Friday, September 16, 2011

September 11

You probably remember exactly where you were and what you were doing on the morning of September 11, 2001.  On that day, history gained a new day of infamy that will be a part of American History classes from now on.  Although this piece of contemporary history is seared in their parents’ minds, it might be just another story for many students who are too young to remember the events themselves. In remembrance of the tenth anniversary of this tragedy, many teachers are planning to cover the events and the aftermath in some way.  Teachers have a chance to use this awful event to continue the learning for future generations.

Studying September 11 brings up a whole list of issues for educators.  This blog post from Teaching Tolerance is a good overview of things to think about before presenting lessons on 9/11 to your classes.  One point I thought was especially important was that we need to be careful not to scare primary students with too many graphic images and audio clips, although they are sure to be inundated with these images on television during the tenth anniversary of the attacks.  The site for the National September 11 Memorial & Museum has some excellent lesson plans and resources for teaching about the events and related topics with your class.  Their K-2 fact sheet explains the events for a young target audience.  This would make a very good introduction for elementary students who might be learning the facts of September 11 for the first time. A more detailed explanation that includes pictures and sound clips can be found in this interactive timeline.

Joann has collected and catalogued resources on the topic for the Gateway that we will feature in our columns and in our daily Facebook and Twitter posts.  Be sure to look there first as you plan activities for your classroom.  If you don’t live in New York, there is a good chance your students haven’t been to the site of the twin towers in New York City.  When you introduce the topic of September 11, it would be really nice to take your students there.  A good place to start introducing the events of September 11 to your students is a virtual field trip to the site using Google Earth.  If you search, you can find some that have already been created, or you can create one of your own.  The following animation will show you what the site looks like today and what the planned memorials look like. 

In addition to teaching the history of the events of the day, the topic provides a good context for presenting lessons on tolerance, cultural differences, disaster response, heroes, and other related topics.  A search of the Gateway for any of these topics will bring up a list of standards-aligned resources you can use. 

One major issue brought up by the study of September 11th is students’ understanding and acceptance of Islam.  Studying the attacks might stir up feelings of prejudice in your students against Muslims or even the Middle Eastern culture.  It’s important to study this religion in a balanced way so your students can form their own opinions.  Read our blog post, Peace Through Knowledge to find some ideas and resources for incorporating the study of Islam in your classes.   Another blog post from Teaching Tolerance discusses confronting Islamaphobia, and would be a good post to read before teaching about the subject.

Whether you study the events of September 11th from a purely historical perspective or if you decide to take a different angle and study other issues related to that day, I hope you find some good resources here and on the Gateway.  We’ll continue to share ideas all week, and we hope you do, too!

~Peggy's Corner - September 9, 2011~

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