The Anne Frank Wall project activity Lesson Plan

Photos of The Anne Frank Wall in early June 2004 ( 5th period , school quad, left) and May 2004 ( 4th period, athletic field, right)

  • Anne Frank Wall Lesson Plan

The Anne Frank Wall project activity Lesson Plan


The experience of creating The Anne Frank Wall each year is very powerful. Students see it grow gradually, a few pictures a day. As it grows, its size and the variety of people, languages, and countries represented make a strong, easily grasped impact on students at all levels of learning maturity.

The assignment itself is easy to communicate. I asked students to bring in a photo of someone holding a copy of her diary in a language other than the version we read each year in English. I encouraged them to involve family members and experimented with giving them a small amount of extra credit for photos taken in other countries.

I had always taught Anne Frank's diary in the spring and so we extended the building of the wall until a few days before 8th grade graduation. We always displayed the wall at the graduation ceremony. Many parents were quite moved to see the whole wall for the first time.

This year, we had the opportunity to display it during our school's Cultural Fair in mid-May. The wall's display was mentioned in our neighbor paper's article on the Cultural Fair. Click here to read the article.

Learning Objectives

-Students will discover the power of writing

The idea to build the wall first came from my desire to show students the power of the act of writing. Because writing is portable in time and space, it takes on a life of its own, separate from its author. As a teenager, Anne Frank tried honestly to capture her life experience in writing and because she made that effort daily, we now can carry her experience with us throughout our lives. That act of writing has, in some way, granted that wish to "go on living, even after (her) death."

-Students will discover the power of the human spirit to rise above adversity-

The Holocaust is a difficult but necessary subject for all students to study fully. Each year I show the Oscar-winning documentary, Anne Frank Remembered after we study her diary. In viewing this, students learn of her life in Westerbork, Auschwitz, and her death in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. The building of this wall really then becomes an act which shows that her spirit lives on in the millions of people all over the world who continue to read her diary. When she was taken from her family's hiding place and her diary abandoned in a pile of papers stuffed in a briefcase, she had no idea that her effort to communicate her life and her spirit to others would ever be realized. The building of this wall each year shows students graphically how powerfully her words and spirit continue to live in others all over the world.

Guiding Question:

The Guiding Question that I frame the whole study of Anne Frank's life with is:

How will learning about her life change the way you live yours?**

**click here to read examples of student essays written in response to this question

Note: This year, at the end of this long unit, we viewed the Oscar-nominated documentary Promises which follows the present-day lives of seven Palestinian and Jewish children who live 20 minutes from each other in Jerusalem but are "worlds apart." I assigned the student essay after the viewing and modified its guiding question accordingly to:

How will learning about her life and the lives of the children in Promises change the way you live yours?

I put up a poster I made with this question on it and I introduce the overall study of her diary with this thought. At the end of the study (i.e., after reading her diary, viewing the 1959 film version and Anne Frank Remembered and listening to local Holocaust speakers discuss their experiences), they write an essay answering this question.

Preparing to Teach this Lesson

1. First, a discussion should be held to help students understand the purposes of the Anne Frank Wall: --to show in a simple way how Anne Frank's act of writing realized her wish to "go on living, even after (her) death"

--to convey in a single impression the power of a teenager's writing--i.e., the power of writing to transcend time and space

--to show graphically the power of the human spirit to rise above adversity

They need to buy into the value of contributing personally to building the wall. To help them with this, I always have them look at the fate of her diary from Anne Frank's point of view. When she is captured, her diary is abandoned and she lives the rest of her life with no hope that her diary will ever be read by another. In their looting, the Germans consider it worthless so it's left on the annex floor to be found long after by Miep Gies.

Also, Anne Frank believed until her death that her father Otto was executed immediately upon arrival at Auschwitz because he was 55 years old--much older than the acceptable range for slave labor. Lise Goslar states in Anne Frank Remembered that he looked relatively healthy because he had only been in Westerbork labor camp for a month. Also, he always looked much younger than he really was. (His last interview on shown in the movie occurred when he was 90. I always pause the frame and ask students how old he appears. Most guess he was in his 70s'.) Ironically, her strongest advocate whom she believed she'd lost, endured terrible suffering to champion her diary so that her spirit would live on.

2. This year's assignment: When I first conceived of the wall project, I let students search the internet for versions of the diary in other languages and allowed them to photograph themselves in San Jose with copies of the diary found in local libraries in other languages. This past year, I challenged students to photograph themselves with copies of the diary found in libraries and bookstores from other communities outside of Santa Clara County. Since previous students have presumably found photos from the internet of the diary in other languages, I won't be accepting these any more.

This past year, I broke the assignment on the Anne Frank Wall project down into two different types of activities:

a. publicizing the website so that others view and contribute to building the global version

b. building the website by contributing photos of one's self or others with the diary

Publicizing Activities:

Students will choose one of the following activities on a first-come-first-served sign-up basis:

1. Use internet sites such as Epals to promote with other students

2. Use the internet to find Anne Frank lesson plan sites to contact other teachers who focus on Anne Frank's life

3. Contact local media (print, radio, TV stations) to solicit coverage of the project

4. Use the internet to find groups of independent international booksellers and design fliers for bulletin boards to promote building the global wall with patrons

5. Do activity #4 with groups on independent US booksellers

6. Contact independent travel agents to promote patrons' submission of photos while travelling abroad

7. Research the names of the publishers of the diary in other languages and contact them for help in building the global wall

8. Contact cruise line companies to promote building the global wall as an activity for vacationers

9. Contact Anne Frank websites and other related sites (e.g., the US Holocaust Museum, the Shoah Foundation) to establish the site as a link with their sites

10. Find at least five Language Arts teachers in each of the other states and contact them about building a wall with their own classes

11. Find out which countries have a predominance of inhabitants that speak the languages that have not yet been represented on our wall and devise strategies to publicize the building of the global wall

12. Survey our school to find which students have relatives in other countries. Contact those students' relatives to solicit help in building the global version of the wall

13. Work with the local branches and other branches of the NCCJ organization to promote the project

14. Contract the local school districts' and county's curriculum staff and other local county high schools and middle schools to promote the project

15. Find a list of media international journalists (i.e., travelling correspondents) and promote the project and solicit their photos with the diary

16. Engage in a daily clipping service activity to discover new avenues to publicize the project. Find five new avenues in two weeks

17. Use the internet to find a list of English language schools abroad and contact their Language Arts staff

18. Design an all-purpose flier that could be used in a majority of the above activities

19. Work as student webmasters to update the website by improving its 'look & feel' and ensuring that it's linked to major portals, fine-tuning its meta tags, etc. to improve its visibility across the web

I have an email list for all parents/guardians of students and I emailed a letter (click here to read an Adobe Acrobat Reader or .pdf version of it) soliciting parent volunteers to help manage the above activities. A number of parents have already asked in they could help in the project. I would like to have an average of 6-8 students working on each activity across the 5 classes I teach.

For a writing activity, we will work as classes to create "boilerplate" letters which can be used to contact the various groups listed above. I would also like to work with parent volunteers to create letterhead stationery which will be used by students to mail to their contacts.

Photo Contribution Activities:

Because student photos must be blurred for safety purposes, I am encouraging them to get photos of older relatives, neighbors, etc. One tactic I'm trying is to use that time-honored technique to amass prospects that insurance companies, etc. use with new agents: make a list of everyone you know.

Students should focus on those people they or their families know who live in or travel to other states and countries. They should contact these people for help in the project. Of course, as students travel with their families on vacations (e.g. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Presidents' Week, and Easter) they have opportunities to gather photos. Lastly, parents' and parents' co-workers' business travel also affords such opportunities. A number of photos on the original wall come from these situations.

The second source for help will come from contacting those they don't know. The original wall contains photos from booksellers and overseas students who were contacted and emailed photos to us. Many of the publicizing activities offer potential for gathering photos from such sources.

New Directions for The Anne Frank Wall project: making photo trails with

I just discovered the wonderful site and have registered as a member (annefrankwall). To paraphrase the site's founder Ron Hornbaker, the site's purpose is to release books 'into the wild' and track their progress and the lives they touch. I want to extend his idea by asking those who find copies of Anne Frank's diary to send a photo holding the copy to our website. Thus, we can create a photo trail of each copy which we can share with,

  • Releasing The Diary of Anne Frank into 'the wild' and creating photo trails

For the upcoming school year, I plan to get a copy of The Diary of Anne Frank for each student, donated by a grant from the Allen and Ruth Ziegler Foundation, and have each student 'release' their copy, after registering it with, into the wild in some interesting place (e.g. while on vacation). We'll include a request in each book for those who find and read it before passing it on to take a picture of themselves with the copy and send it to this website. In other words, we want to make a photo trail that tracks the book's progress in 'the wild.' Of course, has over 320 copies of Anne Frank's diary waiting to be discovered in the wild (e.g. in England, Germany, Wales, Malaysia, New Zealand, Italy, France, Portugal, Chile, as well as all over the U.S.) at present.

But, I'm even more excited about using to release Alicia Appleman-Jurman's book Alicia, My Story after they've read it and ask those who find and read it to send photos of themselves with the book so our classes can build a photo 'wall' on this website for Alicia.

I hope this helps you in creating you own project. Please email us your results using the "Submit your photos" button and we will add them to the global version on the website.

Jim DeLong

8th Grade Language Arts
Bret Harte Middle School
7050 Bret Harte Drive
San Jose, CA 95120

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Created by James DeLong and Jon Erickson

Copyright @ 2004