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September 11th is a difficult, yet imperative, topic for educators to teach and explore with their students. On this anniversary of 9/11, many teachers have students who either were not yet born or do not remember the terrorist attacks. It is hard to believe that high school seniors this year were only about 7 years old when our country changed forever, so teachers will need to provide a frame of reference for them to be able to comprehend the magnitude and lasting effects of the events from that day. For these lessons, The National September 11 Memorial and Museum provides detailed teacher developed lesson plans with content for most subject areas and every grade level. Each lesson is aligned with the Common Core Standards and includes higher level thinking questions, review questions, key vocabulary terms, and resource suggestions for further enrichment.
Initially, students need background knowledge leading up the events that happened on 9/11. Before the grade level lesson plans, there are detailed foundational plans to provide age level appropriate prior knowledge and discussion. While high school students can understand more complex issues relating to the issues of terrorism, the elementary foundational lesson plans are perfect for the younger set.
Older students and adults will thoroughly enjoy exploring 911 webcasts, discussions with experts in all fields relating to September 11th and terrorist activity. These webcasts are with individuals who are most knowledgeable on the subjects of the Middle East history and security. Each webcast has its own individualized lesson plan. Depending on the age range or subject you teach, you can use different webcasts. According to the site, the webcasts are updated every few weeks.
The Spirit of Volunteerism: 9/11 and Beyond is a short film (8 minutes) made for students, and the site provides lesson plans for upper elementary, middle and high school teachers regarding the film and potential follow-up volunteer activity. There are appropriate September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance service project ideas for students of all ages.
There is a wonderfully detailed section regarding tribute art to 9/11. Since art is a healthy, creative, and common way to express feelings and encourage healing, the museum collaborated with the September 11th Education Trust and the Social Studies School Service to focus on art responding to the events of the tragedy. The varying mediums, expressions, and response art stories are moving. There is a wonderful teacher guide for teaching artistic response to 9/11 – just make sure you have Adobe Acrobat installed, as it is in PDF format.
Everyone, no matter the age, can learn from the information on the National 9/11 Memorial web site. The lessons are intentional, aligned with the Common Core Standards, and even have materials appropriate for small children to understand. It can be a difficult and emotional subject to teach, but these detailed lesson plans provide countless opportunities for meaningful and memorable learning.
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Jessica Roberts graduated from The Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Arts in English and The University of Central Florida with a Masters of Education. She was Teacher of the Year at Winter Park High School in 2007 and resides in Orlando, Florida with her husband and their daughter, Ruby.