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Diary of Ann Frank: Historical Background Activity of World War II

written by: Kellie Hayden • edited by: Wendy Finn • updated: 1/17/2012

The Diary of Ann Frank is a perfect book to study in High School, as students will readily identify with her character. Begin by discussing the history and background of the Holocaust, World War II, Hitler, the Nazi regime, and Jewish customs and culture.

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    Background & History

    Before students begin reading The Diary of Ann Frank, they need to understand some basic information about the world in which Ann lived. It is not one which some students are acquainted and should be discussed. This can be done as an integrated unit with the history teacher or as a focus in the language arts classroom.

    Group Students and Choose Topics

    Select students to be placed in five groups. These groups will research a main topic and create a PowerPoint for the class that they will present.

    Possible background topics:

    • World War II
    • Holocaust/concentration camps
    • Hitler
    • Nazi regime/secret police
    • Jewish customs and culture

    Group Research

    Once students have been placed into groups, they need to select a topic. The group needs to then break the larger topic into a smaller subtopic for each student in the group to research. The teacher may want to take the groups to the library or computer lab so that students can do some basic research on the topic.

    Once everyone in the group has a sub-topic, each student should complete a small research paper. For middle school students, this could be a 1-2 page research paper. Make sure to teach the students how to properly format the paper in MLA or APA style. The most important thing is that they include a bibliography or works cited page.

    Make a Power Point

    Group dynamics can be daunting when making a PowerPoint. Have each group decide on the "technique" first.

    Technique #1 -- Each group member will create three slides from his or her research paper. Ask one person to make the introduction and ask one person to make the closing or concluding slide. The group should decide on a template together and an editing session should include all students in the group. The people who did not make the introduction or the closing must do most of the talking during the presentation.

    Technique #2 -- Assign each member a task: PowerPoint organizer and maker, picture/image finder, introduction and conclusion maker, and two presenters. Each person will highlight three important points in their research paper and give it to the Power Point organizer. The other members will complete their tasks to complete the project.

    When the students give their presentations, assess it using a rubric. The criteria for the rubric could be teamwork, content, organization, voice, eye contact, creativity, and/or neatness.