I did not plan to do any special lesson for 9/11 until I became captivated by the various documentaries that seem to air every year at this sad anniversary time. I don’t know if there is a small part of me that wants to forget the scariness of that particular day in history, or if I just felt compelled to stick to my lesson plans and keep my students on the track that I had intended last Wednesday when I was preparing them.
As a teacher, I tend to be diligent, structured, and possess a whole lot of “stick-to-itiveness!” I make my plan and away I go. However, I veered off plan after feeling the need to share a part of our American history with my students who were born months before, after, or around September 11, 2001.
Eleven years ago, I was teaching my 6th grade students. For whatever reason students were transitioning into the classroom from the gifted program. One student said, “Did you see a plane hit the World Trade Center?” In my mind I thought, “That is a terrible accident.” I turned on the classroom TV to see if there was some crazy story, and my students and I observed the second plane hitting the second tower. BIZARRE.
From there, the day was a blur. Many parents were racing to school to pick up their children as they heard of two additional crashes into the Pentagon and Flight 93 into the field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. An announcement came over at school to call the office if anything was needed, and our district superintendent at the time, Mrs. Rider, came into each class to check on each teacher.
All after school activities were cancelled and we were all shoveled home to watch the news for hours on end searching for clues and answers as to how something like this could happen. Personally, I spent the day teaching, but very stressed that my mom, my sister, or my best friend Julie were on an airplane in the air somewhere as they all flew heavily for their jobs at the time-it was very STRESSFUL until e-mails and phone calls came of safety.
I was lucky to have not lost anyone! I do remember the utter sadness of one of my 6th graders, as September 11, 2001, was his eleventh birthday. I remember him saying how the day would always be ruined! I do hope he has been able to have some happy birthdays since…
After watching all of the coverage from that day, I was determined to share some of what we witnessed as Americans with my students. I found some fantastic resources that I felt were particularly appropriate and would help with their understanding of this horrific day that many have a hard time going back to re-live.
We first discussed what we KNOW about 9/11 using a T-Chart. Students listed things like: planes were hijacked, the Twin Towers/World Trade Center feel down, many people died, etc. After watching the video clip and reading the Reader’s Theater we completed the LEARNED side of the organizer to share ideas we had learned today about 9/11.
I then showed this video that focused on the World Trade Center and the people of New York. It was hard to find footage that did not have profanity as the raw footage of that day was very emotional!
Here are some photos of my students participating in the reader’s theater.
I am glad I changed my plans and took the time to Remember 9/11 with my students. They walk away having a bit more of an understanding of that day! Thank you military, firefighters, police officers, safety officials, and all those lost and impacted everywhere! We will never forget you!
If you are looking for an age-appropriate tool to share with your students, you can grab the resource here…