Making It Visual for ELL Students: Teaching History Using Maus

This unit for secondary emergent bilingual students (easily adaptable for reluctant readers) is designed to develop students’ confidence and sense of autonomy in reading through the intellectually substantive graphic novel Maus. Maus deals with the traumatic history and enduring legacy of the Holocaust through multiple narratives of a father, mother and son. Ongoing lesson activities involving vocabulary study and reading strategies support students’ comprehension of the novel. Since Maus is the story of a son telling his father’s story, students make personal connections to the text as they interview a family member and retell a story about that person’s past. Students use websites listed in the lesson resources for research into World War II, the Holocaust and human rights. Structured discussion encourages students to relate human rights concepts to events in the novel, historical events and events in their own experience.

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