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September 11: Lessons and Resources for Classroom Teachers

What are teachers doing to help their students understand the attacks that took place September 11, 2001? EducationWorld has culled from the Web and listservs a list of possible resources. 


Don't miss the following EducationWorld resources:

Helping Children Cope: Teacher Resources for Talking About Tragedy

Remembering September 11 Lesson Plans

Teaching About Islam, the Middle East

For millions of Americans, December 7, 1941, is inextricably linked to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. November 22, 1963, is instantly synonymous with John F. Kennedy's assassination. Now, Americans have one more dark day indelibly etched in our memories: September 11, 2001.

How can teachers help students put the events of September 11 into a meaningful context? Below, EducationWorld has gathered background information, lessons and ideas that can help.

Don't miss the EducationWorld article Helping Children Cope: Teacher Resources for Talking About Tragedy.

HOW WILL YOU RECOGNIZE THE ANNIVERSARY?

Schools will recognize the September 11 anniversary in many different ways. Some will honor the memory of those who died. Other teachers will engage students with lessons that challenge them to think or that help them put the events of September 11 in perspective.

Education World presents Remembering September 11, which includes five new lessons to help teachers reflect upon the September 11, 2001, attack on the United States. Those lessons keep alive the spirit of patriotism and tolerance stimulated by the events of 9/11. We also offer below a long list of online lessons and other resources to help make classroom observances more meaningful and inspiring.

Two more resources worth noting:

  • About Our Kids [archived copy] offers resources such as a school manual with practical steps for recognizing the anniversary of September 11.
  • The National Association of School Psychologists offers Remembering September 11 [archived copy], which includes "One Year Later" tip sheets for parents, adolescents, and teachers plus a list of do's and don'ts for memorial activities at school.

SEPTEMBER 11 LESSON PLANS

  • PBS: America Responds
    PBS offers a variety of lesson plans for educators. Those plans include A World At Peace (for grades 2-6), Tolerance in Times of Trial (grades 6-12), Emergency Preparedness (grades 6-8), Taming Terrorism (grades 9-12), and more.
  • Beyond Blame: Reacting to the Terrorist Attack
    The Education Development Center created this 25-page curriculum for middle and high school students in response to concern that the terrorist attacks created a hostile climate for Arab Americans -- much like the climate Japanese Americans faced following the attack on Pearl Harbor.
  • Who Are the Arab Americans?
    Activity ideas designed to challenge student misperceptions about people of Arab descent -- from the Web site Teaching Tolerance.
  • Dear Teacher: Letters on the Eve of the Japanese American Imprisonment
    A classroom lesson focused on letters sent by Japanese American middle school students to their teacher in the days following the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor.
  • Reflecting on September 11
    The Constitutional Rights Foundation has assembled a series of online lessons designed to help young people deal with terrorism, reactions to tragedy, information and disinformation, civil liberties, Islamic issues, and international law.
  • Teaching September 11
    This lesson from PBS's Online News Hour provides classroom discussion resources for talking about the recent controversy over the 9/11 resources published for teachers on the NEA's Web site.
  • Helping America Cope
    This updated guide contains activities to help children cope with the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The guide is designed for use with children six to 12 years of age; however, many of the activities have effectively been adapted for use with older children.
  • Dealing With Tragedy in the Classroom
    WNET in New York City offers these activities to help students cope with loss and learn how to talk to on another about their feelings.
  • Legacy.com
    The New York Times presents this page, which provides lists of all those killed on September 11 and a National Book of Remembrance in which Americans can write their reflections about the events of September 11.
  • America Responds to Terrorism
    The Constitutional Rights Foundation has prepared online lessons, including September 11 -- How Did You Feel?, Fact Finders -- The Media During Times of Crisis, and Analyzing Rumors and Myths.
  • Understanding Stereotypes
    This lesson from Discovery.com teaches the ideas that assumptions can lead to stereotypes and unfair judgments about individuals and groups.
  • Lesson Plans About Terrorism
    This list from links to lessons comes from KidsClick.org.
  • Chain of Hope
    This news article from the St. Petersburg Times tells of a classroom lesson in which students created a "chain of hope." Students wrote personal messages on strips of red, white, and blue paper. They planned to send the chain to the New York City Fire Department.
  • Aaron Shepherd's Reader's Theater: The War Prayer
    "The War Prayer," a short story by Mark Twain, is presented in reader's theater format on this page from Aaron Shepherd's Web site. The script is appropriate for middle and high school students.
  • Another Day That Will Live in Infamy
    In this lesson from the New York Times Learning Network, students are encouraged to share, through discussion and writing, their feelings about September 11, 2001.
  • Hooray for Heroes
    This lesson challenges students to define what a hero is and to select a hero to spotlight.
  • Culture Matters Workbook
    Teachers and students in grades eight and up can benefit from this cross-cultural training workbook. It was developed by the Peace Corps to help new volunteers acquire the knowledge and skills to work successfully and respectfully in other cultures.
  • An American Tragedy: September 11, 2001
    TeacherVision.com's resources include a timeline of the events of September 11, a printable map of the four hijacked airliners' routes, news and informational articles, lesson plans, and more.
  • One Man's Freedom Fighter Is Another Man's Terrorist
    In this WebQuest, students determine the extent of the threat to the United States from terrorism, both domestically and internationally.
  • Preventing Terrorism on the Home Front
    In this lesson plan from CNN, students examine a report by the U.S. Commission on National Security in the 21st Century. They analyze the recommendations of the bipartisan commission and defend or oppose the commission's recommendations.
  • Terror on Trial
    In this lesson plan from the New York Time Learning Network, students examine the motivations, goals, and actions of terrorist countries.
  • What About You?
    Teachers might use this short story about aliens to start a classroom discussion about prejudice.
  • MidLink Magazine's Resources for Helping Students Deal with Tragedy: Lessons and Curriculum
    This page offers links to a variety of lessons.
  • Pencil Flag
    Have students create their own "remember" pencil flags.
  • USA Activities
    ABCteach offers activities and other resources. Included: September 11th Bookmarks.
  • Teaching 9/11/01: Lesson Plans and Syllabi
    Links to lesson plans for all grades, compiled by the Clarke Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Contemporary Issues (Dickinson College).
  • Global Connections: The Middle East
    PBS offers a rich collection of background articles, lesson plans, timeline, and other resources, which are indexed to help educators quickly find topics and materials that are most relevant for their classroom needs.
  • United We Stand
    Publisher Prentice Hall offers classroom lessons on understanding prejudice and students' responses to the terrorist attacks. (Click on Classroom Lessons and Resources at the bottom of the page.

ADDITIONAL SEPTEMBER 11 RESOURCES

  • In the Mix: The New Normal
    Resources to accompany a three-episode series of In the Mix, a weekly show for teens.
  • Muslim Students in the Classroom
    This teacher-created resource explains what Muslims believe and what to expect from the Muslim student.
  • Why Is My Loyalty Questioned?
    In this student-created Web site, parallels are drawn between how the Japanese were discriminated against in the days after the attack on Pearl Harbor and how the same thing happened to many Arab Americans in the aftermath of September 11.
  • America Responds
    Resources from PBS.
  • Children of September 11
    This children's page of the Families of September 11 Web site includes links to resources for teachers.
  • September 11 Through Children's Eyes
    A student-created Web site. The students visited New York P.S. 89, which is located a block from Ground Zero. The site shares their interviews with students and teachers and more.
  • A Brief Illustrated Guide to Understanding Islam, Muslims, and the Koran
    This Islamic guide for non-Muslims is rich in information, references, bibliography, and illustrations.
  • Life After 9/11
    Special reports from the PBS Online News Hour with Jim Lehrer.
  • Scholars of Islam and the Tragedy of September 11
    This Web page is produced through the cooperation of more than 50 professors of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies.
  • Global Connections
    This resource from Boston's PBS station, WGBH, offers a timeline of Middle Eastern history and resources for responding to six big-issue questions.
  • America Rebuilds
    A resource from PBS that documents the cleanup of the WTC site and planning for the future.
  • Why the Towers Fell
    This companion Web site to a NOVA (PBS) episode follows a team of forensic engineers during their in-depth investigation of the precise causes of the Twin Towers' collapse.
  • Heroes of Ground Zero
    This is the companion Web site to a WNET program that presents a candid account of the firefighters in two New York City firehouses as they struggle to cope in the aftermath of the tragedy.

(Updated 8/15/2011)

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