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The Final Unit of Study

My students are embarking on their final unit of study of the school year. We’re doing research-based essays, which I’m attempting to tie-into the “This I Believe” Style. I have my teaching points and some of my charts (well, the ones for this week at least!) ready-to-go, but I’m still trying to write my own research-based essay, which springs from the work we’ve done during the most recent Interactive Read Alouds, which were focused on voice and silence.

I crafted a reasonably strong thesis statement (see the chart) and am now in the process of trying to prove my thesis statement with a variety of supports:


I realized that Rome wasn’t built in a day and an essay that I want to use as a mentor with my students cannot be written hastily. However, I’m starting to realize that this assignment is tough. However, this realization is important since going through the process (yourself) prior to teaching students how to create what you want them to create is what makes teaching stronger. Now that I know what’s tough for me (i.e., finding a variety of evidence to prove my thesis statement without sounding redundant — hence the reason I stopped after the second paragraph), I can trouble-shoot so that my students don’t run into the same problem once I get them to this point in the writing process.

And with that, I give you the first two paragraphs of my draft:

The Holocaust was a dark time in this world’s history. Hatred and racial intolerance permeated throughout the cities, towns, and countryside of Europe. 12,000,000 people who were different were murdered during the Holocaust; 6,000,000 of those people were Jews. The number of Jews who could have been killed during this time would have been significantly higher were it not for the efforts of courageous men and women, or Righteous Gentiles, who stepped forward to help their Jewish neighbors. People who helped Jews by hiding them in their homes or ferrying them to safety during the Holocaust took great risks for themselves. However, their selflessness is what helped numerous Jews survive. I believe in the saying “Whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world,” because every single human life is precious.

In literature, we read examples of heroism where Righteous Gentiles opened their homes to Jewish children who were at-risk for being captured by the Nazis because they were Jewish. In historical fiction stories like The Butterfly and Number the Stars, we learn of fictional characters, based on real-life people, who hid Jewish children in their homes, later ferrying them to safety. Additionally, there were many families in England, as described in the book Kindertransport, who took in Jewish children who were transported to England from Germany so that they could be safe from the horrors of war that were taking place in their country. Approximately 10,000 German-Jewish children were saved due to the Kindertransport to England. The people who took in each Jewish child usually didn’t know the child, or the family. However, each person who took in a child did it because I think they, too, thought that to save just one life was as if to save the entire world.

Stacey Shubitz View All

Literacy Consultant. Author. Former 4th and 5th Grade Classroom Teacher.

5 thoughts on “The Final Unit of Study Leave a comment

  1. stacey,
    what powerful writing. i can’t wait to read the rest! i, too, am drawn to studying, reflecting, and understanding the resitors during the holocaust. keep writing, you have a powerful start.
    thanks for sharing,


  2. Amy: I’m providing author’s notes from books we’ve read, age-appropriate videos from survivors, printouts from age-appropriate websites, etc.

    Stay-tuned about the thesis creation/topic selection. I’ll let you know how it goes after the kids do it tomorrow.


  3. Can you give me more information about this? I taught research this year, and was not please with it. I love “This I Believe” and I’d love to incorporate it into research. How are you having students select a topic? What sources are you providing?

    This sounds great—looking forward to hearing more.


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