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HistoryFix: How can we say "Never Again"? A history lesson about genocide.

A Writing Across the Curriculum Lesson from HistoryFix
Historical Topic: Genocide Students Write: a persuasive poster campaign

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How Can We Say,
"Never Again"?

This writing across the curriculum lesson was proposed by Nevada teacher Vallarie Larson during a Writing Across the Curriculum workshop sponsored by the NNWP.

Vallarie considers this history lesson to be appropriate for students in grades 6-12.

Lesson Overview:

Objectives/Overview: This lesson focuses on this Essential Question, “After WWII, it was said that never again shall we--the international community--allow an act of genocide to occur in the world. What events in the world today would prove this statement false?” Students will look at the current situation in Darfur and, utilizing persuasive writing techniques, create a persuasive poster campaign either about Darfur or another international situation that has occurred since WWII.

Time Needed: This lesson will take between two and four class periods.

Writing skills (traits) to stress while teaching this lesson:

  • Idea Development (putting researched ideas into one’s own words)
  • Organization (using a strong "hook" or lead to begin writing)
  • Voice (conveying passion towards the message of the writing or the topic; persuasive writing techniques)

Materials List:


Background Information:


  • For background information, Vallarie suggests teachers watch this informative You-Tube video. This 10-minute video clip can be viewed by you, or dependant upon the level of your students, you may wish for the students to view this clip too. This clip gives a fairly thorough, succinct explanation of the complicated situation in Darfur. If you choose to only show the clip that is only set to music, give your students a more thorough explanation of the situation in Darfur as needed to further their understanding. Many students will want to know more, and the second clip will give more information to fulfill the need for knowledge.

Teacher Instructions:

  • Students will need a prior understanding of the Holocaust and vocabulary such as the word Genocide. Post the essential question, “After WWII, it was said that never again shall we, the international community, allow an act of genocide to occur in the world. What events in the world today would prove this statement false? Have a short discussion about the essential question.

  • View this video clip. This will serve as a “hook” to activate student learning about the current genocide situation in Darfur. The video clip will be of high interest as it is set to music the students will enjoy. It gives a little information on the situation.

  • Now that students have an interest in the situation in Darfur, have students discuss, using accountable talk format or another preferred discussion format, the essential question, “After WWII, it was said that never again shall we, the international community, allow an act of genocide to occur in the world. What events in the world today would prove this statement false?” The video clip should guide them to a discussion.

  • Discuss with students possible solutions to the situation in Darfur. Students should choose a position about the situation in Darfur, what do they feel needs to be done? Depending on your student understanding, you may have to explain each of these positions further. Possible positions may include:

    • Continued private supporters to various aid organizations (helping the people, but not addressing the current violence)

    • U.S. government involvement which may include military involvement

    • United Nations involvement, (Many countries sending troops to stop the violence)

    • Boycotts

    • Bring awareness to the situation by joining a campaign, writing Congress, writing world leaders

    • Other positions

  • Show examples of persuasive posters. Some posters can be found at I showed students non-smoking posters, political posters and posters from various organizations. Discuss the persuasive writing techniques from each poster you show. Have students actively look for persuasive techniques they might use on their own posters about genocide. Below are links to some specific poster examples:

  • Discuss these seven techniques of "writing hooks." Explain that persuasive writing often opens with a “hook”. Students posters, which must take a position, should contain a hook.

  • Choose ten persuasive techniques (click here for 19 options) to teach your students. Have them take notes on these techniques, using this Notes on Persuasive Techniques organizer.

  • After you have taught the “hook” and the persuasive writing techniques, have students identify these techniques in examples. Use the following graphic organizer to have students record characteristics of each technique. You may then show examples of various techniques as a class, or have students in partnerships use the graphic organizer notes that they have recorded to sort through some examples and discern which examples show which technique. Point out the word choice on the posters. Words should show, not just tell. Continue with the process until you feel students understand techniques that they may use in their posters.

  • Now that students have an understanding of persuasive writing techniques, it’s time for them to take a position on Darfur and create a persuasive poster. First, students must choose a position. Have them brainstorm using the worksheet. The worksheet should help them clearly choose a position, choose persuasive techniques to use in their poster, think about word choice and sketch out their idea. Students then edit their ideas as necessary. Students can then create their posters.


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