Friday, September 13, 2013

Teaching 9/11

This past Wednesday marked the 12 year anniversary of the horrific attacks on America.  Many of my students (freshmen) were just 2-3 years old when this happened, hard to believe its been that long ago.  Teaching 9/11 has always and will always be a delicate topic for educators everywhere.  Where do we begin?  What do we include?  What do we omit?  All of these are difficult questions, however one thing is certain: we must teach it!  It's too important and too historic to omit.  I have done a variety of lessons in the past, I tried something different this year and spent a bit more time preparing, it went well and the students learned a great deal.

To preview the lesson I asked the students in each class to jot down the first 5 words that came to their mind when I said 9/11.  I then typed each of these words into which created the word clouds in the pictures below, fascinating to see what the students know, think they know, and possibly don't know!  We then viewed news clips from the day, discussed the facts of what happened, and used google earth and the sphere app to take virtual field trips to these sites.  

The lesson went well.  I am always amazed to find out how much confusion there is over what exactly went on that day 12 years ago.  Here are a few takeaways for me from the lesson: (1) no details are too small to omit.  Many students don't know if Iraq/Afghanistan/Syria or who was involved, teach the facts and explain them thoroughly. (2)  Descriptions of the day in words are good, but video/audio footage gets the students to really understand the gravity of this situation and can be extremely powerful. (3)  Finally, more schools/teachers need to teach 9/11..every year, in every grade, in every subject, if we do not...9/11 will become another date on the calendar.  Never Forget.

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