Teach Tolerance Using IWitness Testimony
It seems as if now, more than ever in my teaching career, I am searching for trusted resources to help my students cope with the hate that often surrounds them in the media, in their personal lives, and even in the classroom. How can we teach our students to be compassionate and tolerant of others when they don’t trust others to do the same for them? What resources can we effectively use to initiate a dialogue that will lead to more respectful discourse? Ultimately, how do we offer support as we encourage our students to move from an existence of passive indifference to a life of service that will, in turn, inspire others to take action?
USC Shoah Foundation offers educators such support through IWitness, an educational website that connects students with the testimonies of survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust and other genocides. These testimonies, several of which are also available in Discovery Education’s streaming services, chronicle the resistance, strength, and courage of survivors who have taken a stand against indifference.
When students engage with IWitness testimony, they realize that they too must show strength and courage as they speak out against the hate they encounter in their own communities. As students feel compelled to take action and begin to seek solutions to injustices they see around them, it is our responsibility as educators to direct them to resources that will aid them in bettering their communities.
Announcing the 2018 IWitness Video Challenge
The IWitness Video Challenge gives educators the perfect resource to educate and
inspire students to make a change. Created by USC Shoah Foundation in partnership with Discovery Education, the IWitness Video Challenge provides an actionable way to promote equality, challenge bias, discuss tolerance, and engage students in a service-learning project that inspires action.
In this contest, students will watch IWitness testimony, become inspired to identify a social problem in their community they’d like to solve, and then take action to address it. Students will document their work in a video essay, which will share their message with the world.
Empower students to make our world stronger than hate – and inspire their friends, school, and community to join them. This will no doubt be one of the most meaningful projects your class works on this year.
2018 IWitness Challenge FAQs
- Who can enter?
- The challenge is open to students in grades 5-12.
- What’s the deadline?
- The last day for students to complete their videos is April 13, 2018.
- Educators can nominate videos until April 23, 2018.
- What’s the prize?
- 1st place: $5,000 scholarship + $2,500 school grant + $1,000 teacher grant
- 2nd place: $1,000 scholarship
- 3rd place: $500 scholarship
Karen Wells is a National Board-Certified library media specialist and English teacher from the Midland Public School District in Arkansas. As a DEN STAR and member of the DE Leadership Council, she has attended Discovery regional and national events and DEN Summer Institutes. In 2015 she was selected to participate in the Auschwitz: The Past is Present initiative with twenty-five educators from around the globe. She then represented these educators in the Auschwitz: Past is Present Virtual Experience, “which enabled students to explore the rich history of Jewish life in Poland before the Holocaust, to visit authentic memorial sites, and to discuss the consequences of hatred and intolerance.” Most recently she was named a DE Program Champion whose focus is to inform educators worldwide about Discovery Education and USC Shoah. As a library media specialist, she has received the Media Specialist of the Year award, the Herb Lawrence Leadership Service award, and the Outstanding Media Program of the Year award.