Asking Big Questions with the 2017 Student Essay Contest

Posted by Laura Tavares on February 6, 2017

I came to the teaching profession with big ambitions. Like many readers of this blog, I imagine, I’ve always loved learning, and I enjoy the effervescent and unpredictable company of kids. As a first-generation college graduate, I know firsthand how education can transform an individual’s life. But I also entered the classroom with the conviction that schools have a communal and civic purpose, too—that they are the root and heart of democratic societies.

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Topics: Contests, Student Voices, Writing, Holocaust

Behind the Essay: A Q&A with Student Contest Winner Cicada Scott

Posted by Stacey Perlman on June 7, 2016

Cicada Scott, a senior from Manitou Springs, Colorado, received the $2,500 Benjamin B. Ferencz Upstander Award for the 2016 Facing History Together Student Essay Contest. To celebrate LGBT Pride Month in June, we go behind the scenes to learn more about what inspired Cicada to open up about being a non-binary gender teenager. Preferring pronouns like "them" and "they," Cicada describes non-binary as a "catchall category for people who are neither exclusively male or exclusively female."

After graduation, they plan to attend college at the University of Colorado, Boulder. They are looking into studying robotics but are still deciding the right major. 

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Topics: To Kill a Mockingbird, Contests, Student Voices, Writing, LGBTQ

Powerful Poetry: Three Activities to Help Students Connect with History

Posted by Stacey Perlman on April 14, 2016

This month – National Poetry Month in the U.S. – is a great time to explore just how powerful words can be. When it comes to understanding difficult moments in history, poetry and writing can help students process and express their own thoughts about the world. Explore these three ways you can bring poetry into your classroom using tools from Facing History’s partner, USC Shoah Foundation – The Institute for Visual History and Education.

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Topics: English Language Arts, Poetry, Writing, Genocide/Collective Violence, Survivor Testimony, ELA, Holocaust Education, IWitness

Q&A with Arvaughn Williams: Advice for Entering the 2016 Student Essay Contest

Posted by Stacey Perlman on March 1, 2016

Arvaughn Williams is one of two finalists from the Facing History 2015 Student Essay Contest. He entered his spoken word poem as a student at City Arts and Technology High School in San Francisco, California. Arvaughn shares his thoughts about what the contest did for him and his advice for students entering this year’s contest inspired by To Kill a Mockingbird. Stay tuned for another Q&A with Shireen Afzhal, our other finalist from last year, for more encouraging words about entering the 2016 Student Essay Contest.

The deadline for submissions is March 16th at 5:00 p.m. ESTYou could win some fantastic prizes for you and your teacher so get ready to write!

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Topics: To Kill a Mockingbird, English Language Arts, Contests, Writing, ELA

My Mockingbirds

Posted by Margaret Stohl on February 18, 2016

Harper Lee's death reminds us that “To Kill a Mockingbird” is not only a classic work of American literature, but has also opened important conversations around the themes of race, justice, and morality. The day before Lee passed away, we published the following essay by writer Margaret Stohl, co-author of the bestselling young adult novel, “Beautiful Creatures,” on why “To Kill a Mockingbird” mattered so deeply to her. Our Teaching Mockingbird curriculum helps educators bring the historical context behind the novel into their classrooms.

I have a problematic relationship with conformity. Though I was born in Los Angeles, two generations of my family came from a small town in rural Southern Utah, and they carried the seeds of that community with them to California long after they left the town itself behind. As I grew up, I noticed that my family was nothing like our neighbors or my friends at school. We had different views, different beliefs, and different approaches to life. At the same time, the longer I lived in California, the less I fit in with my own family. That’s probably why, when I read Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird as a teenager, I felt an immediate connection to the novel’s main character, Scout Finch.

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Topics: Insider, To Kill a Mockingbird, Contests, Student Voices, Writing, Identity, Harper Lee, Margaret Stohl

Five Facing History Resources That Use Poetry to Build Skills

Posted by Julia Rappaport on March 20, 2015

April is National Poetry Month in the United States. By writing, reading, and analyzing poetry, students can study important lessons from history and explore topics of religion, culture, community, and identity. Get ready with five resources that use poetry to build reading and writing skills and encourage student voice.
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Topics: Classrooms, Books, English Language Arts, Poetry, Writing, Students, Facing History Resources, Holocaust, Memoir, Teaching Resources, Survivor Testimony

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Welcome to Facing Today, a Facing History blog. Facing History and Ourselves combats racism and antisemitism by using history to teach tolerance in classrooms around the globe.

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