Bring Survivor Stories into Your Classroom

Teaching students about the lessons of the Holocaust is both a great responsibility and a tremendous opportunity to influence the next generation. How can you bring these lessons into your classroom? Participate in the annual Holocaust Reflection Contest sponsored by the Holocaust Learning and Education Fund, Inc. and hosted by Nova Southeastern University (NSU).

Holocaust education is of the utmost importance to our school in order to honor, respect, and devote academic learning to those who suffered and survived. Likewise, it’s important to provide different avenues of learning for students to allow them to express both knowledge and emotion about such an important time in history. We like this contest because of the different options provided to express what they know and value about survivor stories. The students get to activate that critical thinking bank in a way that they enjoy. The students gain not only knowledge, but they gain understanding, appreciation, and respect for the lives they themselves have through the lives they read about.

Heidi Stidham | Past participating teacher

Satisfy the Florida Education Mandate

As part of the State of Florida's education mandate, middle and high school educators guide students to examine the Holocaust. By participating in the Holocaust Reflection Contest, your students will learn to:

  • understand the ramifications of prejudice, racism and stereotyping
  • examine what it means to be a responsible and respectful person
  • encourage tolerance of diversity in a pluralistic society
  • nurture and protect democratic values and institutions

State of Florida Education Mandate

Each Teacher of a Winning Student Receives

All participating teachers (with at least 10 students who submit valid entries) will receive a
$25 Target GiftCard.
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Why Teach the History of the Holocaust?

To Inspire a Generation of Social Change Agents

Teachers who participate in the Holocaust Reflection Contest often tell us it’s one of their most meaningful classroom experiences. While some educators are initially hesitant to discuss such a heavy topic with younger learners, the testimonies of Holocaust survivors can inspire students to discover the lessons of the past in their own ways.

I think virtues aren’t innate, even if they are our primary inclination. I believe humans must be taught humanity. Teenagers especially, whose young view of the world is often either apathetic and jaded or facile and superficial. They all need to be taught to care, and it is only when they see us care, that they do.

Eduardo Barreto | TERRA Environmental Research Institute AP English Language and Composition, English II Honors Gifted Teacher

You can help your students explore how to apply these lessons in their own lives. Young people are naturally invested in the future. Let’s encourage them to consider the role of human rights, social justice, and equality through acts of personal responsibility.

How You Can Engage Your Students

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Introduce your students to Holocaust survivor testimonies as a way to learn about the human experience of the Holocaust.

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Ask students to each select a single Holocaust survivor testimony that speaks to them. If students prefer to use a family member's story of surviving the Holocaust, that is also acceptable. This survivor story will serve as the student's primary inspiration for understanding and analyzing the lessons of the Holocaust.

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Help students identify and reflect on the lessons about perseverance, compassion, kindness, and the strength of the human spirit in helping those in need, rather than the destructiveness of hate and prejudice. It's most beneficial for student learning when teachers guide their students through the process of selecting Holocaust survivor stories that inspire them, and encourage them to reflect on the lessons learned from the study of those stories. Prompt your students to explore how these lessons can influence their lives in today’s modern world.

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To enter the contest, students need to avoid simply retelling the facts and narrative of the Holocaust. They need to reflect on and evoke how this genocide and the survivor's words can impact the student's own thinking and choices. Ask students how these lessons apply to the modern world.

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Each student creates an original project that clearly expresses what they learned about themselves and modern society by studying the personal, yet universal and timeless, lessons of the Holocaust.

  • written expression: essay or poem
  • digital: video or automated presentation
  • visual: art piece
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You can provide feedback and guidance to your students as they draft and finalize their projects. Students’ final projects are stronger when teachers provide feedback along the way so students can revise and improve their work.

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Please use the Teacher Checklist and share the Student Checklist with your students to stay on track and ensure students complete and submit their projects successfully.

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Help your students properly upload their projects using our online contest application. Your name will be included with each student's entry. If your student wins, you win too.

About the Contest

Frequently Asked Questions

Holocaust Education Resources

Training and Tools for Florida Educators

Holocaust education resources - Provided by the Florida Department of Education.

Holocaust Survivor Testimonies

Archives of videos, photos and written testimonies - Curated by the Holocaust Reflection Contest

Contest Checklist for Teachers

Teacher Checklist - Use this to ensure you don't miss a step.

Contest Checklist for Students

Student Checklist - Share this with students to keep them on track

Contest Poster

Contest Poster - Print this for display in your classroom or share the digital file with students.

Contest Notifications 

Sign up to receive email notifications about contest dates and deadlines.

Want to advance your teacher training and credentials?

Consider the Abraham S. Fischler College of Education and School of Criminal Justice at NSU. We offer fully accredited, comprehensive programs for certification and professional development with more than 20 degrees and 80 specializations. Graduate programs include various M.S. and Ed.S. specializations in education.

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