this lesson. It is a part of the “Personal Conflict Journal Assignment,” and will allow the students to continue on their development of describing their personal conflict and work towards their proposal for resolving the conflict.

Other Evidence:

-Individual completion of worksheet discussing the rhetorical devices evident in Owens’ poem.

-Individual work on personal conflict told in a poetic format.

-Post-it observations analyzing how student is participating in his/her poetry posse.

Stage 3 – Learning Plan

Materials Necessary:

-A copy of “Dulce et Decorum Est” (one for each student)

-A copy of the analysis worksheet (one for each student)
-Journal space for each student



Introductory Activity (10 minutes):

-Instruct students to sit down and take out the journals that they have been using for their “Personal Conflict Journal Assignment.”

-Tell students that they now have time to describe their conflict by writing a poem about it. The idea is for them to just creatively try at this point, as a way to warm them up. Tell them that they will have ten minutes to begin.


Developmental Activities (40 minutes):

-Hand out a copy of “Dulce et Decorum Est” to every student. Have them form groups of three (their “posse”). Instruct them to read the poem aloud to each other.

-Hand out the analysis worksheet. Tell the students that they have about a ½ hour to work through the questions together. Each student needs to fill out their own individual sheet, but they are expected to work together to collaborate and complete the questions.

-As the students work through the worksheet, the teacher should walk around with post-it notes and observe the students work with each other. The teacher should write the observations down about every student, and use them to assess the student at the end of the day for their participation. The post-it notes can be placed on the finished worksheets for the students to see the feedback that they received about their active participation.


Concluding Activity (10 minutes):

-Have the students individually turn back to their poems in the journals that they wrote at the beginning of the class period.

-Have them respond to the following prompt while reflecting on their original poem:

“Is poetry effective in describing conflict? Does your poem convey your personal conflict better or worse than your other descriptions in your journal?”

-Before students leave, check off their passages for completion (can be done while they are journaling) and collect their analysis worksheets.


Attached: Worksheet for posse interaction.




“Using Words to Disarm Conflict”












Completion of everything in the “C” and “B” Contracts, Plus:

The Diary of Anne Frank:

                  -Completion of 5/5 Response Papers

                  -Completion of 5/5 Exit Slips

Literature Circle:

                  -Completion of 5/5 Literature Circle Logs

Choice of Extended Project (Cooperative Learning, Community Involvement, or Writing Project)




Completion of everything in the “C” Contract, Plus:

The Diary of Anne Frank:

                  -Completion of 4/5 Response Papers

                  -Completion of 4/5 Exit Slips

Literature Circle:

                  -Completion of 4/5 Literature Circle Logs

                  -Excellent Participation in Task 3 Presentation

Current Conflict:

                  -Completion of all requirements concerning the Current Conflict Assignment




The Diary of Anne Frank:

                  -Completion of 3/5 Response Papers

                  -Active participation in group discussions

                  -Completion of 3/5 Exit Slips on Reading Days

                  -Completion of ALL activities completed in-class on Reading Days

Literature Circle:

                  -Completion of WebQuest (All 3 Tasks)

                  -Active participation during ALL literature circle days

                  -Completion of ALL activities completed in-class during literature circle days

                  -Completion of 3/5 Literature Circle Logs

                  -Adequate participation in Task 3 presentation

                  -Completion of Rating Scale and Reflection for group members in literature circle

Personal Conflict Journal Assignment:

                  -Responsible work ethic on writing workshop days

                  -Completion of ALL items on checklist

                  -Completed conference with Miss. Krenz about assignment process



Name: ____________________________________


After reviewing the contract, I am committed to achieving a(n) _______ for the “Using Words to Disarm Conflict” Unit.



Signed:____________________________________________________      Date:__________________


Miss Krenz’s Signature:_______________________________________________________________
































“Using Words to Disarm Conflict”

Personal Conflict Journal Assignment


The conflicts that you are going to be studying in this unit may seem way too large for you come up with a conflict resolution for. They are large-scale, violent, world conflicts about which even the best world leaders are sometimes stumped about.


Even the biggest conflicts, however, have to start somewhere. Many of them start as personal conflicts that grow much larger. For this unit, you will be able to delve into a personal conflict in your own world. You will have the opportunity to explore that conflict through your own journaling and will be able to construct a “Plan for Conflict Resolution” using the book Getting to Yes as a great resource to help you. This is a project that will last for five weeks, so make sure that you stay engaged during the class time that you have to work on it!


This is a project that is intended to be highly personal. The journaling and reflections that you will be writing are confidential. In order for me to assess that you have done the work, you will be filling out a reflection and conferencing with me to discuss the points of Getting to Yes, and what you learned from this process. You do not have to share anything that you don’t want to. If you do share something that is potentially dangerous to you, I will need to contact the guidance counselor.


You will have four class periods to work on reviewing and proposing a solution for your conflict. The structure for the class periods will largely be writing and reading workshops in which you are responsible for getting the following done:


Day One:

-Read Chapter 2 of Getting to Yes

-Write 3 points on conflict resolution that the chapter showed you

-Spend 20 minutes or so journaling about a conflict in your own life

-Draw at least 2 connections between your own conflict and the chapter of Getting to Yes


Day Two:

-Read Chapter 3 of Getting to Yes

-Write 3 points on conflict resolution that the chapter showed you

-Journal a possible solution to your conflict using the information that you have learned from Getting to Yes so far.


Day Three:

-Read Chapter 4 of Getting to Yes

-Write 3 points on conflict resolution that the chapter showed you

-Review the conflict that you wrote, and the solution. Reflect (in writing) on whether you need to change your solution a little bit considering what you have learned from the fourth chapter.


 Day Four:

-Read Chapter 5 of Getting to Yes

-Write 3 points on conflict resolution that the chapter showed you

-Considering your initial journaling, your proposed resolution, and your reflection on them, draft a proposal for going resolving your conflict.

*Remember: This proposal does NOT need to be something that you actually carry out in your life. If it in any way puts you in danger, you can use this space as just a brainstorm space for what you would do if the conflict didn’t put you in harm.

-The proposal needs to include:

                  -A description of the conflict

                  -How you propose to solve the conflict

                  -Citations from Getting to Yes about how your proposal is an effective form of conflict resolution

-You also need to sign up for a conference slot in which you will turn in your checklist and reflection (see below) to me. 




Reflection for Personal Conflict Assignment


(this is the only material that you need to bring with to your conference with me)


Checklist: Review your journaling materials and check off if you did the following:

___Getting to Yes Chapter 2: Three Important Points

___Getting to Yes Chapter 3: Three Important Points

___Getting to Yes Chapter 4: Three Important Points

___Getting to Yes Chapter 5: Three Important Points

___Initial journal entry detailing your personal conflict

___Proposed solution for conflict

___Reflection on conflict and proposed solution

___Final copy of your proposal


How was writing about your personal conflict?







Did you make any additional entries regarding your conflict? Where/when did you write them?





Did Getting to Yes shed light on how to possibly resolve your conflict?





Did you cite Getting to Yes in your final proposal?





Has this process helped you in your conflict resolution?





How has writing your conflict down helped you to see it in a different way?






Why is it important to start on a personal conflict level?






In this situation, do you see any power in the words that you wrote in being able to change your world?







Finally, is there anything else that you want to share with me?








If you would like, you can share your journal with me.
















“Using Words to Disarm Conflict”


Current Crisis Classroom Environment Assignment


In order to become aware of the conflicts that are surrounding us in our world today, we need to research and understand the wide variety of issues that take place around us. You cannot be expected to learn about all of the conflicts on your own, so our entire class is going to undertake some research so that you can become more knowledgeable. Our classroom will soon become an environment where we will (literally) be surrounded by current, pressing conflicts. As we discuss how our words can affect the conflicts that we are learning about, we can use your individual research as grounds for stimulating discussions.


Your Assignment:

1) Sign up for a day that you will be responsible for bringing in your research.

2) Research a current conflict (you can use a variety of sources to do this, but you only need to have 2 reliable resources cited). Before writing about the research, check with Miss. Krenz to see if the conflict that you researched is appropriate to display in the classroom.

3) Find/Create a visual that you can place around the classroom for your classmates to see.

4) Along with your visual, your final project will have two paragraphs: one that describes the conflict, and one that proposes a solution by using one of the mediation techniques from Getting to Yes.

5) Turn in your two paragraphs (with proper citations included at the bottom) on the day that you signed up.


On **/**/**, everyone will present a 1-2 minute synopsis of the conflict that you visually placed in the classroom.





















“Using Words to Disarm Conflict”

Poetry Posse Day #1 Participation Sheet

“Dulce et Decorum Est” By: Wilfred Owen

Directions: In your poetry posse, use the poem to answer the following questions. You can use the bottom/back of this page to do so. You will be assessed individually, but your participation with your posse will also be assessed, so work together to be successful!


Translate the following: “Dulce et decorum est propatria mori.” Identify where in the poem this line was written, and explain (in one-two sentences) the significance of the placement of this line where it occurs in the poem.



Choose one line from the first stanza of the poem. Carefully explain the meaning this line, paying close attention to the diction (word choice) employed by Owen. As a conclusion to your explanation, briefly discuss why this line is important to the tone of the first stanza.



Using direct examples from the text, analyze Owen’s imagery in the poem. In your response, include how the imagery directly gives clues to both context and tone.



Does writing a poem like this lead to conflict resolution? If yes, how does it do so?
























Anne Frank Reading Days Activities and Resources


The nature of “Reading Days” is very flexible because each classroom teacher goes about discussion with a different approach. The vision for the unit to be as conducive to a classroom discussion is as follows:

The “Reading Days” for Anne Frank are focused on student discussion. Instead of having the students try to dissect a massive amount of study guide questions that test only basic reading of the diary, the students are expected to come into class every day with a response paper written. The guideline sheet for the responses is attached.

During each reading day, students will have the opportunity to discuss their responses as well as to answer some of the “big questions” for the day that the teacher gives out. Each day, the student will also be required to fill out an exit slip reviewing and reflection on that day’s discussion.

An example of how a “Reading Day” is carried out is attached to the unit.


A great resource for articles that the students can read during the reading days is The World of Anne Frank: A Complete Resource Guide. This can be found at the following address:



A hard copy can also be ordered.



In order to express the role that words play in conflict, Teaching Tolerance has a wonderful lesson plan that could cover two of the reading days. If this is used, the teacher would have to take extra measures to make sure that the students are keeping up with their reading.




Examples of “Big Idea” discussion questions are supplied by the teacher and supplement the student-generate questions can be found by the publishers of one of the Anne Frank editions. They can be accessed on http://www.litlovers.com/guide_annefrank.html


They are listed here for convenience:


1. After the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands in May 1940, the Dutch people were immediately faced with the question of choice: how to respond to the Nazi occupation. Tens of thousands of Dutch people followed Hitler, and millions more looked the other way. Eventually, a resistance movement began to grow. The Nazis needed Dutch collaborators to carry out their fascist decrees.
What would have influenced someone to become a collaborator? What factors would have encouraged someone to join the resistance? Do you think these factors were based on personal characteristics or political beliefs? What was the price of resistance during the war? What was the price of collaboration?

2) Anne Frank and her family were German refugees who resettled and tried to build their lives in the Netherlands. Although the Franks were proud of their German heritage, their feelings toward Germany became very complicated during the war. Anne wrote: "Fine specimens of humanity, those Germans, and to think I'm actually one of them! No. that's not true, Hitler took away our nationality long ago. And besides, there are no greater enemies on earth than the Germans and Jews." (October 9, 1942.) Although Anne had lived in the Netherlands since 1934, she did not become a Dutch citizen.
Did Anne have a nationality? If not, were Anne's civil rights protected by any nation? By 1939 some 250, 000 Jews, half of Germany's Jewish population, had fled their homeland. Did these refugees have any guaranteed rights? After the war Otto Frank responded to references to "the Germans" by asking "which German?" He believed strongly that blaming all Germans was another form of stereotyping. What constitutes a stereotype? How is a stereotype different from discrimination?

3) In The New York Times the writer Anna Quindlen asked, "Would our understanding of the Holocaust be quite the same if Anne Frank had not taken a small plaid diary into hiding with her?" What has most shaped your understanding of World War II: personal experience, Anne's diary, popular films such as Schindler's List, newsreel footage, academic or historical texts?

4) Otto Frank chose to edit out some of the negative comments Anne made about her mother and a number of the other residents of the Secret Annex--comments that have been restored in the new translation by Susan Massotty. He believed that Anne would have wanted him to do so. Do you think he was correct?

5) In her diary Anne opined: "... if you're wondering if it's harder for the adults here than for the children, the answer is no... Older people have an opinion about everything and are sure of themselves and their actions. It's twice as hard for us young people to hold on to our opinions at a time when ideals are being shattered..." (July 15, 1944.) When was the last time as an adult that you experienced the "shattering" of an ideal? Is the media a neutral force, or do you think it plays a role in supporting or destroying idealism?

6) Are there certain characteristics common among those few individuals who risked their own lives to rescue Jews during World War II? Why do so many of them deny their own heroism?

7) A disturbing number of neo-Nazi groups have taken hold in all parts of the world. What social conditions would be necessary for them to grow? What do you believe would be the most likely basis of another world war: pride, nationalism, fear, racism, economic interests, or religious intolerance?

8) Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann was asked how he could explain the killing of 6 million Jews. He answered, "One hundred dead are a catastrophe, a million dead are a statistic." Have we become more or less tolerant of murder since he made this observation?

9) Anne Frank wrote: "I don't believe the war is simply the work of politicians and capitalists. Oh no, the common man is every bit as guilty; otherwise, people and nations would have rebelled long ago!" (May 3, 1944.) How should accountability be assigned? So many say they never understood what was happening. How likely could that have been?

10) Hitler published Mein Kampf in 1925, describing his plan for the elimination of Jews. At that time, what steps might have been taken to stop Hitler's rise to power?












































The Diary of Anne Frank

Reading Response Guidelines


For each of the five days that we will be reading The Diary of Anne Frank in class, you will be largely responsible for the discussion that takes place. The nature of discussion requires all members to carry their own weight, and writing a response paper will help you do this.


In order to be prepared for the discussion, you need to:

-Read the assigned pages

-Bring a response paper to class on the reading day


For each response, you will be required to write (in long-hand or on a word-processor):

-A paragraph detailing your immediate reaction to the text

-At least 3 questions about your reading. These questions should not be based on the plot of the book, but should rather be useful for discussion. They can be about parts of the text that you found confusing, or parts that needed clarification. Write questions that you actually want to discuss when you come into class the next day.


At the end of the reading, you should have five complete responses to turn in so that you can meet contract requirements.