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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

9/11 Anniversary

Memorial Flag at Pentagon
I've been reading a great number of articles about the upcoming 10th anniversary of September 11, as educators around the country prepare lessons and discussions.  The following piece, from Edutopia blogger Suzie Boss, includes numerous links to amazing resources, including the official 9/11 Memorial site, the September 11, 2001, Documentary Project hosted by the Library of Congress, and Newseum's collection of 147 newspaper front pages from 9/11.

How do we talk to our kids about this? Most of our students aren't old enough to remember 9/11 in a profound way. My oldest daughter was two weeks shy of her first birthday when this horrific event happened, and she really doesn't know anything about it. As a former history teacher myself, I am shocked to be 11 days from the anniversary, realizing my own children will need a lot of help and guidance in processing what is sure to be a big media event. How have I never talked about this with them? While shopping for school supplies, the subject somehow came up (did we see a poster? did I suddenly realize the date was near? I can't really remember) and I found myself with tears in my eyes, describing for her the feeling of turning on the morning news that day and thinking I was mistakenly watching a movie. Could it be real? Was I truly seeing a building collapse on live television? Later that day I went to work at the University of Puget Sound, where I was teaching an educational technology class to graduate students in the MAT program. My students were returning from local area schools where they had been placed for observations, and all had stories to tell about how the principals and teachers were trying to manage the day... How much do we share? How do we know what's going on? Ten years ago, we didn't have social media or free-flowing Internet access in the classroom. YouTube, Facebook and Twitter did not exist. Google wasn't the same search engine it is today. Some schools had one television in one room where employees could see the news. No one knew how to process what was going on, and of course it absorbed all of our attention in the next few weeks as we grieved together and worked to identify best educational practices.

I was overwhelmed...I can only imagine how our children will feel when seeing some of the footage for the first time. Of course, depending on the grade level and subject you teach, and the experience your students bring to the classroom, you will handle this differently. I would encourage you to look over some of the resources available online. Suzie's blog post outlines "how to help your students observe the 9/11 anniversary" many different ways, including:
  • build resilience
  • explore artifacts
  • learn through stories
  • write to learn
  • consider how we remember
  • learn through service
  • use the news
This is a fantastic, comprehensive post. Her last request is to "Share Your Ideas." There will likely be many more ideas contributed in the comments section. If you have ideas of your own, please share them here as well.

Image By U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brandan W. Schulze [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


  1. Thanks Holly! Billy was very young too. I remember going to work in a state of shock that day...after watching the second plane hit the second tower. It still seems surreal.

  2. A colleague just shared these resources from Teaching Tolerance...thought I'd pass them on.