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Lesson Plan

Life is Beautiful: Teaching the Holocaust through Film with Complementary Texts

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Life is Beautiful: Teaching the Holocaust through Film with Complementary Texts

Grades 10 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Five 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Patrick Striegel

Patrick Striegel

Tolono, Illinois


National Council of Teachers of English



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From Theory to Practice



After students have read a book about the Holocaust, such as The Diary of Anne Frank or Night by Elie Wiesel, students will view Life is Beautiful and complete discussion questions that challenge their ability to analyze literature using film.  When the film is complete, students will write a letter to the director conveying their opinion of the film.

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  • Letter Generator: Students use this interactive to write letters to the director of the film they view in this lesson.
  • Exit Slips: This strategy/tool is one of the many ways that the teacher can check for students' understanding in this lesson.

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In Reading in the Dark: Using Film as a Tool in the English Classroom, John Golden writes, "[W]e know, or strongly suspect, that the skills [students] use to decode the visual image are the same skills they use for a written text, and our goal, therefore, is to use that immediate interest in and uncanny ability with film and make it work for us" (xiii).  In this lesson, an entire film is used to support a complimentary text that has the same themes.

Using a high-interest and entertaining film, it will allow the students to engage in the post reading activity and further support the skills that they would use if using only the print text. There are many benefits to teaching an entire film with corresponding texts.  The film can introduce students to film technique, narrative structure, and allow them to examine a variety of genres.  Furthermore, young adults tend to be visually oriented in these contemporary times.  Teaching an entire film to a class has sometimes been looked down upon as a waste of time or inefficient.  However, if done correctly, teaching an entire film can offer students an opportunity to learn about prediction, characterization, themes and setting.

Further Reading

Golden, John. 2001. Reading in the Dark: Using Film as a Tool in the English Classroom. Urbana, IL: NCTE.

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