Encountering Evil: Night

Students explore human nature through the memoir of Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor who vividly describes the horrors he experienced.

Unit Summary

Anne Frank and Elie Wiesel taught the world about the Holocaust. Their stories have profoundly changed the way that we understand one of the darkest moments in human history—and the way we understand our own present and future.

Students will begin this second unit of 8th grade by reading the Pulitzer Prize-winning stage adaptation of Anne Frank’s famous diary. The Diary of Anne Frank, written by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hacket (and then later revised in the 1990s by Wendy Kesselmen), tells the story of the two years that Anne spent in hiding with her family in a desperate attempt to avoid capture by the Nazis.

Students will then read Night, often considered among the most important memoirs of the 20th century. Written by Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel, the text recounts the author’s experience as a teenager in a Nazi concentration camp.

While both Eliezer and Anne’s stories speak to all readers, they are particularly evocative for young adults. Anne was thirteen when she entered the Secret Annex, and Wiesel was just sixteen when he and his family were transported to Auschwitz. Both texts center the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of a young person living through unimaginable circumstances. Through their stories, students will begin to make connections between individual lives, historical events, and larger truths about what it means to be human.

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Texts and Materials

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Core Materials

  • Play: The Diary of Anne Frank by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett (Random House; First Printing Edition, 1956)  

  • Book: Night by Elie Wiesel (Hill and Wang, 2006)    —  1000L

Supporting Materials

Assessment

This assessment accompanies Unit 2 and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.

Unit Prep

Essential Questions

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  • Are human beings really good at heart?
  • How do human beings respond when subjected to unthinkable horror?
  • Why is it important to tell and listen to stories about the Holocaust?

Enduring Understandings

  • People are capable of tremendous violence and evil; to be indifferent to the suffering of others is a kind of violence.
  • People can show remarkable generosity and kindness toward one another, even when it puts them at risk.
  • The Holocaust is one of the darkest chapters in human history. Fully understanding what happened during that time—through testimonies of those who lived through it—is a powerful way to prevent such tragedies from occurring again.

Vocabulary

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Text-based

annihilate anguish conflagration cynical delusion dehumanize indifference peril poignant surreal systematic untenable

Root/Affix

-logue mono-

To see all the vocabulary for this course, view our 8th Grade Vocabulary Glossary.

Notes for Teachers

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  • Night is an intense, deeply troubling text. Some of Wiesel’s descriptions of the atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis are graphic and may be upsetting to students. While The Diary of Anne Frank does not include graphic depictions of violence, students may have strong emotions in response to Anne’s ordeal. Additionally, both The Diary of Anne Frank and Night include brief discussions of sexuality.
  • We highly recommended that you send a letter home to parents explaining the content area that will be discussed in this unit.
  • Be mindful that your students may have very different levels of knowledge and experience around the history of the Holocaust and Judaism more generally. As always, establish expectations around respectful conversations, especially when discussing cultures or religions different from one’s own. Address stereotypes, bias, or prejudice directly.
  • There are many resources available to support teachers in talking with their students about the Holocaust and anti-Semitism. These are just a few:

Lesson Map

14

  • Night pp. 69 – 84

    RI.8.3

Explain how incidents in Night reveal aspects of characters.

20

Writing

    W.8.2

    L.8.1.b

Outline the stages of genocide.

21

Writing

    W.8.2

    L.8.1.b

Compile and evaluate research information into a digital presentation.

24

2 days

Assessment

Common Core Standards

Core Standards

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L.8.1

L.8.1.b

L.8.5

RI.8.2

RI.8.3

RI.8.4

RI.8.6

RL.8.3

RL.8.4

RL.8.5

SL.8.1

SL.8.1.a

W.8.1

W.8.1.a

W.8.1.b

W.8.1.c

W.8.1.d

W.8.1.e

W.8.2

Spiral Standards

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L.8.4

L.8.4.b

L.8.6

RI.8.1

RI.8.10

RI.8.5

RI.8.7

RL.8.1

RL.8.10

RL.8.2

SL.8.4

SL.8.5

W.8.10

W.8.2.a

W.8.2.b

W.8.2.c

W.8.2.d

W.8.2.e

W.8.2.f

W.8.5

W.8.6

W.8.7

W.8.8

W.8.9

W.8.9.a