Lesson Plan: Genocide: Not Just Events in the Past

Written By: Karen Komulainen
Grade Level: 11-12

Time Allotment

One 75-minute class period


This will be the opening class session for a brand new class that I will be teaching in the Fall Semester, 2015. The goal of this lesson is to introduce students to the concept of genocide through brainstorming, discussion, reading and visual media. At the end of the class period students should understand that genocides are not just tragedies that occurred in the past, but they are events that are still occurring in various parts of the world today. GenocideNotJustEventsinthePast.docx

Subject Matter


Learning Objectives

Students will be able to identify several genocides in history and in recent times. Students will be able to understand America’s role in intervening in genocides.

Media Components - Video/Web

  • “Clinton: Genocide in Yugoslavia” video found at http://tpt.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/amex24.socst.ush.yugoslavia/clinton-genocide-in-yugoslavia-essay/
  • “Clinton: Crises in Somalia and Rwanda” video found at http://tpt.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/amex24.socst.ush.somalia/clinton-crises-in-somalia-and-rwanda/
  • “Human Beings and Mass Slaughter” from the book Worse Than War: Genocide, Eliminationism, and the Ongoing Assault on Humanity by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen found at http://www.pbs.org/wnet/worse-than-war/stories-essays/understanding
  • Main entrance gate at Auschwitz photo found at http://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/the-holocaust/pictures/holocaust-concentration-camps/poland-auschwitz-birkenau-death-camp
  • Materials

    Laptop, Smart Board, Projector, Sound System-1 per class

    Teacher Preparation

    1. Bookmark the four web pages listed in the ‘Digital Media Components’ section above prior to the start of class.
    2. Write the following questions on the whiteboard: What is genocide? How many genocides in history can you & your table partner name? Should the U.S. intervene when another nation is committing genocide? Do genocides still occur today?
    3. Have the ‘Main entrance gate at Auschwitz’ photo on the Smart Board upon students’ arrival to class.

    Introductory Activities

    1. Instruct students to view the photo of Auschwitz’ main entrance, if they have not already done so.
    2. Ask students what the picture is showing. (a few will know, most will not) Review the process of the Holocaust along with the death camp statistics. **All students learned about the Holocaust in the Spring, 2015 semester of American History.
    3. With their table partner, have students discuss and record their answers to the four questions that are written on the whiteboard.

    Learning Activities

    1. Discuss students’ responses to the four questions as a class.
    2. The teacher should then put the “Human Beings and Mass Slaughter” article up on the Smartboard for reading as a whole class. Follow this with open discussion.
    3. Hand out the ‘Video Discussion Questions.’ Review them with the students so they know what they are to be listening for as they view the two video clips.
    4. Show the video clip “Clinton: Genocide in Yugoslavia” first.
    5. Then show the video clip “Clinton: Crises in Somalia & Rwanda.”
    6. Give the class a few minutes for a question and answer session.
    7. Instruct students to respond to the questions on the ‘Video Discussion Questions’ handout. These are due upon entrance to class tomorrow.