Lesson 3 of 8

Viewing: Watching Schindler’s List

From the Unit:

Essential Questions

  • How can we be thoughtful, emotionally engaged viewers of Schindler’s List?


This lesson, intended for the day of the film screening, offers suggestions for how to set a reflective tone before viewing the film and how to help students capture their observations, thoughts, and emotions in their journals immediately after. In order to be sure that students have time to complete these activities, it’s important to be thoughtful about the logistics of watching this film with your students. The activities below are suggestions to help you plan your students’ experience of viewing Schindler’s List carefully. Teachers know their students best, and therefore we trust that you will adapt these suggestions to meet the needs of your students and your community.

Schindler’s List will be re-released in theaters in commemoration of its 25th anniversary in December 2018. Many students will have the opportunity to view the film in theaters during the school day upon its re-release. However, other teachers may wish to screen the film for students in school. This lesson provides guidance for viewing the film with students in either setting.



  1. Preparing to View the Film

    • On the day of the film screening, ask students to revisit the poem by Sonia Weitz from the reading Take This Giant Leap, which they first explored in Lesson 1.
    • Pass out copies of the poem and find a quiet place (either in your classroom or in the theater) to read it aloud or have a chaperone read it with students. Then ask students to return to their journals and their initial responses to the following questions:
      • What does this poem mean to you? What questions does it raise for you?
      • What does this poem suggest that learning about the Holocaust is like?
    • Ask students to reflect on how their thoughts have shifted over the course of the last three lessons. What would they add to or change in their original answers? Then ask them to reflect on the following questions in their journals: What questions are you bringing to your experience of viewing the film? What do you want to learn? What do you expect to feel while watching the film?
    • You can keep students’ responses private, or ask each student to share one word that describes what they predict watching the film will be like in a Wraparound activity.
  2. Responding to the Film after Viewing

    • Ask students to complete a journal reflection on the following prompts to help them process their thoughts and feelings immediately after watching the film:

      • What do you remember about the film? What images or scenes stand out?
      • Which characters stand out in your mind? What qualities make those characters memorable?
      • List some important things you learned from the film, questions that the film raised but did not answer, and at least one way that the film relates to the world today.
    • Then have students discuss their observations with their classmates. Was everyone struck by the same scenes? The same characters? How do students account for those differences?
    • Finally, have students to complete a Color, Symbol, Image activity. Ask them to think about the most important theme, idea, or emotion that surfaced for them in response to the film. Then have them reflect on how they can communicate the essence of what they’ve seen using a color, a symbol, and an image. You can either choose to keep students’ responses private, have them share in a Think, Pair, Share or Wraparound activity, or use the Gallery Walk teaching strategy to help students reflect on the patterns, similarities, and differences in how they are responding to the film.



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Prepare yourself and your students to use the Teaching Schindler's List unit to view and analyze the film as a class. 

Lesson 1 of 8

Pre-Viewing: “Take This Giant Leap”: Preparing to Teach Schindler’s List

Students prepare for their study of Schindler's List by creating a contract establishing a thoughtful, respectful, and caring classroom community.

Lesson 2 of 8

Pre-Viewing: Establishing the Historical Context for Schindler’s List

Students are introduced to the history of ideas, events, and decisions that shaped the world of Schindler’s List.

Lesson 3 of 8

Viewing: Watching Schindler’s List

Students experience a thoughtful viewing of Schindler's List by completing activities immediately before and after watching it that help them reflect and process reactions.

Lesson 4 of 8

Viewing: Oskar Schindler and the Making of a Rescuer

Students consider how Schindler's evolution from collaborator to rescuer adds to their thinking about the importance of individual choices.

Lesson 5 of 8

Viewing: Analyzing the Art of Schindler’s List

Students analyze the film as a work of art and consider how Spielberg’s artistic choices foster emotional engagement with Holocaust history.

Lesson 6 of 8

Post-Viewing: The Persecution of the Rohingya and the Persistence of Genocide

Students reflect on how the Holocaust can educate us about our responsibilities to confront genocide and injustice today.

Lesson 7 of 8

Post-Viewing: Responding to Hate in Our Communities Today

Students begin to relate Schindler's List to the contemporary world by examining recent stories of racial hatred in Charlottesville and Germany.

Lesson 8 of 8

Post-Viewing: Building a Toolbox against Hate

Students create a "toolbox" of the skills, attitudes, and actions that are necessary to respond to and prevent hatred from taking hold in their communities.

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