Prior to the start of the unit, I feel it will be vital for the students to build up background as to how exactly the events of a genocide unfold. Through the process of building up a key understanding of how genocides occur, students will be able to navigate the complex content with a better understanding. In order to accomplish this and gain an understanding of where exactly the students’ understanding of genocide lies, the teacher will first brainstorm with the class what they already know about genocide. Following this brief brainstorming session, the teacher will then place the students into small groups. Each of these groups will be provided a blank map and asked to circle which countries they believe had acts of genocide take place within their borders. The students will then present their maps to the class, followed by a discussion on why students chose the countries they did. Following this brief lesson, the teacher will then focus on explaining to the students how maps can help us better understand the material. During this particular section of the lesson, it will be important for the teacher to highlight to the students that maps do not only serve a practical purpose that we have all been taught within our traditional geography classes. Rather maps can also serve a wider purpose that can highlight emotions and states of mind. It would be prudent of the teacher to ask students if they feel as though a person’s feelings could be mapped out, and extend the class discussion based on this particular question.
Following this preliminary discussion, the first step in creating a foundational understanding of how a genocide takes place is to examine the ten stages that have been created by Genocide Watch. The ten stages of genocide are classification, symbolization, discrimination, dehumanization, organization, polarization, preparation, persecution, extermination, and denial. The students will be taught these ten stages of Genocide created by Dr. Gregory H. Stanton as a way to gain a deeper understanding of the mindset that people take on when committing atrocities, as well as gaining an enriched understanding that will serve students with the background knowledge needed when completing the various map activities and questions that will be asked of them. The following link provided will allow for the teacher to explore the Genocide Watch website https://www.genocidewatch.com/tenstages.
Prior to the start of the next section of the background lesson, the teacher should take a small section of class time to have a discussion about map literacy and the process one takes when reading a map. One question the teacher may want to ask the students to think about could be how do visual representations of events play a role in telling a story? During this discussion, the teacher should also be sure to focus on the functionality of maps, various types of maps, and various ways one can read a map. Once students have been taught the ten stages of genocide and map literacy, students will be able to observe an interactive map on Genocide Watch’s website. The goal of this lesson will be to have the students examine various events that have taken place and that are currently taking place within the world. As the students are examining the website, they will want to generate one to two questions on their own about the map they have just examined and genocide. The students’ questions will be posted within the classroom and be addressed by the teacher at various points throughout the course of the curriculum unit.
The final portion of the background lesson will be a map-based activity: the goal for this activity will be for the students to draw a map of a village or town on a blank sheet of paper. The purpose of this map will be for students to think about what a town or village might have looked like prior to a genocide taking place there and visually represent it. The students will need to include various shops and daily life activities that might have taken place within that town/village. The student-generated maps will also need to depict people engaging in their daily lives. For those students who may be struggling with the creation of their maps, the teacher will be able to include examples or visuals that may help the students engage in creating their initial maps. Once students have created their initial maps, they will pair up into small groups and be able to share them with their fellow students and discuss the maps that they have created. During the group discussion, students will be able to make any additions they feel are important to their maps. After the students have completed their maps, they will be collected and stored by the teacher until the end of the curriculum unit.