Happy Remembrance Day! Today is the commemoration of the events that took place on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. I know, as a teacher it’s one of the subjects where you wonder “Should I teach this to my class this year”? Are they too young to learn about the events of September 11th? Honestly, they’re not. I have a few amazing resources for sharing the history of September 11th that will make it easier for you to teach.
My September 11, 2001 Experience
I know exactly where I was and what I was doing on that fateful day when our country was attacked. I watched in disbelief, shock, horror, and confusion as I saw that second plane fly directly into the second Twin Tower. What was I seeing? Did I actually see what I think I see? That plane is flying offly low. Not nose-diving. Flying straight AND… speeding up?! Then, it went into the building. Right into the building.
I couldn’t stand there within my feelings for too long. I was teaching. September 11, 2001, I was Student Teaching in Florida. My class was on the playground. Mrs. Thompson, my Mentor Teacher, came outside and told me to go inside and look at the TV. She didn’t say why but I knew that I needed to follow through based on her expression and body language. Then, I saw it. I witnessed those moments, and the image is forever etched into my memory and my spirit.
What did I do next? Well, I put my emotions in a holding space and went back outside to monitor my sweet, innocent and un-beknowing students. Then, I did what we, as teachers, do. I made sure that my babies were safe, and I kept them close until dismissal. You keep going… teach on.
We would do anything for our students- Anything. Protect them. Sacrifice ourselves for them. Why don’t parents and lawmakers see, realize, and know this? Teachers should be valued and appreciated so much more than we are. We’d give your child our lunch if they forgot theirs. And, yes, we would give our lives for your/our babies. Many already have. Value, lift, honor, support, and uphold your student’s teacher. Please.
Be Honest. Share the Facts
This is where we sometimes get stuck as educators. History should be shared. It did happen. Students are our future, and they will shape the future. They need to know, understand, and be able to analyze the past. I tell my students that they have to be informed citizens. I never share to scare, but to inform and make you aware. You can absolutely be age-appropriate. BUT, being age-appropriate does not mean rewriting or hiding history. Choose the words that you use with care and then share the truth. Select amazing resources that will support sharing the history of September 11th that much more receivable.
Words Have Power
When I teach my Second Graders about Remembrance Day, sometimes I don’t tell them the religion of the men, or what country they were from, and I don’t use the word “terrorists” or “terrorism” (unless they are already familiar with it). Why? Most of the children where I live don’t know any other religion then Christianity and I don’t want them to forever associate being Muslim with being destructive or hateful.
It was a set group of people. Can you share that information as long as you highlight that it was a set group and that not all __________ have the same beliefs and actions? Absolutely! You’ll know your class and community. We tell the facts while being mindful of the impact and intent of our words. Words are living and have power and impact. As educators, we have power and impact. We shape minds.
I tell my students that a group of people that didn’t share the same beliefs as America/Americans and that didn’t agree with some of our actions and practices, wanted to harm us intentionally. They wanted to send us a message and they wanted us to change. For them, it was important that we knew that they were angry and determined. Perhaps, they fully wanted to destroy us. Yes, it was done on purpose. And yes, many lives were lost on that day and the days that followed.
Amazing Resources For Sharing the History of September 11th
Within those moments of horror and fear, something beautiful arose. Love. Action. Selflessness. Faith. The heroes of 9/11 were the police officers, medics, firefighters, and teachers. Heroes were also our neighbors. Total strangers. People that they likely never crossed paths with again were heroes. Love thy neighbor as thyself was in complete effect. Everyone moved to save self and to save others. Prayers. Faith.
Recreating those events isn’t always easy for us to do. Here are a few amazing resources that will help make sharing the history of September 11th a little easier.
2 Favorite New Books
Branches of Hope: The 9/11 Survivor Tree by Ann Magee
Links to books provided are my Amazon Affiliate Links.
I came across this lesson as I was searching for a read aloud to share. It’s of a Librarian during the time of virtual lessons. She does read the book that I was looking for at the end of the video. The beginning shows her talking her students through the events of 9/11 and she shares vocabulary that they may need to know.
There is also a very good Moby Max on YouTube that you can use.
Please Note 3 Things: This is on Moby Max and not on Moby Max, Jr. so it is more direct. There is a “mature/sensitive content warning that I fast forwarded/pre-set to skip and I stopped the video at 3:13 before they began talking about “terrorists” and more specific information.
Vocabulary Words I Used
- American Spirit
Read Alouds as Amazing Resources for Sharing the History of September 11th
There are several read alouds that students seem to relate and connect really well with. They are all on YouTube. As with anything that is suggested, please review it yourself being sharing with your students.
September 12th: We Knew Everything Would Be Alright
I made sure to share this one because it was written by First Grade students that are around the same age as my students. I wanted to end on a note of positivity and reassurances. They really loved seeing the illustrations. In the end, they knew they, too, would be alright.
(Linked above- just fast forwarded towards the end if you elect not to use her lesson). **If this story is on Vooks (vooks.com- subscription needed- it would be beautiful)
Craftivity and Writing
I found this amazing resource for sharing the history of September 11th on Teachers Pay Teachers last year and used it again this year. My students loved it. They related to it and it was easy for them to complete.
Here is the link to this resource by WifeMommaTeacher on Teachers Pay Teachers.
Here’s how ours turned out. Love them!
My students expressed themselves differently were able to feel compassion and gratitude towards those that helped others, those that perished, and/or lost their lives helping others.
We also used this collaborative, commemorative poster by Art With Jenny K.
This is me putting the pieces together. I just realized that I never took a final picture of the poster. LOL. This took some time and organization, but it did turn out really great and the kids loved creating it together!
Thank you for allowing me to share my personal experience with September 11th with you. I think that we all need to be vulnerable with one another as we share in this teaching journey. Together, we are better and stronger.
I would love to hear about your experiences after you use any of the amazing resources to share the history of September 11th that I shared with you. Please leave a comment to let me know! You can also share “Where you were when…” with me.
Picture by Lerone Pieters
Pic by Aidan Bartos