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September 11th: A Day We Should Never Forget


In the years right after 9/11, many of us struggled with how to teach the event in our Social Studies classes or scheduled school-wide memorial events.  It was still too fresh in many of our minds, and we had students who had seen the day unfold still fearful of the implications in their own lives.  Now that we are over a decade out, I fear that the opposite may be a problem: We may be forgetting the significance of this devastating day on our nation and on the world.

Teaching the events of September 11th, 2001 is still a challenge.  We want to provide our students the information without causing them fear or anxiety about the possibility of terrorism affecting their lives.  More importantly, we want to show them what can happen in a world divided by hatred and anger, and how to bring change in their lives and in the world.

My recommendations are simple:  Use clearly defined objectives and allow plenty of opportunity for reflection.  When students have an open forum for discussion, and even tears, they will learn the lessons we so hope they learn in our classes and beyond.

Some of my recommended resources:
  • The 9/11 National Memorial Website provides great information on the memorial site and the developments since that fateful day.
  • History Channel coverage of 9/11 provides great visual images including videos of the day and the events that followed.
  • The National Memorial Timeline is an interactive timeline with incredible primary resources from the days leading up to 9/11 and after.  In takes you step by step into the lives of many involved.
  • My 9/11 Response Group Activity provides the student resources and those clear objectives that will help students navigate the challenging information.
My greatest recommendation would be to simply have an open classroom where students feel free to discuss the day's events and share their thoughts and fears about the world we all live in.  Allow them to voice their concerns, and then brainstorm ideas to bring the needed change to take up into a more cooperative and safer future.

Happy Teaching!