Students across the country have already started working on their IWitness Challenge project sponsored by the USC Shoah Foundation – The Institute for Visual History and Education, but there’s still time for youngsters in your community to enter this free online program geared to all secondary-school students.
The deadline to enter the Challenge is Dec. 2, 2013. The winning student, along with their teacher and a family member will be brought to Los Angeles to showcase their work as part of the 20th anniversary activities for the Shoah Foundation, which was founded by director Steven Spielberg in 1994 after making “Schindler’s List.”
The IWitness Challenge (iwitness.usc.edu) connects students with the past in a very personal way that spurs them to take action to improve the future.
With access to many of the Shoah Foundation’s 52,000 testimonies of survivors, liberators and rescuers, students experience history in a way that hits home. Instead of reading facts from textbooks, students feel the emotions and build relationships with those who lived through seemingly impossible situations.
But students do more than watch the testimony. The IWitness Challenge compels them to think, to make smart choices and to create their own project and video from what they’ve learned. By encouraging teachers and students to create their own lesson plans, IWitness allows them to expand on practically any subject they wish to pursue. From civics, government and history to poetry, art and ethics, educators can tailor lessons appropriate for their classrooms.
And by using the embedded editor, participants not only learn valuable searching and editing skills, but also how to make ethical editing decisions that ensure their finished assignments are a fair and accurate reflection of what they’ve seen. All work is kept safe inside the IWitness site and not accessible to the public.
Using IWitness is free, but teachers or homeschool parents must register at iwitness.usc.edu.
Sharing the memories of survivors with future generations was already on Spielberg’s mind the night he accepted the best picture Academy Award for “Schindler’s List.”
“I implore all the educators who are watching this program to please do not allow the Holocaust to remain a footnote in history,” Spielberg said. “Please listen to the words, the echoes and the ghosts and please teach this in your schools.”
IWitness is designed to align with Common Core standards and the International Society for Technology in Education, among others. It was named as one of the “Top 25 Websites for Teaching and Learning” by the American Association of School Librarians in 2012.
“A major theme of ‘Schindler’s List’ is that one person can make the world a better place, “said Shoah Foundation Director of Education Dr. Kori Street. “The IWitness Challenge provides the tools to help students see how they can make their own contribution, as well as provide a framework for a lifetime of making a difference.
Housed at the University of Southern California, within the Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, the Institute works with partners around the world to advance scholarship and research, to provide resources and online tools for educators, and to disseminate the testimonies for educational purposes.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. My direct number is 213-740-6065.
Public Communications Manager
USC Shoah Foundation – The Institute for Visual History and Education
University of Southern California
650 West 35th Street, Suite 114
Office: 213-740-6065 Fax: 213-740-6044
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