TeachHolocaust.org is live – to help teachers make curriculum plans, meet state mandate | Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle

TeachHolocaust.org is live – to help teachers make curriculum plans, meet state mandate 


“Navigate the Holocaust with confidence.” That’s the promise of a recently launched website that offers free curriculum plans for “building reliable, respectful and rigorous lessons on the Holocaust” to Wisconsin educators. 

The Holocaust Education Map, as TeachHolocaust.org is called by content developers at the Nathan and Esther Pelz Holocaust Education Resource Center, is timed to help educators comply with a new state law that requires middle and high school social studies classes teach the Holocaust and other genocides.  

The state mandate takes effect for the 2022-2023 school year. TeachHolocaust.org is being built up and taking input from educators so the site meets their needs as it grows. In 2020, when the site was not yet live for all, the Chronicle reported that developers recognized that teachers tend to take information from different places to build a curriculum, but they would often like a simpler process. 

“Our goal is that several school districts will have been trained to use the online toolkit and will have provided valuable feedback as we move forward,” said Samantha Abramson, executive director of HERC, which is a program of Milwaukee Jewish Federation. The website went live over the summer and HERC has been offering virtual training to educators. 

Currently, teachers have access to about 115 lesson plans, searchable by grade level, class length and social studies requirements. 

The site is organized around four content areas: “Intolerance/Anti-Semitism Origins,” “Nazi Rise to Power Within Germany,” “Holocaust, 1939-1945” and “Responsibility/Aftermath.” 

“Our goals are to provide a user-friendly platform to help educators in finding historically accurate, expertly curated lessons in a digital age when the content out there can be overwhelming,” Abramson said. 

HERC’s online educational programming and outreach to schools comes at a time when many Holocaust survivors are no longer here to tell their stories. “Holocaust centers and museums worldwide are grappling with the dilemma and coming up with innovative ways to continue sharing history,” Abramson said.  

Samantha Goldberg, HERC director of education, created many online lesson plans. She is now promoting the website to educators, working with them so they feel comfortable using it. “I know that Holocaust education is, for a lot of people, a complex and uncomfortable subject to go through. This website is there to make it simpler.” 

Funding for the project came from the Harri Hoffman Family Foundation. 

Dustin Rondeau is one of a dozen members of HERC’s Teacher Advisory Group. He is a world history teacher at Beloit Memorial High School. “Teachers may be feeling a little bit overwhelmed by the prospect of meeting all the state social studies standards and making sure they’re incorporating the mandate,” he said. “But if they have these resources available to them, these lessons, they can see that the content can fit in anywhere.”  

Rondeau echoes the importance of Holocaust education in schools. “It’s super important not to gloss over the worst things that have happened in history,” he said. “Some of the darkest chapters can teach us a lot and we can start to see similarities in our world today.” 

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Wisconsin mandate 

The state Holocaust education mandate, which was enacted after Jewish community lobbying and testifying, takes effect in the 2022-2023 school year.