Students explore human nature through the memoir of Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor who vividly describes the horrors he experienced.
Night is one of the most significant memoirs of the 20th century. Written by Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel, the text recounts the author’s experience in a Nazi concentration camp.
Although his story is universally accessible, Wiesel’s memoir is particularly evocative for younger readers: he was just sixteen years old when he and his family were transported to Auschwitz, just sixteen when he saw his mother and sister for the final time, just sixteen when he watched his father die. Although the memoir is narrated in the voice of an adult Wiesel, the text centers on the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of a young person in otherwise unimaginable circumstances.
Night is a short but powerful memoir. Because Wiesel’s writing is perhaps sparer than other texts students have encountered, they will need to pay close attention to the words that he does choose. What is written between the lines? How does Wiesel create such a powerful and wrenching emotional world for the reader in such a short text?
While Night is the heart of this unit, students will engage with several nonfiction texts that provide context for the Holocaust. These texts include videos describing other young people’s experiences and interviews with Holocaust survivors.
In this unit, students will continue to practice their analytical thinking and writing skills, and begin to develop their ability to conduct independent research. In the first task, students will reinforce their ability to write strong claim statements and gather appropriate evidence to support those claims (W.8.1.A; W.8.1.B). This provides teachers with an opportunity to give students in-depth feedback on their evidence selection and analysis (likely more than is possible when grading daily target tasks!). Additionally, students will begin to think about the impact of tone on their writing, and make tweaks to their essays in order to establish and maintain a formal, academic tone (W.8.1.E). In the culminating writing task of the unit, students will work in small groups to create a powerpoint presentation about violence, persecution, and genocide taking place today (W.8.6; SL.8.5). This requires a number of new skills, including determining the credibility of sources, appropriate citation (W.8.8), as well as presenting information to an audience in a way that is clear and effective (SL.8.4). Students will also have to navigate group dynamics to create a high quality final product that reflects the work of all members.
Book: Night by Elie Wiesel (Hill and Wang, 2006) — 1000L
See Text Selection Rationale
It is essential that teachers come into this module with enough schema to fill in any blanks that students may have that will interfere with their understanding of the text. These are some of the most significant concepts students will need to understand:
This assessment accompanies Unit 2 and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.
“Step by Step”
Explain how and why the author uses chronology and cause/effect relationships to present information about the Holocaust.
“I'm Still Here” — 00:10–06:00
Night — Preface pp. vii–xv
Analyze Elie Wiesel’s purpose for writing Night based on the preface of the text.
Night pp. 3 – 11
Use specific lines and events from the text Night to draw conclusions about characters.
Night pp. 11 – 22
Explain why Wiesel uses specific words, phrases, and punctuation in his writing, and the impact of these choices on the reader.
Night pp. 23 – 28
Draw conclusions about the passengers in the cattle car—and human nature more generally— based on the incident with Mrs. Schächter.
Night pp. 29 – 36 — (stop at the page break)
Determine developing themes in Night by analyzing Wiesel’s thought and feelings upon his arrival at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Night pp. 36 – 46
Explain how events in Night reveal how Wiesel has—and has not—changed since arriving at Auschwitz.
Literary Analysis Writing
Night pp. 1 – 57
Gather evidence in order to craft strong a thesis statement.
Literary Analysis Writing
Night pp. 1 – 57
Draft strong concluding statements and revise writing to ensure establishment of a formal tone.
Night pp. 47 – 57 — (to the page break)
Identify themes in Night based on the behavior of characters in the text and support those themes with specific textual evidence.
Night pp. 57 – 65
Explain why Wiesel uses specific words and phrases and the impact of these choices on meaning in the text and on the reader.
Determine how Wiesel develops central ideas in his speech “The Perils of Indifference.”
Night pp. 66 – 84
Explain how incidents in Night reveal changes in characters and lead to significant decisions.
Night pp. 85 – 97
Explain how Wiesel develops mood, tone, and meaning in Night.
Night pp. 98 – 112
Explain how specific lines of text and incidents in Night reveal aspects of Wiesel’s character as well as more general truths about human nature.
Night pp. 113 – 115
Determine themes in Night and trace how Wiesel has developed these over the course of the text.
Night pp. 117 – 120 — Elie Wiesel’s Nobel Prize Speech
Determine Wiesel’s purpose, point of view, and central message in his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech.
Socratic Seminar Guide
Take a clear position on questions and support those positions with appropriate textual evidence and thoughtful analysis.
Differentiate between credible and non-credible sources while beginning research.
Create a PowerPoint presentation and appropriately cite sources.
Logically organize the information in presentations and include all required components.
Present PowerPoints using appropriate volume, eye contact, emphasis, and pronunciation.