Teaching The Diary of Anne Frank can be a little overwhelming for middle school and high teachers. First, there are many sensitive topics within the text. Secondly, teachers want to be empathetic to those students who are delicate and can be affected by traumatic topics. Teachers want to teach the time period and the story to the best of their ability. Simultaneous they want to evoke and show empathy and understanding. For me, the month of May is teaching The Diary of Anne Frank. This is one of my favorite units, not only because of the diary, because I get to teach empathy, perspective, and “walking in someone else’s shoes”.
How I Teach the Diary & The Time Period
Because of the timing and many interruptions in May, I teach through many medias and excerpts from Anne’s diary. I incorporate poems, videos, Power Point presentations, pictures, and other pieces to give my students the full effect of the diary.
DAY # 1-I start off with the an Anticipation Guide which asks students to share their opinions on general statements. For example, students have to agree, disagree or neutral a statement like, “A leader should be kind, gentle, and understanding.” The students then have to support their claim with their own opinions and feelings. Check out my free anticipation guide:
The Butterfly Project
In more recent years, I added “The Butterfly Project” to my projects I complete with this unit. If you have never explored this project, you can find more information about it here. This project is a gentle approach to teaching a difficult topic. It focuses on the power one person has to make a difference in today’s challenging world. Sharing personal stories from Holocaust survivors and families, painting ceramic butterflies to honor the 1.5 million children killed in the Holocaust, and creating art installations as reminders for courage, justice, remembrance, and hope.
This can be an ancillary project for your students to complete. I have the students each take ownership of a poem from the book, “I Never Saw Another Butterfly”. Here are some of the butterflies my students have created.