Thank you Steven Spielberg!

In University I read Schindler’s List as a part of a Modern World History course. I loved the book. If fact I was so in love with the book that I refused to see the movie. When I heard that Steven Spielberg was going to film the movie entirely in black and white, I was appalled. The most moving scene in the whole book was Schindler seeing this girl in a little red coat wander through the ghetto as the Gestapo was trying to round up the inhabitants. I made up my mind: no red coat, no going to see Schindler’s List.

Luckily,Picture c/o Yad Vashem I backed down at some point and was pleasantly surprised that Spielberg thought the red coat was important too.

The movie was a huge success. Through Spielberg’s involvement in the making of the movie, he decided to create the Shoah Foundation at the University of Southern California. Today, the foundation houses thousands of eyewitness interviews of the Holocaust and other modern genocides for students, teachers, and researchers to access.

In teaching an online course about Genocide and Human Rights, this site worked well for my students to do deeper research as well as create a new product to share with their classmates.

Instead of having my students write a research paper on how daily life for Jews was affected by the Holocaust, my students created 5-8 minute movies within Shoah’s iWitness website.

Each movie was carefully created and personal to the student. Their movies covered subjects like: keeping or losing faith, medical experimentation in the camps, returning home after imprisonment, and the keeping of religious traditions while in captivity.

They didn’t get their information from some book. They got their information from the source, the people who lived the history themselves.

On iWitness I created a video project within the site for my students to log into. Much like other educational websites, when you create your account it also creates a classroom code that your students use to access your created assignment.

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Within the iWitness project that you create, your students are able to search for interviews on specific subjects. Students then can save the clips from the testimonies that they want to use later in their project.

The next step within the project allows students to create a movie using the interview clips they have saved. In weVideo students can edit, splice, add titles and graphics, and include music to help tell their stories.

As a college student watching Schindler’s List, I certainly never thought that one day I would be teaching a course online to students all around the world about Genocide and Human Rights. And for that matter, three of the genocides my students study had not taken place by the time Schindler’s List was released.

So I guess I just want to say, “Thank You Steven Spielberg.” Thanks for making a movie that educated so many about the horrors of the Holocaust. Thanks for setting up a foundation that continues to add more testimonies to educate us about horrors of Genocide. Thanks for doing your part to create a resource that helps our students to shine the light on intolerance in their world.

***A special thanks also goes to iWitness for making me this week’s featured educator. It is a great honor to represent the amazing work of the foundation.  Thanks for recognizing educators each week for the work they do with their students.

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