by George J Elbaum
Sebastian Questa Elementary is a public elementary school K-8 with current enrollment of 843 students of very high diversity: 43% Asian, 16% White, 14% Hispanic, 11% Filipino, 7% Black, and 9% all other. The school’s academic performance is also very high, earning GreatSchools.org ratings of 9 (out of 10) for test scores: English 73% vs. 47% State Average, Math 67% vs. 33%, and Science 53% vs.29%. Also high is the students’ participation in advanced courses (algebra) of 25% vs. <1% State Average.
My presentation was to 100 students in 8th grade English and History organized by ELA teacher Shannon Reed. In preparation for the Holocaust study the students first completed a background project on Hitler and the progression of events leading to WWII. Then they did a comparative lesson on The Diary of Anne Frank play and her actual journal through the book. This was followed by a review of The Butterfly Project and research on the Nazi concentration camps. The students’ extensive reading was organized in a very efficient and effective way: the whole class read The Diary of Anne Frank and, in addition, they were organized into 7 groups with each group reading one of the following 7 books: Anne Frank: Beyond the Diary, Between Shades of Grey, Grenade, Prisoner B3087, The Boy on the Wooden Box, The Book Thief and The War Outside. Then each of the 7 group would make an oral presentation of the book they had read to the rest of the class. In addition, they reviewed the films Genocide and Anne Frank: Parallel Lives.
In addition to Shannon Reed, the presentation was also attended by Principal George Vierra, Vice Principal Kimberly Clegg, and 8th grade teachers Louis Rivera and Erin Healy. My talk was arranged by Sadie Simon, Education Program Manager, JFCS Holocaust Center, who introduced me and ably managed my PowerPoint.