Technology in the Social Studies Classroom: A Case Study
George Cassutto

Summary: The Internet has become an integral tool in the arsenal of the secondary level content area teacher. The phenomenon is especially true in the area of Social Studies, where each of the major content areas have primary source material available as well as commentaries and lesson plans to help the Social Studies teacher make the subject come alive. The challenge that lies before the Social Studies teacher is to develop a lesson plan where technology enhances learning rather than replaces it. In this case study, the topic of the Holocaust as it appears on the Internet  is integrated into an interdisciplinary approach to learning about the topic. The lesson involves using Holocaust resources on the World Wide Web to give students a basic perspective on the topic, but students then go one step farther to use web publishing to react to what they saw. The final product is a meaningful summary of what the students have learned, but their final product can be used as a means of prejudice reduction and increased acceptance of all cultures and lifestyles.

Lesson Title: Teaching the Holocaust through a Personal Perspective

Lesson Objectives: In this lesson the students will:

Content objectives:
  1. Identify key events and concepts relating to the rise of Fascism in Germany, the causes and course of World War II, and the Holocaust.
  2. Determine how the politics of the mid-20th century translated into racial politics and ideologies.
  3. Recognize and develop the idea that the Holocaust is not just a major event in 20th-century world history, but that it is also an event in the lives of individual human beings, having a ripple effect on subsequent generations as well.
  4. Relate the experiences of individuals who lived through the Holocaust to situations and dilemmas that young people might face in today's society.
Technology objectives:
  1. Use computer, internet, and digital technology by creating original artwork, poetry, prose, and essays that reflect an understanding of the Holocaust, its causes, and its effects.
  2. Post their written content on the school website for public viewing.
  3. Maintain a dialogue with visitors to the website who provide reviews and commentary via e-mail and electronic discussion board.

The Lesson Plan: Materials Needed and Technology Accessed

Students will need to have access to the Internet in a classroom or lab setting. Teacher will need an overhead projector. A PC linked to a TV or LCD projector is recommended so that images can be projected for students. An encyclopedia CD-ROM such as Encarta will be needed, as well as CD-ROMs dealing with the Holocaust, such as Survivors or "Lest We Forget." The Social Studies Service ( has issued a CD-ROM entitled "Teaching the Holocaust With the Internet," which can be used to locate Holocaust lesson plans and resources quickly.

Introduction (Also called "Warm-Up" or "Anticipatory Set")

A) Find out what students already know about the Holocaust. Have them brainstorm terms and ideas for 2-3 minutes. Also have them write down one or two questions that they want answered. Collect their questions and read them aloud anonymously. Use the Holocaust Museum's website entitled  
The Holocaust: A Learning Site for Students
at for basic information on the Holocaust to illustrate answers and concepts for the students. Teachers can project these pages or allow students to review them in a lab setting.

B) As an overview, have students begin at to answer one or more of the following questions. Then have students present the answer to the  question that they researched. Students can use the projector-linked PC to present their findings.

Main Activity: Creating a Web-based Holocaust Journal

A) Have students use the WWW to locate a website that tells the story of a victim or survivor of the Holocaust.
B) Some recommended websites and topics include:



Simon Wiesenthal Center: Museum of Tolerance
Simon Wiesenthal Center: Museum of Tolerance

C) Instruct students to develop a hand-drawn, flow chart, storyboard or PowerPoint presentation that outlines the experiences that they found within the website that they located. Students should be prepared to share the information they located with the class. The collection of student work will be brought together in a Holocaust Journal on the school's website.

Guided Practice: Using Artwork, Poetry and Music to Apply the Lessons of the Holocaust

A) Inform students that they will be developing a student website on their views regarding the Holocaust. Allowing the students to choose the topic on which they would like to write by choosing from the list below:

B) Once students have chosen a topic, they must then choose a format. These may include:

 C) Allow students to have up to three days in the library and/or computer lab to develop their web page. Students should develop artwork and written text at home and have their artwork scanned at school. Students should use graphics programs such as Paint Shop Pro or Adobe Photoshop to create unique headers and graphics for their pages. The teacher will develop an index page that will act as a gateway to the site. Students will work on web site design, scanning, image editing and web page development for three to five days. Using Front Page 2000, a discussion board will be placed on the website for students and scholars to express their views. The teacher will edit any comments posted to the discussion board that are inappropriate. All e-mail will be previewed by the teacher before sharing with students. Inflammatory e-mail ("flames") will not be shared with students. All pages must have a link to the index page and to the main page of the school and to the main page of the school system. Remind the students that inappropriate material will not be published and will result in failure for the project. Follow district procedures for placing student work on the school's web server.

Student Project: America and the Holocaust

Student Project: America and the Holocaust

Closure/Wrap-Up: Activity: Using Poetry to Understand the Holocaust
For another look at a poetic expression of Holocaust-related ideas, print and discuss the following poems:

"For The Fuhrer":
"For My Parents: May 10, 1940":

Have students research the life of the Nobel Prize-winning writer Elie Wiesel. Using passages from his book Night, compare the descriptions of the camps with the elements of the first poem. Discuss the importance of acceptance of diversity and methods for prejudice reduction, especially through use of the Internet.

More information on Elie Wiesel can be found at:

Biographical Information:
Wiesel's Nobel Prize acceptance speech:

Evaluation: The following rubric should be used to evaluate students' projects:

  1. Did the student stay on the topics listed or agreed upon? 5 = best. 0 = worst.
  2. Is the product meaningful? Does it reflect values of acceptance and prejudice reduction? 5 = best. 0 = worst.
  3. Is the product grammatically correct and have accurate spelling? 5 = best. 0 = worst.
  4. Is the product aesthetically pleasing, i.e.. colors compliment each other, graphics are correct size, etc? 5 = best. 0 = worst.
  5. Is the product based on research from primary and secondary sources from the web or the library? 5 = best. 0 = worst.
  6. Are sources well-documented with up-to-date links or full bibliographic information? 5 = best. 0 = worst.

Total possible score: 30 points.

George Cassutto's Cyberlearning World

     [Lesson Plan of the Day]     [Cassutto Memorial]    [About the Author]    [Search]    [Civics Lesson Plans]