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USC Shoah Foundation and Discovery Education Launch Global Educational Programs to Support the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz

Monday September 15, 2014

Customized Education Activities, Once-In-A-Lifetime Teacher Professional Development Program in Poland and Exclusive Virtual Field Trip will be Part of Auschwitz: The Past is Present Initiative

USC Shoah Foundation – The Institute for Visual History and Education is partnering with Discovery Education, the leading provider of digital content and professional development for K-12 classrooms, on education components of Auschwitz: The Past is Present, a global communications and education program that will support the official observance of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz on January 27, 2015. The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and the International Auschwitz Council are the organizers of the official commemoration event.

A major component of the education initiative of Auschwitz: The Past is Present will include four new activities on the Institute’s free IWitness online educational platform that provides access to more than 1,300 testimonies from survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust and other genocides. The activities will teach students about the past and encourage them to reflect on how their actions can help make the world a better place. In addition to appearing at iwitness.usc.edu on September 15, 2014, IWitness will also be accessible on pastispresentauschwitz.com later in the fall. Later this year, Discovery Education will also integrate content into its official website, discoveryeducation.com, its digital textbook, Discovery Education Social Studies Techbook™ and its comprehensive digital content service, Discovery Education Streaming for educators to incorporate into instruction. 

Activities include:

In all, 16 new activities based on testimony from survivors and witnesses of Auschwitz will be available in IWitness in the coming months leading up to the anniversary of the camp’s liberation.

Additionally, USC Shoah Foundation and Discovery Education will provide a unique professional development opportunity for 25 educators who support grades 5-12.  USC Shoah Foundation and Discovery Education are launching the Auschwitz: The Past is Present ITeach Professional Development contest to help select the educators who will participate in this program.  Selected educators will participate in a four-day workshop called Auschwitz: The Past is Present ITeach Professional Development. The experience will start in Warsaw at the Museum of the History of Polish Jews and conclude with the official ceremonies at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.

This opportunity will encourage teachers to develop digital and media literacies using the compelling, primary-source interviews contained in the Institute’s Visual History Archive, a collection of more than 53,000 audiovisual testimonies from survivors and witnesses to the Holocaust and other genocides.

The trip promises to deepen teachers’ understanding of the history and continued importance of preserving the historic German Nazi concentration and extermination camp, as well as the testimonies of those who survived the atrocities that occurred there during World War II.

The contest starts on September 15 and closes on October 3.  For more information, visit http://iwitness.usc.edu/SFI/70Auschwitz/.  To provide students a deeper understanding of the continued importance of the Holocaust, Discovery Education, in cooperation with USC Shoah Foundation, will bring the 70th anniversary commemoration directly to the classroom through an exclusive Virtual Field Trip.   Available to schools across the United States in the spring of 2015, the Virtual Field Trip will provide students with firsthand accounts from survivors and witnesses returning to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, and motivate them to engage in a meaningful dialogue about history and its relevance today.

By working together on this important project, USC Shoah Foundation and Discovery Education are filling an ever-present need to keep history alive for generations to come. Interacting with testimony as a primary source in IWitness connects young people with voices from the past in a profound and meaningful way.

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