How Can You Teach Genocide When You Haven’t Seen the Movie?

As a break between the APWH exam and the Global History and Geography Regents exam in June I am experimenting with a Choices unit on genocide. I need to find the right balance between the Choices lesson structure and my usual class cycle, which this year felt way too textbook driven. That said, absent a lot of lesson planning and editing, the Choices lessons feel geared toward schools where teachers can expect students to spend hours outside of class preparing with parents leaning over the kitchen table helping them through the long readings.

The genocide unit has been a huge hit in class. My students are spending A LOT of time outside of class on the topic and asking me tons of questions; including “Have you seen Hotel Rwanda?”. I, mistakenly, was honest and admitted, “no, I have not seen the movie.” L, totally sincerely, responded promptly, “How can you teach genocide when you haven’t seen the movie?” A good point and I doubt my usual dismissive “I’ve read the book” would have impressed her.

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