On Twitter I had an intriguing conversation with Monika Hardy about the power of journals and the movie Freedom Writers. The movie is based on the true story of a teacher who made progress with her at risk students through journal writing. The movie demonstrates the impact Anne Frank’s Diary made on the students who struggled with overwhelming issues, such as poverty, racism, and gang violence.
Living in Germany for the last two years has renewed my interest in a diary that touched me years ago as a child. Anne Frank was born within a 3 hour drive from me in Frankfurt, Germany. When she was 4 years-old she moved to Amsterdam where she wrote about her family’s struggles when hiding from the Nazis. Last Sunday, I visited the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam and was deeply moved by the experience. At the time, I had just watched the 20 second footage of her released on YouTube, which I shared with my adult students in this lesson plan.
When Our Students Doubt their Impact …
Anne Frank was only 13 years-old when she began writing in her diary, yet her words manage to still inspire real change. For a new teacher struggling to relate to at risk students, Anne Frank’s writings managed to bridge that gap. For students who struggled to stay alive in their violent neighborhoods, her words became strength. In the short video below, Anne Frank’s father, Otto Frank, describes her impact on children everywhere. I saw this video at the Anne Frank house and thought Otto’s words were quite moving, especially since he had survived his wife and children.
In this next video, Nelson Mandela shares the impact Anne Frank’s diary had on him and fellow prisoners.
As I begin digital storytelling projects with my students, I keep Anne Frank’s impact in mind. I want my students to find their voice and begin to think about their influence on the world. I want to raise a generation of students who will empathize with others and collaborate to solve global crisis. Many of our students believe that they are too young to make a difference. I hope Anne Frank’s example will continue to demonstrate to them the potential their voice has for change!
If you enjoyed this post, then you may also enjoy Anne Hodgson’s post on Anne Frank.
How do you help your students realize they can create change? Please share this with us by leaving a comment below.