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Building Background Knowledge on The Holocaust

Main Core Tie

English Language Arts Grade 9-10
Reading: Informational Text Standard 2

Additional Core Ties

Secondary Library Media (6-12)
Strand 6: Standard 1:

Time Frame

1 class periods of 90 minutes each

Group Size

Large Groups

Life Skills

  • Thinking & Reasoning
  • Communication


Michelle Miles
Brooke Turnbow


This lesson will introduce ESL students to critical background information about the Holocaust prior to reading The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and will help them synthesize that information into a product for presentation (a Wordle). The lesson begins with a brief review on nonfiction reading strategies. Following this, students will work in pairs to answer questions specific to an interactive Holocaust Hotlinks activity. Their final assignment will be to identify key words about the Holocaust from their Hotlink activity and synthesize these into a Wordle for presentation during the following class session.


  • Computers with Internet Connection
  • Printed informational webpage (find one with charts, text & photo captions)
  • Highlighters
  • Color Printer (optional)

Background for Teachers

Teachers will need familiarity with the Holocaust and Internet resources, as well as instructional strategies for building non-fiction text comprehension.

Teachers will also need to know how to create Wordle word clouds.

Student Prior Knowledge

How to use a computer.

Familiarity with the Internet.

Intended Learning Outcomes

ESL Students will learn strategies for analyzing informational text to build background knowledge on the Holocaust before reading Boy in the Striped Pajamas.

ESL Students will create a Wordle and present them during the following class session.

Instructional Procedures



Instructional Sequence:

  1. Teacher/Librarian demonstrate non-fiction reading strategies by highlighting a printed webpage with text, charts and photo captions.
  2. Student pairs will view and read informational texts, including multi-media, through a Holocaust Hotlink activity which requires them to answer questions about their viewing and reading.
  3. Student pairs will create a Wordle using key words from their research.

Strategies for Diverse Learners

Websites may be clustered so groups of students may jigsaw the shared information.


Students may individually create a Wordle instead of in pairs.

Assessment Plan

Students will be assessed on completeness of answers on the Holocaust Hotlink organizer and the creation and presentation of their Wordles.


Reviewed by Michelle Miles

Created: 09/08/2016
Updated: 02/05/2018