“For the past two years, my eighth grade English class has used Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer-Prize-winning graphic-novel, MAUS, as our primary text to study the Holocaust. My students enjoy the fascinating imagery, the break from traditional textbooks, and Vladek Spiegelman’s captivating experience in Nazi concentration camps. While they enjoy the unit, it can be challenging for students to connect the story with the grave reality of the Holocaust. This fellowship would allow me to ground the story in reality through the authority of my own experience and by creating short video journals which document the places described in the book.”
So began Nick Dykert’s FFT grant proposal — a desire to combine the Holocaust, YouTube and what The Washington Post deems “the greatest graphic novel ever written” into meaningful, relevant learning for students in his English class at James Monroe Elementary in Chicago. He spent two weeks retracing the steps of Holocaust survivor Vladek Spiegelman (aka MAUS) through Sweden, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Germany as described in the graphic novel.
“It was amazing to stand in the places that I talk about during my WWII unit. I can speak with greater authority and use the many videos I shot to engage my students,” said Nick. “In our current political atmosphere, it is so important to be able to empathize, slow down, and consider one another’s perspectives. Relating my firsthand experience and showing my videos brings my students one step closer to doing that.”
According to Nick, students are simultaneously loving the “vlog” and poking fun at him. “They think it’s funny to subscribe to their teacher on YouTube.”
WE think Nick’s videos, discussion questions and resources are remarkable. See if you agree.