Institute News

Czech Teacher Trainings to Instruct on IWitness

In order to properly educate more Czech teachers on how to fully utilize IWitness programs, Senior International Program Consultant and Regional Consultant in the Czech Republic Martin  Šmok is holding two teacher training sessions in August.

The sessions will take place in Brno and Prague, the two biggest cities in the Czech Republic, located on opposite ends of the country. The Brno session will take place August 9 at the International School of Brno.  The Prague session will take place August 4 at the Malach Center for Visual History at Charles University, the country’s full access site of the Visual History Archive.

Though each 1.5-day session can only host 12-16 teachers, Šmok is selecting teachers he believes will be “multiplier teachers” — those capable of spreading their knowledge to more educators — to participate. 

“This workshop will provide hands-on experience and training that could be shared (peer-to-peer) through the existing teacher networks,” Šmok said.

Šmok regularly hosts teacher training sessions for Czech high school and secondary teachers, but this program will likely host grammar school educators from UNESCO and other international schools as well. The session will also be different in that Šmok plans to introduce Armenian and Rwandan themes in addition to the Holocaust-themed activities he has covered with teachers in the past.

“The aim is to grow the IWitness user base and get it to use the Holocaust and Genocide themed activities as well as the new ones revolving around refugee experiences and reactions of the majority population to refugees, so much resonating with the current events,” Šmok said.

Šmok is currently accepting applications for the workshop. Attendees’ travel, lodging and meals will be provided thanks to a grant from Bader Philanthropies, Inc. to OpenEye.

During the program, Šmok will cover the three Czech language IWitness activities available, their relevance to current events, digital and media literacy, a new Czech language activity that is in testing, a new IWalk that is in testing, and much more.

“Teachers have been asking for a hands-on training; many heard about IWitness but drop out not realizing what they miss by not registering as IWitness users,” Šmok said. “Many think the watch page is all that they could get. … So now they will have two one and half day practical workshops in Czech that will walk them through the IWitness features.”

Holding these teacher training sessions will also increase the number of resources available to Czech educators by empowering them to create and share their own activities.

“[I would like to establish] a country-wide network of regional trainee cohorts capable of promoting IW as a resource, creating their own IWitness activities, and contributing to the Czech IWitness use and content,” Šmok said.

Though the Czech Republic might be a small country, USC Shoah Foundation has a long history with it. The Institute has been working in the country for more than 20 years now, including when it collected 4,500 testimonies that were given by Czech survivors and witness — 558 of which were in the Czech language.

The Malach Center, where the Prague training will take place, has been a full access site for the VHA since 2010. The Center was only the third place in Europe to provide full access to the VHA. Today, in addition to hosting training sessions such as the one in August, the Malach Center also collaborates with local educators and students on using oral testimony in the classroom.