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Memory and History PDF Version
Introduction Learning Activities Materials Bookmarks Standards
Portraits of Jewish Immigrants
(YIVO Institute for Jewish Research)
History, by collecting and interpreting various sources, seeks to establish and explain the events of the past. Each of us has our own personal history, and our communities define themselves within a context of communal history--the stories we tell about ourselves as communities and individuals. This lesson is designed help students explore the role that remembering plays, individually and collectively, in our understanding of the past. It explores the relationship between memory and history, the role of memory in shaping both individual and collective identity, the importance of rituals, and the impact on individuals and society when memories fade.

Students will engage in research, small-group discussions, whole class discussions, family interviews, and interaction with multimedia resource material. Assessments include class and group participation, individual journal reflections, family calendars or family history projects, and presentations.

This lesson is designed to give students an understanding of the role of memory in the creation of individual and collective history.

Students will:
1. uncover patterns and processes in their own thinking and deepen their understanding about the role that remembering plays, both individually and collectively, in our knowledge of the past and our academic study of history;
2. think critically about the credibility of historical interpretations and explore the complex relationship between memory and history;
3. examine the importance of rituals in creating and maintaining memory and develop and their own rituals in order to appreciate their personal and communal histories, as well as the role of community and society in shaping identity.

Subjects Covered:
World History, Historical Understanding, Behavioral Studies, Language Arts

Suggested Time Frame:
This entire Lesson Plan can be completed in approximately six to seven 45-minute sessions. Individual learning activities break down as follows:

Defining the Terms, Setting the Stage (1 session)
Possessing and Re-Possessing Life Stories (1- 2 sessions)
What Happens When a People's Way of Life (Ways of Marking Time and Events) Is Stripped Away? (2 sessions)
What Memories Do We Carry Forward and What Do We Leave Behind (1-2 sessions)

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