2023 Summer Academy


The Zekelman Holocaust Center invites Michigan educators to register for our Holocaust Education Summer Academy from August 7-10, 2023 at West Bloomfield Middle School. Whether you are new to teaching the Holocaust or an experienced Holocaust educator, the Summer Academy has specialized professional development sessions with resources for your classroom. You can choose from 12 different sessions and earn SCECHs throughout the week. All sessions are completely free to Michigan educators. Click HERE for information on hotel accommodations.

At the Summer Academy, you will gain a deeper understanding of Holocaust history and pedagogical practices, and also receive: 

  • Free teaching materials for multiple disciplines 
  • Free SCECH hours for each session completed
  • Opportunities to collaborate with other educators around the state 
  • Lunch provided by The HC each day 
  • Access to new workshops being released this fall
  • Opportunities to hear from our Next Generation Speakers (Children of Holocaust Survivors) 
  • Access to our bus subsidy program for your visit with students next school year 

The Summer Academy is offered in-person at West Bloomfield Middle School in conference-style format, with two morning and two afternoon session options available each day. You can customize your Summer Academy experience by selecting the topics most applicable to your classroom. Register for individual sessions or for all four days.

On Monday, educators can enroll in the full-day program “Foundations for Teaching the Holocaust,” which provides an overview of Holocaust education principles and resources. At the end of the week, educators can participate in our roundtable discussion “Transforming Holocaust Education.”

1. Orientation and Welcome (Monday pre-session)

Join us for an introductory activity and a keynote presentation. Scott Koenig, Social Studies Consultant to the Michigan Department of Education, will present on culturally competent and responsible leadership and disciplinary integration thinking.

2. Foundations for Teaching the Holocaust (Monday AM/PM)

The Holocaust teaches us what people are capable of doing to others when hatred goes unchecked. This full-day workshop is designed to enhance teachers’ knowledge, capacity, and confidence to teach about the Holocaust. Educators are introduced to pedagogical principles and explore classroom lessons, visual history testimonies, and other resources that examine aspects of the history and its continued relevance today. This session examines how teachers can use all of the resources of Echoes & Reflections and USC Shoah Foundation’s iWitness to teach the Holocaust, connect learning to current events, encourage inquiry-based learning, and foster empathy. This session will also highlight new approaches to teaching and learning the Holocaust and new Echoes & Reflections guided student activities.

3. Eugenics and the Holocaust: The Biology of Hatred (Monday AM)

Eugenics is the attempt to “improve” a human population by controlled breeding in order to increase desirable hereditary characteristics. Eugenics was a core principle of Nazi ideology. The Nazis believed that the Germans were a “master race” and wanted to eliminate the threat of “inferior” genes. This ideology required murdering fellow Germans who were deemed to be unworthy of life, in addition to eliminating entire peoples considered to be inferior races. This session focuses on the evolution of eugenics in Nazi Germany, which enabled everyday German citizens to believe in the devaluation of human lives. Teachers will learn about medical ethics during the Holocaust and how to teach students how the Nazis used (pseudo)science to justify genocide.

4. Analyzing Propaganda and Teaching Media Literacy (Monday PM)

Media literacy skills are essential tools for critically assessing all manner of visual, written, and social media today. Students are exposed to increasing amounts of information every day. It is crucial for them to be able to distinguish between news, opinions, beliefs, and propaganda, and for them to understand how media, both historically and in contemporary society, can be used as a tool to incite hate and violence against certain groups. This learning opportunity examines the events of the Holocaust through the lens of the media, by analyzing propaganda deployed by the Nazis to discriminate against Jews and other minorities. Educators will gain access to Echoes & Reflections tools to facilitate classroom discussions on the role and impact of Nazi propaganda during the Holocaust and teach their students to critically analyze media in today’s world.

5. Preventing Genocide: Lessons from the Holocaust (Tuesday AM)

How does genocide happen? And how can learning about genocide help us learn to build peace instead? In this session, educators will explore the definition of genocide and best pedagogical practices for teaching about the Holocaust and other genocides in the classroom. By exploring the Holocaust as an in-depth case study, educators will examine how genocides unfold and their hallmark warning signs. Using graphic models designed to illustrate the processes of genocide and peacebuilding, educators will learn how to teach about the significance of contextual factors, individual attitudes and choices, and collective actions. The session culminates in a discussion of the practical and concrete ways that students can act as upstanders and help prevent genocide in the world today.

6. Understanding Bias and Building Inclusive Spaces (Presented by ADL Michigan) (Tuesday AM and Wednesday PM)*

This is a new session from our partners at ADL Michigan. ADL (Anti-Defamation League) employs a multi-faceted educational, community relations and legal approach to combat antisemitism and hate of all kinds, promote diversity, and build bridges of understanding between communities. Incidents of bias are prevalent in our schools, communities, and online, and they can be particularly harmful to those who are targets. In this session, participants will examine identity and bias, discuss the importance of challenging biased attitudes and actions, and share ways to champion justice through education.

7. Teaching the Holocaust: The 6-Hour Plan (Tuesday PM)*

There are times when you will have only the minimally required six hours to teach about the Holocaust. Although it is a complex and difficult topic, there are strategies you can use to create a worthwhile experience for your students, whether your focus is ELA or social studies. During this workshop you will begin to outline your goals and objectives, create classroom strategies, and develop a list of appropriate resources and activities to use with your students. You will leave this workshop feeling confident that you will be able to develop a 6-hour unit plan that will help your students understand how and why the Holocaust happened, and what we can do to stand up for the rights of others.

8. Learning the Holocaust Through the Humanities (Tuesday PM)*

The Holocaust is a human story, and the humanities are an effective lens through which to teach it. In this program, educators will learn strategies to integrate primary sources into their Holocaust instruction, such as art, poetry, photography, and testimony. Utilizing humanities sources builds empathy for and connection to the stories of the Holocaust. This session will not only provide a diverse array of sources, but will aid you in incorporating them into your Holocaust lesson plan.

9. Women and the Holocaust (Wednesday AM)*

The Holocaust was not gender neutral. Women experienced the Holocaust as women and were targeted differently as women. This session explores women’s experiences under Nazi control, focusing on Jewish victims and survivors of the Holocaust, as well as women who risked their lives to resist hatred and help others during one of the darkest times in human history. Centering the experiences of women provides a more nuanced understanding of the Holocaust and its impact. Educators will learn how to incorporate women’s stories into their Holocaust lessons.

10. The Power of Choice: Resistance, Rescue, and Perpetration (Wednesday AM)

The Holocaust was not inevitable. Rather, it was the result of many choices made over time by individuals and groups. This session explores how and why some people chose to spread antisemitism and commit genocide, while others fought to resist hatred and act with compassion during this period in history. Utilizing primary sources, case studies, and testimonies, educators will examine the various personal, social, and political factors that influenced decision-making during the Holocaust through three broad categories of action: resistance, rescue, and perpetration. Teachers will gain the knowledge and tools needed to contextualize for their students the complex choices that people make during genocide and to encourage learners to think critically about the power of choice in the face of injustice and violence.

11. Spotlight on Contemporary Antisemitism (Wednesday PM)

Read the news and it is clear: Antisemitism is not a relic of the past, but a hatred the world struggles with today. It is important that educators have the resources and tools to talk with students about contemporary manifestations of antisemitism and hate. This learning opportunity explores Echoes & Reflections classroom materials to support effective teaching of contemporary antisemitism, its global reach, and its expression in the form of hate speech, violence, denial, and distortion of the Holocaust. Educators will also explore ways to teach students how to actively respond to and prevent antisemitism and other forms of prejudice in their communities.

12. Integrating the VME into the Classroom (Thursday AM)*

The Virtual Museum Experience (VME) is a live-facilitated education experience, comprising museum artifacts, survivor testimonies, and storytelling. This session will introduce you to the VME, how our Museum Educators prepare and modify them for each classroom, and explore the different ways that you can build them into your lesson, before, after, or apart from a museum visit. We will highlight resources and activities that work to support the VME in the classroom, and participants will leave with ideas and a plan on how to implement a VME for their classroom. All participants will receive a voucher for a free VME for their classes for the 2023-2024 school year.

13. Differentiated Instruction Using Survivor Narratives (Thursday AM)*

Survivors of the Holocaust have shared their experiences by creating and circulating a wide array of text-based media since the 1930s. Text analysis allows us the opportunity to learn Holocaust history from those it impacted the most, while sharpening our students’ critical thinking skills as they ask and answer their own deep historical questions. Teaching text-based analysis in the secondary social studies classroom allows for a greater opportunity to engage students with diverse learning needs in the discussion. This session provides strategies for engaging all students in the rigorous, inquiry-based social studies learning called for by The C3 Framework for Social Studies. We will provide resources and strategies for scaffolding text-based analysis for diverse learner needs, as well as pedagogy for teaching it in the classroom.

14. Transforming Holocaust Education: Roundtable Discussion (Thursday PM)*

To conclude the Summer Academy, presenters will engage attendees in a discussion about what we have learned and how we intend to apply it.

*New Session in 2023


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