Encountering Evil: Night

Students explore human nature through the memoir of Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor who vividly describes the horrors he experienced.

Unit Summary

Anne Frank and Elie Wiesel taught the world about the Holocaust. Their stories have profoundly changed the way that we understand one of the darkest moments in human history—and the way we understand our own present and future.

Students will begin this second unit of 8th grade by reading the Pulitzer Prize-winning stage adaptation of Anne Frank’s famous diary. The Diary of Anne Frank, written by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hacket (and then later revised in the 1990s by Wendy Kesselmen), tells the story of the two years that Anne spent in hiding with her family in a desperate attempt to avoid capture by the Nazis.

Students will then read Night, often considered among the most important memoirs of the 20th century. Written by Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel, the text recounts the author’s experience as a teenager in a Nazi concentration camp.

While both Eliezer and Anne’s stories speak to all readers, they are particularly evocative for young adults. Anne was thirteen when she entered the Secret Annex, and Wiesel was just sixteen when he and his family were transported to Auschwitz. Both texts center the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of a young person living through unimaginable circumstances. Through their stories, students will begin to make connections between individual lives, historical events, and larger truths about what it means to be human.

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Texts and Materials

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Core Materials

  • Play: The Diary of Anne Frank by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hacket (Random House; First Printing Edition, 1956)  

  • Book: Night by Elie Wiesel (Hill and Wang, 2006)    —  1000L

Supporting Materials

Assessment

This assessment accompanies Unit 2 and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.

Unit Prep

Fishtank ELA Connections

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Previous Fishtank ELA Connections

Future Fishtank ELA Connections

  • Grade 8 English Unit 3: Animal Farm
  • Grade 8 English Unit 4: Persepolis

Essential Questions

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  • Are human beings really good at heart?
  • How do human beings respond when subjected to unthinkable horror?
  • Why is it important to tell and listen to stories about the Holocaust?

Reading Enduring Understandings

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  • People are capable of tremendous violence and evil; to be indifferent to the suffering of others is a kind of violence.
  • People can show remarkable generosity and kindness toward one another, even when it puts them at risk.
  • The Holocaust is one of the darkest chapters in human history. Fully understanding what happened during that time—through testimonies of those who lived through it—is a powerful way to prevent such tragedies from occurring again.

Vocabulary

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Text-based

annihilate anguish conflagration cynical delusion dehumanize indifference peril poignant surreal systematic untenable

Root/Affix

-logue mono-

Related Teacher Tools:

Notes for Teachers

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  • Night is an intense, deeply troubling text. Some of Wiesel’s descriptions of the atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis are graphic and may be upsetting to students. While The Diary of Anne Frank does not include graphic depictions of violence, students may have strong emotions in response to Anne’s ordeal. Additionally, both The Diary of Anne Frank and Night include brief discussions of sexuality.
  • We highly recommended that you send a letter home to parents explaining the content area that will be discussed in this unit.
  • Be mindful that your students may have very different levels of knowledge and experience around the history of the Holocaust and Judaism more generally. As always, establish expectations around respectful conversations, especially when discussing cultures or religions different from one’s own. Address stereotypes, bias, or prejudice directly.
  • There are many resources available to support teachers in talking with their students about the Holocaust and anti-Semitism. These are just a few:

Lesson Map

1

  • “The Path to Nazi Genocide”

    RI.8.3

Explain the events, ideas, and individuals that created the conditions that led to the Holocaust.

2

  • The Diary of Anne Frank pp. 9 – 15 — end after “ANNE. Look. It left a mark.”

  • “The Short Life of Anne Frank” — 1:48-13:15

    RL.8.3

Explain who Anne Frank was as an historical figure, and how the playwrights develop the reader’s understanding of Anne as a character in The Diary of Anne Frank.

3

  • The Diary of Anne Frank pp. 15 – 26 — (from “ANNE: Do you know Hanneli Goslar?”) to (end at “ANNE:... and, by all accounts, an excellent dentist”)

    RL.8.3

Identify specific incidents and lines of text that reveal aspects of character dynamics in The Diary of Anne Frank.

4

  • The Diary of Anne Frank pp. 26 – 39 — (Start at “A delighted low laugh”)

  • Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl — 19 & 20 November, 1942

    RL.8.5

Explain how text features and structures specific to dramatic works develop the reader’s understanding of characters and plot in The Diary of Anne Frank.

5

  • The Diary of Anne Frank pp. 40 – 53

    RL.8.3

Explain how specific events and lines of text reveal aspects of characters and character relationships.

6

  • The Diary of Anne Frank pp. 53 – 61

    RL.8.4

    L.8.5

Explain how the playwrights use specific words and phrases to develop mood, tone, and meaning in The Diary of Anne Frank.

7

  • Night pp. 3 – 11 — end after “Then came the ghettos”

    RI.8.3

Explain how events in Night reveal aspects of characters and suggest larger truths about human nature.

8

  • Night pp. 11 – 22

    RI.8.4

    L.8.5

Explain why Wiesel uses specific words, phrases, and punctuation in his writing, and the impact of these choices on the reader.

Identify and explain the meaning of symbols and other motifs in Night.

9

  • Night pp. 23 – 34 — end at “Do you remember Mrs. Schäcter, in the train?”

    RI.8.3

Draw conclusions about the passengers in the cattle car—and human nature more generally—based on the incident with Mrs. Schäcter.

10

  • Night pp. 34 – 47

    RI.8.3

Explain how the prisoners in Auschwitz-Birkenau were systematically dehumanized and stripped of their identities, and the impact on Eliezer.

11

  • Night pp. 47 – 58 — from page break to page break

    RI.8.3

Explain how being in Auschwitz impacts characters, and what characters’ behavior reveals about human nature.

12

  • Night pp. 58 – 65

    RI.8.4

Explain how specific words and phrases develop meaning in Night, and how they affect the reader.

13

Writing

  • Night

    W.8.1

    W.8.1.a

    W.8.1.b

    W.8.1.c

    W.8.1.d

    W.8.1.e

Perform a close reading of the text using inference and evidence.

14

  • Night pp. 69 – 84

    RI.8.3

Explain how incidents in Night reveal aspects of characters.

15

  • Night pp. 85 – 97

    RI.8.4

    L.8.5

Explain how Wiesel uses figurative language and specific word choice to develop mood and meaning in Night.

16

  • Night pp. 98 – 115

    RI.8.3

Explain how specific incidents in Night reveal aspects of characters, as well as larger truths about human nature.

17

  • Night — pp. vii-x (end at “it is still not right”); xiv-xv

    RI.8.6

Analyze the preface to Night to determine Wiesel’s purpose for writing.

18

  • “The Perils...” — (Focus on paragraphs 6-18)

    RI.8.2

Explain how Wiesel develops central ideas in his speech, “The Perils of Indifference.”

19

Discussion

  • The Diary of Anne Frank

  • Night

    SL.8.1

    SL.8.1.a

Take a clear position on questions and support those positions with appropriate textual evidence and thoughtful analysis.

20

Writing

    W.8.2

Outline the stages of genocide.

21

Writing

    W.8.2

Compile and evaluate research information into a digital presentation.

22

Writing

    W.8.2

Logically organize the information in their presentations and include all required components.

23

Writing

    W.8.2

Present digital presentations using appropriate volume, eye contact, emphasis, and pronunciation.

24

2 days

Assessment

Common Core Standards

Language Standards
  • L.8.5 — Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.

Reading Standards for Informational Text
  • RI.8.2 — Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to supporting ideas; provide an objective summary of the text.

  • RI.8.3 — Analyze how a text makes connections among and distinctions between individuals, ideas, or events (e.g., through comparisons, analogies, or categories).

  • RI.8.4 — Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to other texts.

  • RI.8.6 — Determine an author's point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how the author acknowledges and responds to conflicting evidence or viewpoints.

Reading Standards for Literature
  • RL.8.3 — Analyze how particular lines of dialogue or incidents in a story or drama propel the action, reveal aspects of a character, or provoke a decision.

  • RL.8.4 — Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to other texts.

  • RL.8.5 — Compare and contrast the structure of two or more texts and analyze how the differing structure of each text contributes to its meaning and style.

Speaking and Listening Standards
  • SL.8.1 — Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 8 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

  • SL.8.1.a — Come to discussions prepared, having read or researched material under study; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence on the topic, text, or issue to probe and reflect on ideas under discussion.

Writing Standards
  • W.8.1 — Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.

  • W.8.1.a — Introduce claim(s), acknowledge and distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and organize the reasons and evidence logically.

  • W.8.1.b — Support claim(s) with logical reasoning and relevant evidence, using accurate, credible sources and demonstrating an understanding of the topic or text.

  • W.8.1.c — Use words, phrases, and clauses to create cohesion and clarify the relationships among claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence.

  • W.8.1.d — Establish and maintain a formal style.

  • W.8.1.e — Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the argument presented.

  • W.8.2 — Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content

  • W.8.2.a — Introduce a topic clearly, previewing what is to follow; organize ideas, concepts, and information into broader categories; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., charts, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.

  • W.8.2.b — Develop the topic with relevant, well-chosen facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples.

  • W.8.2.c — Use appropriate and varied transitions to create cohesion and clarify the relationships among ideas and concepts.

  • W.8.2.d — Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic.

  • W.8.2.e — Establish and maintain a formal style.

  • W.8.2.f — Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the information or explanation presented

Spiral Standards

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L.8.4.b

L.8.6

RI.8.1

RI.8.10

RI.8.5

RI.8.7

RL.8.1

RL.8.10

RL.8.2

SL.8.1

SL.8.4

SL.8.5

W.8.10

W.8.2.a

W.8.2.b

W.8.2.c

W.8.2.d

W.8.2.e

W.8.2.f

W.8.5

W.8.6

W.8.7

W.8.8

W.8.9

W.8.9.a