USC Shoah Foundation Unveils IWitness 2017 as New School Year Begins

LOS ANGELES – Aug. 31, 2016 – In preparation for the new school year, USC Shoah Foundation unveils its annual update of IWitness, a free online resource that is among the world’s foremost education tools for teaching compassion. IWitness program provides teachers with a robust collection of age-appropriate learning activities that illuminate major chapters of world history – all while helping students develop compassion and hone essential digital skills.

In all, IWitness has made five major upgrades. Here they are:

• Guatemalan Genocide activities

The upgrade includes two new IWitness activities in Spanish about the genocidal campaign against indigenous Guatemalans at the hands of their own government.

“Memorias de Rio Negro: Jesús Tecú Osorio” teaches about the history of Guatemala and shows clips from Osorio’s testimony to convey how the genocide affected the life of one individual. “Guatemala: A Silent Genocide” teaches about the origin, history and phases of the genocide against the Mayan population of Guatemala from 1981-83.

• Mini Lessons

IWitness debuts a brand-new type of activity: mini lessons. Testimony-based mini lessons are designed to provide teachers with a readily accessible teaching resource for targeted instruction on skills (such as annotating text) or concepts (such as prejudice) that can be used within an existing lesson or unit. Each mini lesson will include 1-2 clips of testimony from the Watch page on IWitness and is intended to take 15-30 minutes to complete.

• Downloadable Student Work

Students can now download their work from IWitness including video projects and word clouds. They can also share these projects on social media using the hashtag #USCIWitness.

• Rubrics

To help teachers grade their students’ work, IWitness is debuting new rubrics. These rubrics will provide guidelines for teachers to follow when grading their students’ completed IWitness activities such as video activities and information quests.

• More New Activities

In addition to the two Spanish-language activities about the Guatemalan Genocide, IWitness will add five more learning activities: “Righteous Among the Nations,” “Einsatzgruppen: The Firing Squads of the Holocaust,” and “The Danger of a Single Story” – all in English; “La Experiencia Migratoria: Una Nueva Vida en México,” in Spanish, in which

students explore the migrant experience, including the economic and socio-emotional impact on the individual; and two more in Hungarian, “Dörnhau - Tenyérbe rejtett rajzok” and “Sonderkommando (Son of Saul).”

“This new iteration of IWitness opens an array of teaching possibilities that further broadens the focus and expands the capabilities of this global resource,” said Kori Street, director of education at USC Shoah Foundation. “It enhances our ability to reach the ultimate goal: to teach students worldwide the importance of compassion and bring about positive societal change. ”

For more information:



About IWitness
IWitness, which the American Association of School Librarians has named as a top website for teaching and learning, provides students with guided exploration to full-life histories and testimonies of more than 1,500 survivors and other witnesses to the Holocaust and other genocides. Students watch testimonies and use them in individual or group multimedia projects; teachers can assign activities as classwork or homework, and can even custom-build their own lessons and activities. The testimonies are searchable by more than 9,000 keywords, enabling students to pinpoint exact moments of interest within each testimony. The built-in IWitness video editor gives students the ability to construct video essays and edit testimony as well as integrate footage and other materials from outside sources such as photos, maps, voiceover audio, music and text.