September 11, 2016

Teaching About September 11th



15 years ago our world crashed around us.

I was sitting in my 8th grade class. My teacher got a phone call and left the room. She came back in visible devastated.

It is a day, that if you are old enough to remember, you will never forget.


So how do you explain such a tragedy to students who were not yet born? Do you teach them about September 11th?

The short answer is yes, you do. We teach our students about battles and wars that have happened hundreds of years ago. But not we have a war that took place in OUR generation. Yes we teach about it because we have lived it. We have personally witnessed the destruction that took place. 

So for me, the question is not if you will teach about September 11th - but how?

A Sensitive Topic


Yes, it is hard to teach your students about how and why so many Americans lost their life. But as an educator this is your challenge. To bring it to the understanding of your students.

In Kindergarten, yes I did teach my students about 9/11. Some may disagree with me, but I did it in such a sensitive way that it worked. I have also had parents thank me for discussing September 11th because they did not know how to. Remember - it is YOUR classroom and do what will work for YOUR students. 

Lesson Plan

Every day I have been participating in #bookaday with my homeroom. This week will be focused around peace and September 11th.

Monday - 14 Cows for America
Tuesday - The Man Who Walked Between the Towers

Wednesday - Can You Say Peace?
Thursday - The Peace Book

Friday - If You Plant a Seed

Here is how my block will be structured. Click on the links and it will take you to the free resources that I will be using. 

Introduction - I created a a powerpoint with images to use to set the purpose for the lesson.

Video/Activities - I will be using Brain Pop's video with my 5th graders. This is definitely a video for upper elementary as it discuss terrorism. But again, use what works for your class! Take pieces and use them as talking points.  

Afterwards my students will listen to President George W. Bush's address to America. They will then complete this activity in which they will have to infer, identify tone and draw conclusions. 

Conclusion - I fully believe in the power of picture books. I will be reading 14 Cows for America. This is also the book I read with my Kindergarten class. It is such a beautiful story about the power of kindness. As we know, in the wake of tragedy, you need to only look around and you will see people helping on another. That is what we do as human beings, we support one another. Unfortunately, tragedy has a way of bringing together many groups of people for a common good.


In this story, the Maasai tribe are moved to help the American people. Together they give 14 cows to America. This is such a great gift because to the Maasai , the cow is life. 
I end with the story because it is all about the goodness of people and how they unite. This is a message I want to leave my students with. 

While they are reading they will be using a sticky note to write notes about why the Maasai would have given this gift to America. 

Survivor Tree

Amidst all of the rubble and destruction there was hope, in a pear tree. It was found broken and damaged a month after the attacks. It was cared for and replanted in 2010. It has grown and survived.

 "Today, the tree stands as a living reminder of resilience, survival and rebirth."

Click here to learn more about the Survivor Tree.

Additional Resources

Read alouds are always a fantastic resource, especially with sensitive topics when you do not always have the words. 
Mr. Mault's Marketplace has put together a great collection of read alouds for us. 
Need a rigorous and engaging September 11th lesson? This post shares a lesson using paired read alouds (and free printables) to teach about often overlooked heroes of 9/11: boats and their crew.

Also head over to Jennifer Findley's blog for more ideas for read alouds and activities for upper elementary.

New York City Today

Almost every trip that I make into NYC includes a visit to Ground Zero and Freedom Tower. The landscape has changed, but you can certainly sense the patriotism and unity that surrounds this memorial. 




1 comment:

  1. I love the idea of countering the horror of that day with the uplifting measure of peace. It gives the children a healthy cause or action they can take in response to their sadness.

    ReplyDelete