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9/11 in the Classroom: Five Years Later


Next week will mark the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001—a day that has had tremendous geopolitical, emotional, and religious ramifications, and ultimately defined our era.

Do you plan to commemorate or discuss 9/11's anniversary in your class? What approach do you plan to take? What challenges are involved? What do you think it's most important for students to learn about that day and its aftermath?


Yes, it is important that students know what happened on 9/11 and its aftermath. I have already started to talk about it in my 4th grade class as television stations are showing documentaries on this subject.
I explain what happened, show pictures of the buildings and try to answer student's questions. They ultimately ask why those people did this and the answer is not easy.
We then do a project to promote Patriot's Day. This year is making a flag out of craft sticks.

We will focus our dicussion on "Heros", We will incorporate the book Max, a child of superhero parents, Max is learning to Fly and is faced with an emergencey he reacts to. We are also incorporating reading rainbows program on Heros and will be watching the episope "MAX" with reading rainbow. In addition for homework the children and their families are asked to bring a picture of a hero it could be a nurse, a doctor, someone from history or a community person from our own community. We have heros all around us and dont even realize it. We will be adding these photos to a bullitin board and also adding to it throughout the year for a graduation scrapbook.

I think it is extremely important to talk or to review the events of 9/11. My students have already been asking me if we are going to do something with it. I think it is especially important for students to conceptualize their feelings and emotions of that day, then to analyze what has been accomplished since that day. Questions that come to mind are "Do we feel safer today?" "Could it happen again?" "What about the perceived loss of civil liberties?"

In commemorating those who died on September 11, please also remember the wave of hate crimes and violence directed indiscriminately against Americans of Arab, Muslim, and South Asian backgrounds, as well as others mistaken for them. Arab-American, Muslim, and Sikh organizations documented thousands of such incidents, including many in schools across the U.S. It should be remembered that members of these communities were among the airline passengers who died and among the police, firemen, medical personnel, and social workers who were part of the rescue effort.

It may be more difficult to raise in the classroom, but it is also important to discuss the way in which the aftermath of 9/11 has led to numerous violations of civil liberties and constitutional rights at home and has been used to justify the disastrous war with Iraq -- a war that was launched under a set of false pretenses, including the attempt to associate Iraq with the 9/11 attacks.

There are very serious lessons to be learned from these experiences. The remembrance of 9/11 should not be allowed to contribute to rebuilding unthinking support for policies that at best should be considered "flawed" or "controversial."

Use the 911 Commission report to teach critical thinking. Use one of Griffin's books (911 Report Ommissions and Distortions) to analyze why some of the obvious and proven lies of the administration regarding its role have not been challenged. Also, check out this website for links to mainstream news media coverage of the inconsistencies of the administration's story.

Our class is beginning school-wide reading days. Our first readings will commemorate 9-11. I asked all our teachers to submit their remembrances of 9-11, and their comments on how that day has changed our world. Their insights are remarkable, and our students will learn something personal about our faculty as they read the contributions. We're then asking students to contribute essays about what they remember or what they know. We may use their contributions next year if we do a similar thing.
It is important to remember it, to discuss it, to analyze it, and to understand how that day changed our lives. Americans are different, and our awareness of the world is growing. These remembrances are a great way to consider how our global relationships are changing, and how we can foster improved communication and yes, "brotherhood" with ALL.

CAIR is the Council on American Islamic Relations. Google "CAIR hate crime evidence" and do some open-minded reading to find the truth. Encourage students to be skeptical of data, especially when presented by advocacy groups. Trust but verify...

I think it is important to talk about 9/11 but I think its equally important to relate those events to your current history...ie Iraq, Afganistan, gas prices, New Orleans

Four years ago, my students created the "Towers of Hope," written reflections of the tragedy that happened the year before. Each reflection was pasted onto a black piece of construction paper. These were connected in the shapes of the Twin Towers.
The following year, I felt it was necessary to have students connect with the uneasy feelings which were still so common among them. We discussed hate crimes and other current events, including the "new" war that had commenced. They created the "Flag of Hope," a colorful presentation that was given to the City Council. This year, written reflections were pasted to either red, white, or blue pieces of construction paper; then they were shaped into an American flag.
This year, we will be creating the "Hope Lives On" memorial, including pictures and reflections. Each student will bring a class picture from five years ago and write about his or her thoughts, feelings, and experiences regarding the tragedy. The second part of the assignment will include a significant factoid they have located from 9/11/01. The final part of the memorial will be a written goal the student feels he or she can strive to meet, in an effort to keep world peace. These reflections, along with pictures, will be pasted onto gray, black, and white pieces of construction paper. We will not form an image of the towers this year, or even an image of the American flag, but spell out the word "HOPE" with their faces, feelings, and promises.

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Recent Comments

  • Jamie Fletcher/ English teacher: Four years ago, my students created the "Towers of read more
  • DROB: I think it is important to talk about 9/11 but read more
  • Frederick Fagal/Assoc. Prof Economics: CAIR is the Council on American Islamic Relations. Google "CAIR read more
  • Hanne Denney/Teacher: Our class is beginning school-wide reading days. Our first readings read more
  • Jeffrey/Ed. Professor: Use the 911 Commission report to teach critical thinking. Use read more




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