Anne Frank
Learning About the Holocaust

English - GCSE Coursework

This guide has been written to help you speak, read and write about Anne Frank and the Holocaust for coursework in GCSE English exams.

It is written for students in England and Wales, doing assessed work in English in Key Stage 4 of the National Curriculum (GCSE).

But it may be of interest to students of English generally.

Suggested Activities

The activities here are suitable for work in Key Stage 4 of the English and Welsh system, but may also be appropriate to students in Key Stage 3, as well as for pupils in other education systems.

They are organized under three of the category headings for coursework in the AQA specification for GCSE English (there are other coursework categories to which the subject of Anne Frank and the Holocaust is not relevant):

  • Speaking and Listening
  • reading and writing: media
  • writing: Original Writing

To see the coursework requirements for these three categoriest, click on the link below.

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Speaking and Listening

Explaining, Describing, Narrating

Prepare and present a short item for a children's TV or radio magazine program (e.g. Blue Peter, Newsround) about Anne Frank or the Holocaust.

This should be to coincide with an anniversary (Anne's birthday) or other event (such as Holocaust Remembrance Day).

Your task is to give a short account, suitable for a young audience.

This could be done in pairs, groups or individually.

Some things to think about are these:

  • Lexicon (vocabulary) - what special words do you need to use? Can you explain them?
  • Grammar - can you keep sentences short, use active verbs and use appropriate pronouns (speak to the audience as “you”)?
  • Tone and style - can you be serious without being boring or talking down to (patronizing) the audience?
  • Viewpoint - what attitude should you take to your subject?
  • Relevance - can you show why something that happened many years ago is still important?

You may wish to record this presentation onto audio or videotape.

You may even wish to edit this, to produce a more concise “broadcast”.

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Exploring, Analysing, Imagining

This can be done as a rôle play in which participants choose a rôle, and give evidence to a tribunal.

When they are not in rôle, they can put questions to “witnesses”.

After the Second World War, the Allies held a tribunal (a special kind of investigation and trial) to investigate and punish the war crimes of the Nazi leaders. Many people gave evidence about the Holocaust.

If Anne Frank had survived the war, what evidence would she have given?

This task can be adapted to fit other situations in which people are persecuted.

Sometimes, there really has been a tribunal, but often this has not happened.

Some real world examples are the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission or the International Tribunal into war crimes in the former Yugoslavia (the alleged war crimes happened in the former Yugoslavia, but this tribunal meets in the Hague, in the Netherlands).

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Discussing, Arguing, Persuading

A word of caution: where people (including children) hold views which have emotional rather than rational causes, then attempting persuasion may be a waste of time.

Often teachers have more success with discussions about things which children know and care about, but not so deeply that the heart overrules the head.

It is sometimes easier to debate school uniform or homework than abortion or racism.

On the other hand, since racist attitudes are often picked up, uncritically, from family or peers, then it can make sense to challenge them.

Simply attacking or ridiculing the person who expresses a racist, or seemingly racist, view is unlikely to help him or her to change.

Teachers can readily find an appropriate subject for discussion - the possibilities are almost infinite, so here you will find one example, which can readily be adapted.

This can be done as an informal or more formal and structured debate. (Some students like a formal and competitive debate, with rules and assigned rôles for speakers.

This can also be a way of ensuring that all students take part.)

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Integration or Separation - Can we create a multicultural Society in the UK?

Depending on the teacher's awareness of his or her students, this task might assume that a multi-cultural society is a good thing, and debate about how to achieve it.

Other groups might be able to discuss whether such a society is a good thing.

Here are some points you might wish to consider:

  • Different kinds of difference - what things are used to define or identify groups of people: colour, faith group, social class, occupation, education, age or other category?
  • Why do people want to integrate or retain a group identity?
  • How well have particular groups adapted to life in the UK (or other country)?
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You will find detailed guides to particular tasks for studying media elsewhere on this site.

Click on the link below to find these resources:

Here are some ideas for other tasks that use Anne Frank and the Holocaust as a theme.

  • Anne Frank and the Holocaust on the Web - make a study of Web sites that focus on Anne Frank and/or the Holocaust. You can make a review or guide to evaluate these - who are they for, by whom are they written, what content do they have, how interesting/useful/informative are they? Click here to go a list of recommended sites.

  • Anne Frank and the Holocaust on TV and/or film - make a study of feature films and/or television broadcasts that have Anne Frank or the Holocaust as their subject.
  • A short guide to Anne Frank or the Holocaust in the media - explain how the subject is treated in a range of media (as many as possible) comparing the way this happens in print, broadcast, film and Internet texts.
  • Reporting the Holocaust - make a study of now news reporting media have presented the Holocaust, either recently or over a longer period of time. Use newspaper archives and broadcasts to do this.
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There are many ways in which the subject of Anne Frank and the Holocaust can be approached as a task in Original Writing.

The huge range of texts already published show what is possible - any one of these could be a model for you to copy.

This part of the guide will briefly suggest how the subject is suitable for writing in different forms.

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Audience, context and purpose

When you write seriously you should think about your audience, the context in which they will read what you write, your purpose in writing and what you have to say.

You need not find something original - it may be better to write well what has already been said or written by others.

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Form, conventions and structure

This should lead you to think about the form in which you are going to write.

Do you wish to write factually, or produce an imaginative work (although Anne Frank and the Holocaust are real subjects, you can still create fiction out of them)?

Do you wish to write text to be read as print or heard as a TV or radio broadcast?

Should it be narrative, description, dramatic dialogue or something else?

And when you settle on a form, you may wish to use established conventions of that form.

In a narrative, for example, you might choose to speak as narrator (using the first personal pronoun "I") or give an impersonal account (using names and the third person pronouns "he, him; she, her; they, them").

In a documentary broadcast, you might want to make statements direct to the audience, to be given as a voice-over or introduction by a talking head.

And you should also think about the structure of what you write - how is it to be organized, especially so that its shape is clear to teachers or assessors of your work.

What follow are suggestions for tasks. The list is only suggestive - add, adapt or ignore it if you have a better idea.

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Print Texts
  • Write an article for a children's encyclopaedia that introduces Anne Frank or the Holocaust.
  • Write a feature for a magazine about racism in the UK today - make sure your style is suited to the magazine. You might like to include some “true life” case studies (change the names).
  • Write a chapter for a book to teach history or citizenship, using the Holocaust or the life of Anne Frank as a subject. Make sure you present things clearly - let your readers see what is information, what is a question, what are the activities you want them to do, and so on.
  • Write a leaflet (or series of leaflets) for a political party or organization (like the Commission for Racial Equality or Comic Relief) that opposes (or supports racism) or some other policy related to race or ethnic groups. Try to persuade your readers of the view of this group - you can play devil's advocate, and write a leaflet supporting some policy you really do not think right (for example, a leaflet for a Nationalist party, which supports repatriation of ethnic groups).
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Film and Broadcast Texts
  • Steven Spielberg has made it hard for the rest of us - Schindler's List is a very powerful and moving treatment of the Holocaust. But you could write an episode or several episodes for a feature film of your own.
  • The life of Anne Frank might make a good subject for a feature film or TV series. Write a synopsis (outline) of what might be in this, and write the script (screenplay) for one or more episodes. Be sure to find out how screenplays are set out. (There are many guides online.)
  • Documentary broadcast - this can be used for Speaking and Listening also. But you could write the script for a documentary for TV or radio on the subject of Anne Frank or the Holocaust. You need to think about the audience (adult, youth, children) and the documentary style - is it to be a general interest documentary, or done in a historical manner.
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New Media
  • Design a page or series of documents for a Web site related to the Holocaust or Anne Frank. Use this to educate, to inform or simply to have your own say.
  • Texting - using information on this site or from elsewhere, make a series of text messages (say 50 in all) which you could send out, one a day, so that young people could learn about Anne Frank for an exam, by using their mobile phones.
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Further Guidance on Writing

What Do I Have To Do?

You are required to write for specific audiences and to explore, imagine or entertain.

Apart from this there is no restriction on what you may do.

You should not think of writing as a “school task”.

Try to write what might really be written and published in the outside world.

Write about what you know, and in forms which you know.

Make sure your work is original - that is, not the same as everyone else's.

This guide will suggest some helpful approaches.

Please note that for some exam courses, your work must be in your own handwriting.

Some of the tasks outlined here are suitable for writing by hand.

You may still, if you wish, use a PC for drafting and planning.

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Written and Spoken Texts

You do not have to write to be read on the page (though your teacher and examiners will read your work in this way).

You may write a script for performance on stage, or to be broadcast on radio or television.

Much of the writing in the real world is for broadcast media.

You may write drama, but could also write a script for a documentary broadcast.

You could script a news broadcast (like Newsround), using episodes from Anne Frank's diary.

What is important, is that you show awareness of your audience.

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Write Real Texts for Real Audiences

Don't write things which you have only ever met in school.

Write things which you would like to read.

Write in forms which you know.

Think carefully about your readers - make your style suitable for them.

Why not try to get your work published?

Write a letter to a magazine which you read, for example.

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Presenting Your Work

Whether you use the PC or write by hand, set your work out to look like the kind of text you are trying to write - use suitable layout and type, as far as possible.

Use a style of writing or speech which is appropriate: read real published texts to find out what this is.

You may use illustration or paste in pictures.

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Coursework requirements for AQA GCSE English

This is not the only syllabus for students taking GCSE, but all will have some similar elements to those here, as the syllabus is based on the National Curriculum.

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Speaking and Listening (En1)

Candidates will be assessed on three units of work which cover the following clusters of skills:

  • Explaining, Describing, Narrating
  • Exploring, Analysing, Imagining
  • Discussing, Arguing, Persuading

This range must be sampled in a variety of formal and informal contexts, and should involve each candidate in individual, paired and/or group work.

A unit of work may consist of a number of different, but coherently linked, activities.

The three assessments should summarise the candidate's best work across the range of Speaking and Listening (En1) activities and within a variety of contexts, and should be drawn from the teacher's complete records of the candidate' s oral work throughout the course.

The En1 Assessment Form allows teachers to record coverage of range and context alongside brief details of activities within each unit of work.

Suitable activities within planned units of work might include:

  • individual reminiscences or storytelling. This could involve explaining, describing and narrating, exploring, analysing and imagining; informal preparation in pairs or small groups, leading to formal individual presentations
  • group discussion, formal or informal, of a current issue or of some media texts encountered in class.

Analysing, discussing, arguing and persuading, might involve

  • a prepared reading of a literary text by two candidates. This could involve informal exploration and discussion, and some analysing and argument. A formal presentation to a larger group might be given.
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Media (En2/3)

This response should demonstrate the candidate' s ability to analyse, review and comment on features of media texts such as magazines and newspapers, radio and television programmes, and films.

This response must be assessed for both En2 and En3 as indicated in the mark schemes in Appendix 6.

Although practical and/or oral activities may be valuable in preparing this response and may be used to provide evidence in one or more units of the candidate' s Speaking and Listening (En1) assessment, the submitted response must be a substantial piece of written work which demonstrates the candidate' s ability to respond to text through analysis, review and comment.

Suitable examples of work might include:

  • comparison of how an event or subject is presented in different media;
  • analysis of attitudes and/or bias in reporting news events within one medium and/or in different media;
  • consideration of the effects of structural and presentational devices in advertising in one or more media;
  • an account of a practical media activity such as making a film or radio text (e.g. of a news programme, documentary or interview), or designing a front page in the style of a named newspaper.

Where, for example, a film or video version of a text is the subject of a coursework response, there should be analysis and review of the medium as well as of the written text.

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Original Writing (En3)

This response should demonstrate the candidate' s ability to write for one or more specific audiences for purposes such as explaining, imagining or entertaining.

There is no restriction on content, form or genre.

Suitable examples of work might include:

  • narrative
  • poetry
  • drama script
  • autobiography or other personal writing
  • travelogue

In some circumstances, several short pieces of writing might be included as one assignment, e.g. letters on a common subject or issue from different viewpoints.

Lengthy “projects” or disparate items must not, however, be submitted.

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