Tag Archives: World Trade Center

How to Teach about 9/11 – Some Resources

English: World Trade Center, New York, aerial ...

English: World Trade Center, New York, aerial view March 2001. Français : Le World Trade Center à New York. Vue aérienne datant de mars 2001. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Every year, I tell my 9/11 story.  And every year, less and less students have any real tangible knowledge about it.

When I started teaching almost a decade ago, the World Trade Center bombings were still fresh and raw in our minds.  The Iraq war was in full swing.  Debate still lingered on which project would win out to replace the Twin Towers.  Many of my students had their own harrowing stories to tell.

Today, all of my kids…all of them…were born after 9/11.  To them, WTC was history.  It was a moment the grown ups remember,  perhaps even older siblings.  But the kids themselves have no real connection anymore.

So even as I tell my story, it gets harder and harder to talk about with filling in the gaps.

Here is a list of resources you may find helpful.  They include lesson plans, curricula and their own links to help teach students about 9/11–especially when it’s not part of their own memory.

The 9/11 Memorial Museum has a very good teaching site.  Lots of age-appropriate lessons and resources.

Teaching 9-11 is a project out of Dickinson College that is more of a clearinghouse of 9/11 educational material.  Still, it is worth a look, especially for their primary source recordings.

Learning from the Challenges of our Times: global security, terrorism, and 9/11 in the classroom was created for New Jersey public schools in 2011 with the partnership of the Liberty Science Center, the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education, and Families of September 11.  This curriculum was designed specifically for young people with no personal recollection of the event.

Scholastic News 9/11 provides another good resource, and it differentiates for younger and older students.

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The Pain of Remembering 9/11

Most of the tragic events of 9/11 occurred within my eyesight, even from a far distance.

I had to walk down to the Brooklyn Bridge, joining the exodus of ash-covered humanity to the only rail terminal that was working in Brooklyn.  I watched cartoons all night, trying desperately to avoid even looking at the news footage.

So imagine my raw senses when I’m teaching classes about 9/11 today.  Many were small children when it happened. How can I use a chart or some damn educational fad from Teachers College about this?  How dare these inhuman morons make me even rehash the events of that day.  Where the hell were they? 

Yet these kids had to know.  They wanted to know.  I would be a disgrace as a teacher if I didn’t share my experience.  At that moment, it was better to just tell my story.  I did, narrating every second of that day.  It happened over and over, in many classes for many students.  In some rooms, you could hear a pin drop.  That’s the power of oral history.

My advice on this solemn day–sometimes its best to heave that plan book out the window.  Shut the fuck up and let the witnesses tell the story.  I assure you, they’ll never forget it.

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