ALEX Learning Activity


Children in the Shadows: The Human Costs of World War II

A Learning Activity is a strategy a teacher chooses to actively engage students in learning a concept or skill using a digital tool/resource.

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  This learning activity provided by:  
Author: Hannah Bradley
System:Dothan City
School:Carver Magnet School
  General Activity Information  
Activity ID: 2394
Children in the Shadows: The Human Costs of World War II
Digital Tool/Resource:
Children in the Shadows from ReadWorks
Web Address – URL:

The teacher will present an informational text from the website, ReadWorks. Students will interact with this non-fiction text by annotating the text digitally. The students will answer the questions associated with the article as a formative assessment.

This activity results from the ALEX Resource Development Summit. 

  Associated Standards and Objectives  
Content Standard(s):
Social Studies
SS2010 (2010)
Grade: 6
United States Studies: The Industrial Revolution to the Present
6 ) Identify causes and consequences of World War II and reasons for the United States' entry into the war.

•  Locating on a map Allied countries and Axis Powers
•  Locating on a map key engagements of World War II, including Pearl Harbor; the battles of Normandy, Stalingrad, and Midway; and the Battle of the Bulge
•  Identifying key figures of World War II, including Franklin D. Roosevelt, Sir Winston Churchill, Harry S. Truman, Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Michinomiya Hirohito, and Hideki Tōjō
•  Describing the development of and the decision to use the atomic bomb
•  Describing human costs associated with World War II
Examples: the Holocaust, civilian and military casualties

•  Explaining the importance of the surrender of the Axis Powers ending World War II
Unpacked Content
Strand: Geography, History, Civics and Government
Course Title: United States Studies: The Industrial Revolution to the Present
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
  • Identify the causes and consequences of WWII.
  • Identify the factors that led to U.S. entry into WWII.
  • Locate on a map Allied and Axis Powers and key engagements of WWII.
  • Identify significant persons involved in WWII.
  • Describe the creation of the atomic bomb and decision to drop the atomic bomb.
  • Describe the human cost of WWII.
  • Explain the Axis Powers' surrender and the importance of this in ending WWII.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • consequences
  • Allies
  • Axis Powers
  • World War II
  • Pearl Harbor
  • Battle of Normandy
  • Battle of Stalingrad
  • Battle of Midway
  • Battle of the Bulge
  • Atomic Bomb
  • Holocaust
Students know:
  • How to identify the causes and consequences of WWII and what led to U.S. involvement in WWII.
Students are able to:
  • Recognize relationships among people and places by locating historical events on a map.
  • Cite evidence to support historical events using primary and secondary sources.
  • Describe how world events contribute to international conflict.
  • Examine the contributions of significant individuals and/or groups, and their role in WWII.
Students understand that:
  • There were many causes and consequences of WWII and the motivations for American involvement in this war.

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SS.AAS.6.6- Identify the broad causes and participants of World War II; locate major World War II countries on a map and label Axis and Allied countries; identify at least one major individual involved in World War II including FDR, Adolf Hitler, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin; identify at least one major event of World War II, including the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Holocaust, and the bombing Hiroshima.

Learning Objectives:

Students will describe the human costs associated with World War II by describing how the Holocaust affected children in Europe. 

  Strategies, Preparations and Variations  

See the advanced preparation section for information on how to set up teacher and student accounts on ReadWorks. If this is the first time you and your students are using the website, you may want to model part of this activity for students before they begin the activity independently. 

This activity would be best utilized during a unit on World War II, as it serves as an introduction to the Holocaust. Students will need prior knowledge about other social and political events that occurred during World War II. 

1. Have students sign on to their ReadWorks account. Tell them to click on the informational article you assigned, "Children in the Shadows." Direct students to read the article through one time, this time they are simply focusing on reading for comprehension. 

2. Tell students they will read the article again, this time they will be annotating the text for specific details. As students read the text a second time, they should highlight the obstacles Jewish children faced in orange. Tell them to highlight the names of any people or groups who helped the Jewish children during the Holocaust in green. 

Note: To annotate text on the website, highlight the text on the computer screen using the mouse. Right-click on the highlighted text, then select the color that would apply to the highlighted text.

3. As a final assessment, the students will answer the Sequence Question set that is paired with the text on ReadWorks. The students can (and should) look back at the text as they answer the questions; they can even view the questions and article in a split-screen mode. There are five questions total; four multiple choice questions and one short answer question. You may wish to require students to answer the short answer questions in complete sentences. 

Assessment Strategies:

As a formative assessment, view the students' annotations as they work to ensure they are able to discern the obstacles Jewish children faced during the Holocaust, as well as the individuals and groups who tried to help them.

As a summative assessment, view the students' score on the comprehension questions provided on the Assignments & Progress tab on your teacher account on ReadWorks. The multiple choice questions are graded automatically. You will need to grade the short answer questions on the website, which provides sample answers to help judge each student's response.

Advanced Preparation:

ReadWorks is a website that provides K-12 teachers with free literacy resources (About ReadWorks). ReadWorks has literary and informational texts on a variety of subjects and reading skills. You may narrow your search using grade level or Lexile level, making this website a wonderful tool for differentiation. Students will complete their work digitally, and you will provide their score and feedback digitally. This makes it easy to go paperless for this activity.

Prior to implementing this activity, you will need to sign up for an Educator Account on ReadWorks. After setting up an account, create a class from the Class Admin tab, this will provide you with a Class Code to give to students. Next, use the Find Content tab to search for the informational article that will be used during this activity, "Children in the Shadows". After navigating to the article, click on the blue Assign button to assign it to your class.

Each student will need access to a digital device, such as a tablet or laptop. The first time students enter the website they will need to enter the Class Code that is listed on your Class Admin page. If you utilize Google Classroom, you can import your Google Classroom rosters into ReadWorks. You can also assign ReadWorks articles directly into your Google Classroom platform. 

Variation Tips (optional):

This article has two additional Vocabulary Question sets. You may wish to assign students these question sets as well to practice and assess English Language Arts skills. These vocabulary question sets would address this sixth-grade English Language Arts standard:

14 ) Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings. [RI.6.4]

To extend this activity, the teacher can present a corresponding after activityChildren in the Shadows: Creating a Holocaust Remembrance Tile.

Notes or Recommendations (optional):
  Keywords and Search Tags  
Keywords and Search Tags: holocaust, world war two