The Changing Spaces of Reading and Writing

The Holocaust and Points of View

My Project

I chose to take the following photograph as a start to a project for students, as a way to teach aspects of point of view, short story reading and writing, social responsibility, and social studies content:

Classroom Humiliation

Classroom Humiliation

I wrote three short stories, all using different points of view, as models for students, and created a writing assignment for them.  I used tips from the Bolter text to create a site that I, tomorrow, will have the students start working on.  (I find my best learning – and best retention – happens when I use a practical application of materials!)  The following is the project information included on my website; here is the site itself.


This project has been prepared for a grade 6/7 class that has already been studying background information on the Holocaust, and that has already been taking on the persona of a variety of different people connected to the Holocaust in numerous paper journal entries (e.g., Hitler, a Jewish person being moved into the ghetto, a member of the Hitler Youth).

I received electronic permission from the Yad Vashem website ( in order to use the photo, and although their website says the picture is from Germany, other websites that used the same photo referred to it as being from Vienna, Austria, so I took the artistic liberty of calling the location Vienna.

Materials Used

By using photoshop’s slice function, I was able to make the large picture clickable in a variety of locations.   I used my previously established Mambo website for the majority of the project, but used an SMF bulletin board for homework and Classblogmeister for student blogs.  (Student responses may not be up at this time; they will be doing this assignment shortly.)


I chose to use this particular photograph as a starting point as it allows for students to connect with people from the past who were roughly their own age.  Earlier in the year, my students had reacted quite strongly to this image, in disbelief that a teacher would post such a message and humiliate students.  This photograph also allowed for an explanation of several different points of view, the star conveniently representing the omniscient, or all-seeing point of view, thus creating a multidisciplinary assignment that addresses learning outcomes for Language Arts (both Reading and Writing), Social Studies, and Health and Career Education.

I included hypertext in the short stories to reinforce information that students have already learned, or to introduce new information that will help in their understanding of the stories, thereby extending the ability of print to improve understanding. (Bolter)  These hypertexts open in new windows, to prevent students from “losing” the original stories through a series of mouse clicks, yet allowing for further research as the students wish.

As my students have already been establishing their own educational blogs, I chose to have students post two different assignments related to this activity on their blogs: the first asks them to reflect on point of view, the hyperlinks, and content, whereas the second requires students to show their understanding of both point of view and Holocaust content by writing a story that connects with the sample stories, that is written in one consistent point of view.  This isn’t necessarily interactive fiction in the way Bolter describes, yet for younger students, it is a manageable start.  Students will have opportunities to read and comment on other people’s stories as they complete their activities.

Their marking rubric for this last assignment is included in our class homework electronic bulletin board.  This lets both students and parents to know the criteria for assignments.

By using a variety of different electronic platforms that all link together, students not only develop knowledge and skills in academic subject areas, but also improve their technology knowledge and skills.  The use of blogs for their final drafts of their short stories also gives further incentive to producing good quality work, as their audience is not just the teacher, but the world.  This alone “remediates print.”

Works Cited

Bolter, J.D. (2001). Writing Space: Computers, Hypertext, and the Remediation of Print. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Yad Vashem Shoah Resource Center. (n.d.). Retrieved October 12, 2009, from Yad Vashem – The Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority:


1 Catherine Gagnon { 11.30.09 at 1:25 am }

Wow Tracy, I don’t know how many hours you took to create this activity, but it is amazing! I like that it incorporates visual cues along with text to not only explain the assignment but to spark interest in the project.

Using the picture allows you to explore how students interpret visual cues, not just how they feel after reading your short stories. And then allowing the students access to external links and therefore continued exploration of the theme, really makes it a holistic activity.

I can really see myself using this design to create activities for so many social studies courses. Great stuff!

2 Diddly { 11.30.09 at 8:33 pm }

Your activity is really great Tracy. The photo as entry into the story from different perspectives is a perfect visual aid. I am sure it will help students to remember the distinctions you have created.

3 Tracy Gidinski { 12.11.09 at 11:26 pm }


It turns out that another bit of technology I used was the program Insight on our school computers. By watching their progress through the screens, I was able to throw a positive message when someone tried using a hyperlink directly to them, to remind students to try out the hyperlinks and to think about them, and was able to keep kids from wandering too far from the assigned task. With Insight too, I also threw out a quick poll: “How many people liked this assignment?” Even knowing it was anonymous, the percentage of “yesses” was 76!

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