Our Education Blogger is a public school teacher with over a decade of experience. She’s an active NEA member and enjoys writing about her experiences in the classroom.
“Never Forget.” Americans associate this saying with the attacks on September 11th. However, many of our students weren’t even alive when the devastating attacks occurred. In many cases, if you ask a student about September 11th, they wouldn’t be able to tell you much, if anything, about the event. This is where our job as educators becomes critical. Teaching students about September 11th is a delicate, but necessary task. We’ve gathered tips and resources to help you teach your students about September 11th.
10 tips to remember before you begin teaching a difficult subject:
- Make parents aware you’ll be discussing the event in your classroom
- Find out what students know
- Listen to students
- Be as specific as possible, and clear up any misconceptions
- Answer questions with facts, and if you don’t know, don’t speculate
- Reassure students of their safety at school
- Be prepared with plenty of resources – limit graphic pictures and videos
- Talk about it – allow plenty of time for questions and discussion
- Keep it simple – mostly for elementary students
- It’s okay to get emotional – talk about why
Lesson Plans, Resources, and Videos:
9/11 Memorial and Museum – Explore the National September 11 Memorial and Museum’s lesson plans for all grade levels. Each lesson is tied to the Common Core Standards. Grounded in our collections, they are written for use throughout the school year and across subjects, including Social Studies, History, English Language Arts, and Art.
Scholastic: Understanding September 11 – Discover informative and poignant articles, lesson plans, activities, and stories. Use it as an interactive lesson for students or teach from provided lesson plans (along with printables).
History Channel: September 11 Attacks – Find out more about the history of 9/11 Attacks, including videos, interesting articles, pictures, historical features and more.
The Second Day– Watch this 40-minute documentary directed by a 14-year-old who was a kindergartener in Tribeca on 9/11. She interviews students, teachers, and first responders about the experience, how it affected them, and what they learned from the experience.
PBS: Reflections on the 9/11 Memorial– Watch this short video about the importance of the 9/11 memorial and what it means to the city of New York
Teaching Tolerance: Bringing 9/11 in the Classroom- Useful Lessons– Find multiple resources on the events of 9/11 and different cultural understanding
New York Times: The Reckoning– Discover stories, news articles, photos, and infographics on this interactive website about 9/11 and the world more than a decade later.
Education World: September 11 Lessons and Resources– Features a large list of lesson plans and resources from various websites that you can use to teach 9/11 in your classroom
BrainPOP: September 11– Find animated videos, related readings, worksheets and more on 9/11 and a basic understanding of what happened that day.
U.S. Department of Education 9/11 Teaching Materials– Find lesson materials based on The Consitution and 9/11 and extraordinary citizens during 9/11, as well as basic teaching resources to learn about 9/11 and strategies to teach the emotion subject.
The Little Chapel That Stood by A.B. Curtiss
America at War by Lee Bennett Hopkins
America Is Under Attack: September 11, 2001: The Day the Towers Fell by Don Brown
September Roses by Jeanette Winter
14 Cows for America by Carmen Agra Deedy
With Their Eyes: September 11th–The View from a High School at Ground Zero by Annie Thoms
We the People: September 11 by Mary Englar
Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story by Nora Raleigh Baskin
Messages from Ground Zero: Children Respond to September 11th by Shelley Harwayne
102 Minutes: The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers by Jim Dwyer & Kevin Flynn
Report from Ground Zero by Dennis Smith
Last Man Down by Richard Picciotto & Daniel Palsner
How do you teach about September 11th in your classroom? What tips would you give fellow educators when teaching this topic?
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