I always taught a special lesson to my students on September 11, reserving this day for remembrance and honoring our fallen heroes. Teaching through tears in one of the first weeks of school was never easy, but it had to be done. Sadly, I wasn’t surprised how many teachers forgot about this day, even being in New York City. However, I was surprised at my encounter with an entire class of eighth graders who had no idea what happened on September 11; now, they know. Please do not ignore September 11 with your students. Please do not give it a five minute remembrance before you go on to teach the lesson in your unit. Please devote your entire lesson to remembering this day and teaching about it. You may cry, your students may cry, but they must know the meaning of September 11. With my eighth graders I chose to have them read about and honor our heroes from this day, after listening to and watching the emotional news clips. I brought in artifacts to show them from my father who volunteered at Ground Zero. I showed them pictures and tried my best to explain the emotions surrounding this day; the fear, confusion, heartache, unity, and pride. Everyday, but on this day especially, we must uphold our duty to make sure future generations never forget this tragedy; never forget the thousands of American lives we lost; and never forget the heroes we honor.
-Annie Keller, co-founder of The Locke Society
The lesson I used was suggested by the 9/11 Memorial and Museum for the World Trade Center. This lesson is no longer available on their website, but I have provided my outline and modified article. The 9/11 Memorial and Museum has other lessons that can be found here: https://www.911memorial.org/learn/students-and-teachers/lesson-plans.
*The texts used for the lesson contain graphic details. Use your best judgment on whether to use these texts with your students.