IWitness Partners with Facing History and Ourselves

Mon, 10/19/2015 - 5:00pm

USC Shoah Foundation and Facing History and Ourselves have established a partnership in order to develop meaningful and engaging learning resources centered on Holocaust survivor testimonies.

Facing History and Ourselves is an international educational and professional development organization whose mission is to engage students of diverse backgrounds in an examination of racism, prejudice, and antisemitism in order to promote the development of a more humane and informed citizenry.

As part of the partnership, USC Shoah Foundation, working with Facing History and Ourselves, has provided video testimony from its Visual History Archive to complement the teacher’s resource guide Facing History and Ourselves: Holocaust and Human Behavior. The stories in that collection, also available in IWitness, are told by survivors, witnesses, and rescuers. For deeper exploration into these individual's stories, links to their full length testimonies are available in IWitness.

Facing History and Ourselves, working with the USC Shoah Foundation, is building new IWitness activities that complement the Holocaust and Human Behavior program and align with the Facing History pedagogy and USC Shoah Foundation methodology.

The first activity, Choosing to Rescue, is now published on IWitness. In this activity, students learn about and reflect on the decisions made by individuals who rescued Jews during the Holocaust. Students explore the experiences of three rescuers from the Holocaust and consider what influenced the choices they made. Students locate, describe, and reflect on decision points within the testimony by using a graphic organizer. Students also use evidence from the testimony to consider how identity, point of view, and surroundings influenced the decisions they made. 

The activity concludes with students writing a personal reflective journal that conveys their thoughts and learning about the choices rescuers made during the Holocaust. Students share their work and then discuss their thinking with classmates.

Today, Facing History and USC Shoah Foundation co-hosted their first joint professional development webinar, Survivors and Witnesses: Using Survivor Testimony in the Classroom. The one-hour webinar for educators was led by Facing History’s Director of Program Technology Deb Chad and USC Shoah Foundation Senior Content Specialist Lesly Culp. It provided information and strategies for using IWitness survivor testimony in the classroom in conjunction with Facing History and Ourselves: Holocaust and Human Behavior.

“One of the most powerful elements of what Facing History brings to the field with its programs is the engagement of students with the nature and impact of choice,” said USC Shoah Foundation Director of Education Kori Street. “The choice to work with FHAO on this partnership was an easy one and with the successful launch of the new IWitness activity and integration of testimony into FHAO’s programming it is evident that it will be a good choice leading to a positive impact on the field.”