Teaching Night by Elie Wiesel
Click HERE for the full novel study lesson on Teachers Pay Teachers. Night, written by Elie Wiesel, is a poignant memoir of survival during the Holocaust. It is an incredibly powerful book that can be used to teach about the horrors of the Holocaust, as well as resilience and hope. Night highlights how Elie Wiesel loses faith in what used to be his religion and his life. He used to pray nightly and learn from his mentor, Moshe the Beadle. He even cried when he prayed because it simply was his way of life. After being placed in the ghetto, Elie was sent to Auschwitz concentration camp. He was beaten, dehumanized, tattooed, stripped, lost his sisters and eventually lost his father. It is not surprising that in addition to all of this he lost his faith. These are sensitive topics to teach in the classroom but very crucial for our future. This blog post will discuss how to effectively teach this text in the classroom.
Setting the Tone
When teaching Night it’s important to create a safe and open classroom environment where your students feel comfortable discussing the novel and their feelings associated with it. Before beginning, it may be beneficial to ask your students what they already know about the Holocaust or show them a short video clip from a documentary so that they are familiar with some of the events discussed in Night. This helps set the tone for discussions and provides context for understanding the narrative. Before teaching your class about Night, it’s essential that you familiarize yourself with the text and develop clear objectives for your lesson plan. You should also consider any potential obstacles that may arise during class discussion, such as students feeling overwhelmed or uncomfortable discussing certain topics. Preparing yourself mentally and professionally will help you respond appropriately
Discussing the Text
When teaching Night, create a safe space for open discussion without judgement or criticism. Encourage students to ask questions and voice their thoughts without fear of being judged by their peers or teacher. This space allows your students to explore ideas in a comfortable setting and hopefully spark meaningful conversations among them. As you discuss the themes of injustice and suffering from Wiesel’s perspective, emphasize that these are not just abstract concepts but something that people have endured throughout history, even today in some parts of the world.
Connecting with Students
In addition to discussing the text itself with your students, connect with them on a personal level by discussing your own experiences reading and learning about Night. This can help make your students feel more comfortable participating in class discussions as they get to know you better as a person instead of simply an authority figure imparting knowledge onto them. Furthermore, sharing personal stories helps enhance the connection between teacher and student which is incredibly important when teaching difficult material like this book entails.
Click HERE for the Digital Course Above
Discussion is key when teaching Night. Ask your students questions throughout reading that help them think critically about what they have read and connect it to larger themes such as identity, suffering, faith, etc. Encourage small group discussion after each chapter or section so that your students can share their thoughts with one another and explore different perspectives on these topics. Discussions such as these can help foster empathy and understanding in your students while also building community within your classroom.
In addition to discussion there are several writing assignments you can assign that will help your students think more deeply about the text. For example, you could have them write a diary entry from Elie’s perspective after each chapter or section of reading or have them write an essay comparing their own life experiences to those of Elie’s in Night. Creative writing assignments such as these will allow your students to engage with Night on a deeper level while also helping them develop their writing skills.
Night is an incredibly powerful book that has many valuable lessons for readers of all ages. When teaching this text, it’s important to create a safe environment where students feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and engaging with one another in meaningful dialogue. There are also many creative writing assignments you can assign that will help deepen your student’s understanding of Elie’s experiences while also developing their writing skills. Ultimately, when done right, teaching Night can be an incredible learning experience for both you and your students alike!