Resources: Observing the 10th Anniversary of 9/11 9-11 Education 9-11

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Resources: Observing the 10th Anniversary of 9/11

9-11 Education « 9-11 Revisited coalition of 9/11 organizations has created age-appropriate lesson plans

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Next year will be the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. While the tragic day has been deeply engraved in the minds of many Americans, students in middle... …

  • National September 11 Memorial & Museum | World Trade Center Memorial

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National September 11 Memorial & Museum

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Pepperdine University Plans 10th Anniversary 9/11 Commemoration

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Plans for the Largest Day of Service in U.S. History in Observance of the 10th Anniversary of 9/11 Presented at the National Conference on Volunteering and Service0

NEW ORLEANS, June 8, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Principal organizers of the upcoming 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance ( today announced plans for an unprecedented campaign to encourage millions of Americans and others,  in observance of the upcoming 10th Anniversary of 9/11, to perform good deeds, volunteer and support charities honoring the victims of 9/11 and the many who rose in service in response to the 9/11 attacks.  

American Express, headquartered next to the World Trade Center site in Manhattan, has joined the initiative as lead sponsor, pledging $1 million to the campaign for this year.  GlaxoSmithKline and JPMorgan Chase & Company each have committed $500,000, and other major corporations have pledged substantial funding as well.

MyGoodDeed, the respected 9/11 nonprofit that successfully advocated for making 9/11 a federally recognized Day of Service and Remembrance, and HandsOn Network, the volunteer activation division of Points of Light Institute, are leading an influential coalition of prominent organizations that are working together to plan and implement the 9/11 Day initiative.  The primary goal for the upcoming 10th Anniversary of 9/11 is to organize the single largest day of charitable service in U.S. history.  At the urging of MyGoodDeed, and with widespread support from the 9/11 community, the U.S. Congress joined with President Barack Obama in 2009 to pass bipartisan legislation that authorized the establishment of  September 11 as a federally recognized and permanent National Day of Service and Remembrance.

A "Unique Tribute"
"The 10th Anniversary of 9/11 will be a very solemn and important moment for many Americans and others throughout the world," said David Paine, president and co-founder of MyGoodDeed.  "With the support of so many outstanding organizations, this observance will touch the hearts of millions of people, here and abroad, and inspire many of them to join together in creating a remarkable tribute of charitable service and good deeds in remembrance of those who died in the attacks, and in honor of the many who rose in service in response to the tragedy.   We are extremely thankful to American Express for making such an extraordinary commitment to our initiative, and are also deeply appreciative to GlaxoSmithKline, JPMorgan Chase, and our other sponsors for generously supporting this important tribute."

"For individuals and organizations alike, this observance is a most constructive, forward-looking way to pay tribute to those who perished," added MyGoodDeed vice president and co-founder Jay S. Winuk, who lost his brother Glenn Winuk, an attorney at Holland & Knight and a volunteer firefighter who died in the line of duty in the collapse of the World Trade Center's South Tower.  "This unique tribute will help us rekindle the remarkable spirit of compassion that unified our nation in the immediate aftermath of the attacks nearly a decade ago, and in the process will help make the world a better place for those in need."

"Our nation's extraordinary response to the 9/11 tragedy demonstrated that compassion for those in need is a very powerful and unifying force," said Michelle Nunn, CEO of Points of Light Institute and co-founder of HandsOn Network.  "We witnessed what our nation could be like if we all pledged to work together to solve society's most pressing problems. HandsOn Network has long been committed to empowering individuals and organizations to make positive change through volunteerism, and for the 10th Anniversary of 9/11, we are proud to partner with MyGoodDeed, the 9/11 community and so many wonderful organizations to create opportunities throughout the country for people to pay tribute through charitable service."

Joining MyGoodDeed and HandsOn Network as nonprofit-leaders of 9/11 Day initiative are the New York-based 9/11 Memorial, AARP, Business Civic Leadership Center of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and The Mission Continues.  Many other organizations are also actively supporting the 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance. Plans for the 10th Anniversary of 9/11 that were previewed today at the National Conference on Volunteering and Service (NCVS) in New Orleans include:

  • Large scale volunteer service projects to be staged in New York, Washington, D.C., Boston and San Francisco, as well as in other cities throughout the U.S., including Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Mobile, St. Louis, Raleigh-Durham, Minneapolis and Charlotte.  Other cities will be announced at a later date.

  • Education lesson plans about 9/11 that will be distributed nationwide with support from Scholastic to more than one million teachers.

  • New website resources and social media applications, along with a comprehensive nationwide awareness campaign that will launch later this summer.

30-Foot Traveling Memorial Exhibit Unveiled
At the National Conference on Volunteering and Service, MyGoodDeed unveiled a visually stunning 30-foot exhibit memorializing the names of all 2,982 victims lost on 9/11 and including the six individuals who were killed in the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993.  Following the Conference, organizers plan to display the exhibit in New York, Washington, D.C., and possibly other cities leading up to the 10th Anniversary of 9/11.  Visitors to the exhibit can write special messages, including their good deed plans for 9/11, on Tribute cards, which are then pinned on a wall adjacent to the listing of the victims' names and posted online at

For more information about the 9/11 Day initiative, visit or write to

National Day of Service and Remembrance - Scholastic is partnering with organizers of the 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance to provide you with free lesson plans and toolkits for this year's 10th Anniversary of 9/11 Tribute. We invite you to register right now to receive the latest materials. Help engage your students in this important initiative. Download the latest activities for the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

Remember the 9/11 Spirit of Service

This September 11, help students to better comprehend the concept of giving back by participating in service learning projects, "adopting" causes, and reaching out to members of their community. Download these lessons and service learning materials now at

Find out more about service learning projects that your students can participate in while observing the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.


Before you begin using these materials, read this introduction to learn more about how to implement them in your classroom.

Lesson 1: The Spirit of Service

Understand the idea of service and connect it with the spirit of unity that transpired and was sustained for months in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks. Share your project by going to and posting your tribute plans for 9/11, including uploading a photo or video of your work.

Lesson 2: A Cause to Believe In

Select one or more causes or organizations to support through a 9/11 Day of Service project launching on September 11, 2010, the ninth anniversary of the attacks. Projects can last one day, one week, or an entire semester. Share your project by going to and posting your tribute plans for 9/11, including uploading a photo or video of your work.

Lesson 3: Proud to Be of Service

Plan and execute at least one 9/11 Day of Service project that kicks off on the National Day of Service and Remembrance, September 11, 2010. Share your project by going to and posting your tribute plans for 9/11, including uploading a photo or video of your work.


Encourage students to share this helpful guide with their families. Families can visit to adopt a cause or to post their tribute plans for 9/11, including uploading a photo or video of their project.


Click here to find other education materials relating to 9/11 service and remembrance presented on behalf of our partnering organizations.

Remembering September 11 -

Education World offers five lessons to help teachers commemorate the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attack on the United States. These lessons will keep alive the spirit of patriotism and tolerance stimulated by the events of 9/11. Included: Students make a huge flag mural for your school or a proverb book for your classroom library, write letters to fire fighters in their community, read aloud books that model tolerance, raise money for Afghan children, more!

It is difficult to believe that so much time has passed -- it seems like yesterday -- since we heard those first unbelievable reports that a plane, then another plane, had crashed into the buildings of the World Trade Center. For a generation of students who were not around when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated or when Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, the events that day -- in New York City, Washington, D.C., and a field in Pennsylvania -- are pivotal. Their impact will never be forgotten.

The anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, offers a time to remember, to reflect about this unforgettable moment in history, and to reconsider the effect that September 11 has had on our country and the world. To help you honor the anniversary, Education World presents five new lesson plans. These lessons are not focused on the events or the controversy of September 11; instead, they stress the opportunity this anniversary affords to renew the lessons learned that day about patriotism and tolerance.


Click each of the five lesson headlines below for a complete teaching resource.

Hang a Flag Mural
What better way to greet visitors to your school (or to your Town Hall) than with a student-created flag mural? Four mural ideas included.

Write Letters to Commemorate 9/11
Students commemorate 9/11 by writing letters to fire, police, or emergency medical personnel in local communities or to the service men and women who fight terrorism overseas.

Proverbs of One World
Students create a book or bulletin board of proverbs that offer lessons connected to themes of freedom, tolerance, patriotism, diversity, and respect.

Use Literature to Teach Tolerance
Commemorate 9/11 by reading aloud children's books that focus on the theme of tolerance. (Book list included.)

My Name Is Osama
A short story about a young Iraqi boy opens up classroom discussion about the difficulties some immigrant children face, especially in the days after September 11. Student work sheet included.

Don't miss the following Education World resources:

Wall of Peace 

September 11: Lessons and Resources for Classroom Teachers

Teaching Tolerance (Lesson Plans)

NYC Teachers Recall 9/11

Developing 9/11 Lessons That Are Informative, Sensitive

Helping Children Cope: Teacher Resources for Talking About Tragedy

Teaching About Islam, the Middle East

September 11: Lessons and Resources For Classroom Teachers

For millions of Americans, December 7, 1941, is inextricably linked to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. November 22, 1963, is instantly synonymous with John F. Kennedy's assassination. Now, Americans must add one more date to the list of dark days indelibly etched in our minds and in our memories: September 11, 2001.

Those of us who remember one of those earlier tragedies certainly understand the disbelief and confusion that today's kids are feeling. What can teachers do, we wonder, to help students understand this latest disaster? How can teachers help students put the events of September 11 into a meaningful context? What can teachers do to help their students deal -- and heal?

Education World has been tracking listservs and Web sites to locate background information, lessons, and ideas that might be helpful to educators as they struggle to explain and to teach the events of September 11, 2001. We will continue to update the list of resources below, so check back often in the days ahead.

Don't miss the Education World article Helping Children Cope: Teacher Resources for Talking About Tragedy.


Schools will recognize the September 11 anniversary in many different ways. Some will honor the memory of those who died in low-key ways. Other teachers will engage students with lessons that challenge them to think or that help them put the events of September 11 in perspective.

This week, Education World presents Remembering September 11, which includes five new lessons to help teachers commemorate the first anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attack on the United States. Those lessons keep alive the spirit of patriotism and tolerance stimulated by the events of 9/11. We also offer below a long list of online lessons and other resources to help make classroom observances more meaningful and inspiring.

Two more resources worth noting:

  • About Our Kids [archived copy] offers resources such as a school manual with practical steps for recognizing the anniversary of September 11.

  • The National Association of School Psychologists offers Remembering September 11 [archived copy], which includes "One Year Later" tip sheets for parents, adolescents, and teachers plus a list of do's and don'ts for memorial activities at school.


  • PBS: America Responds
    PBS offers a variety of lesson plans for educators. Those plans include A World At Peace (for grades 2-6), Tolerance in Times of Trial (grades 6-12), Emergency Preparedness (grades 6-8), Taming Terrorism (grades 9-12), and more.

  • Beyond Blame: Reacting to the Terrorist Attack
    The Education Development Center created this 25-page curriculum for middle and high school students in response to concern that the terrorist attacks created a hostile climate for Arab Americans -- much like the climate Japanese Americans faced following the attack on Pearl Harbor.

  • Who Are the Arab Americans?
    Activity ideas designed to challenge student misperceptions about people of Arab descent -- from the Web site Teaching Tolerance.

  • Small Steps
    These activities from Teaching Tolerance help students examine how name calling and stereotypes advance bigotry and lead to violence and even genocide.

  • Dear Teacher: Letters on the Eve of the Japanese American Imprisonment
    A classroom lesson focused on letters sent by Japanese American middle school students to their teacher in the days following the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor.

  • Reflecting on September 11
    The Constitutional Rights Foundation has assembled a series of online lessons designed to help young people deal with terrorism, reactions to tragedy, information and disinformation, civil liberties, Islamic issues, and international law.

  • Remembrance Through Public Art
    In this lesson, students examine Maya Lin's design for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and explore public art as a way to remember history. Students plan a memorial for a public space.

  • Teaching September 11
    This lesson from PBS's Online News Hour provides classroom discussion resources for talking about the recent controversy over the 9/11 resources published for teachers on the NEA's Web site.

  • Helping America Cope
    This updated guide contains activities to help children cope with the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The guide is designed for use with children six to 12 years of age; however, many of the activities have effectively been adapted for use with older children.

  • Build a Memory
    Design/build a memorial to 9/11 in this lesson from the NEA September 11 tribute.

  • Dealing With Tragedy in the Classroom
    WNET in New York City offers these activities to help students cope with loss and learn how to talk to on another about their feelings.

    The New York Times presents this page, which provides lists of all those killed on September 11 and a National Book of Remembrance in which Americans can write their reflections about the events of September 11.

  • America Responds to Terrorism
    The Constitutional Rights Foundation has prepared online lessons, including September 11 -- How Did You Feel?, Fact Finders -- The Media During Times of Crisis, and Analyzing Rumors and Myths.

  • Understanding Stereotypes
    This lesson from teaches the ideas that assumptions can lead to stereotypes and unfair judgments about individuals and groups.

  • Lesson Plans About Terrorism
    This list from links to lessons comes from

  • Chain of Hope
    This news article from the St. Petersburg Times tells of a classroom lesson in which students created a "chain of hope." Students wrote personal messages on strips of red, white, and blue paper. They planned to send the chain to the New York City Fire Department.

  • BillyBear4Kids God Bless America Page
    For young students, this page includes a flag that young kids can color, printable flags, stationary for letter writing, bookmarks, and more. Many items include Billy Bear holding an American flag.

  • Aaron Shepherd's Reader's Theater: The War Prayer
    "The War Prayer," a short story by Mark Twain, is presented in reader's theater format on this page from Aaron Shepherd's Web site. The script is appropriate for middle and high school students.

  • Another Day That Will Live in Infamy
    In this lesson from the New York Times Learning Network, students are encouraged to share, through discussion and writing, their feelings about September 11, 2001.

  • Hooray for Heroes
    This lesson challenges students to define what a hero is and to select a hero to spotlight.

  • Culture Matters Workbook
    Teachers and students in grades eight and up can benefit from this cross-cultural training workbook. It was developed by the Peace Corps to help new volunteers acquire the knowledge and skills to work successfully and respectfully in other cultures.

  • An American Tragedy: September 11, 2001's resources include a timeline of the events of September 11, a printable map of the four hijacked airliners' routes, news and informational articles, lesson plans, and more.

  • In Congress Assembled
    This study of three perennial issues -- veterans' benefits, the national debt, and terrorism -- shows ways in which Congress responded to problems in 1785 and in recent years.

  • One Man's Freedom Fighter Is Another Man's Terrorist
    In this WebQuest, students determine the extent of the threat to the United States from terrorism, both domestically and internationally.

  • Preventing Terrorism on the Home Front
    In this lesson plan from CNN, students examine a report by the U.S. Commission on National Security in the 21st Century. They analyze the recommendations of the bipartisan commission and defend or oppose the commission's recommendations.

  • Terror on Trial
    In this lesson plan from the New York Time Learning Network, students examine the motivations, goals, and actions of terrorist countries.

  • What About You?
    Teachers might use this short story about aliens to start a classroom discussion about prejudice.

  • MidLink Magazine's Resources for Helping Students Deal with Tragedy: Lessons and Curriculum
    This page offers links to a variety of lessons.

  • Pencil Flag
    Have students create their own "remember" pencil flags.

  • USA Activities
    ABCteach offers activities and other resources. Included: September 11th Bookmarks.

  • Teaching 9/11/01: Lesson Plans and Syllabi
    Links to lesson plans for all grades, compiled by the Clarke Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Contemporary Issues (Dickinson College).

  • Global Connections: The Middle East
    PBS offers a rich collection of background articles, lesson plans, timeline, and other resources, which are indexed to help educators quickly find topics and materials that are most relevant for their classroom needs.

  • United We Stand
    Publisher Prentice Hall offers classroom lessons on understanding prejudice and students' responses to the terrorist attacks. (Click on Classroom Lessons and Resources at the bottom of the page.


  • September 11: What Our Children Need to Know
    What major lessons of September 11 should teachers introduce to their young charges? Twenty-three distinguished authors seek to provide answers to those questions and suggest how U.S. schools and educators should help students better understand this event, its precursors, and its aftermath.

  • In the Mix: The New Normal
    Resources to accompany a three-episode series of In the Mix, a weekly show for teens.

  • Muslim Students in the Classroom
    This teacher-created resource explains what Muslims believe and what to expect from the Muslim student.

  • Why Is My Loyalty Questioned?
    In this student-created Web site, parallels are drawn between how the Japanese were discriminated against in the days after the attack on Pearl Harbor and how the same thing happened to many Arab Americans in the aftermath of September 11.

  • America Responds
    Resources from PBS.

  • Children of September 11
    This children's page of the Families of September 11 Web site includes links to resources for teachers.

  • September 11 Through Children's Eyes
    A student-created Web site. The students visited New York P.S. 89, which is located a block from Ground Zero. The site shares their interviews with students and teachers and more.

  • 100 Questions and Answers About Arab Americans
    Detroit has the largest population of Arab Americans in the United States, so it is fitting that this resource comes from the Detroit Free Press.

  • A Brief Illustrated Guide to Understanding Islam, Muslims, and the Koran
    This Islamic guide for non-Muslims is rich in information, references, bibliography, and illustrations.

  • Life After 9/11
    Special reports from the PBS Online News Hour with Jim Lehrer.

  • Scholars of Islam and the Tragedy of September 11
    This Web page is produced through the cooperation of more than 50 professors of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies.

  • Global Connections
    This resource from Boston's PBS station, WGBH, offers a timeline of Middle Eastern history and resources for responding to six big-issue questions.

  • America Rebuilds
    A resource from PBS that documents the cleanup of the WTC site and planning for the future.

  • Why the Towers Fell
    This companion Web site to a NOVA (PBS) episode follows a team of forensic engineers during their in-depth investigation of the precise causes of the Twin Towers' collapse.

  • Heroes of Ground Zero
    This is the companion Web site to a WNET program that presents a candid account of the firefighters in two New York City firehouses as they struggle to cope in the aftermath of the tragedy.

9/11 2001: The Day that Changed America

Lesson Plans

In this Scholastic report, you'll find dozens of informative and poignant stories divided into five topical sections: A Day for Reflection; Kids Make a Difference; A Nation Recovers; What's Next for America?; and A Time for Tolerance.

In the following Lesson Plans, we provide suggestions for using each of those sections in your classroom. We hope you will join our returning teachers in using these discussion starters, activities, and ready-to-print reproducibles as a curriculum "tour guide" for the online news stories. For more teacher tips on current events, check out Scholastic News online.

You'll note that the Teacher Tips for this issue are grade-specific (click on our lesson plans for grades 3–4, 5–6, and 7–8). With a topic as complex and emotional as the one-year anniversary of 9/11, we felt that age-appropriateness was especially crucial. Also, be sure to check out the offerings for each grade level. You may find that you can easily adapt the ideas and activities for use in your class.

For lesson ideas for PreK–2, check out our

Activities for Younger Children

Lesson Plans for 3–4

Lesson Plans for 5–6

Lesson Plans for 7–8
Hooray for Heroes Theme Unit
The Star-Spangled Banner
Design the Future

How Do You Teach About 9/11?

Tyler Hicks/The New York Times Go to related Sept. 11, 2001, Times Topics page

We need your help.

Have you taught about Sept. 11 and its repercussions? Do you plan to address the 10th anniversary of the attacks this September? How? Does your school, district, state or country have a suggested curriculum? What questions, in general, does teaching this topic raise for you?

We’ll be writing regularly about the subject as the anniversary approaches, and we’re hoping that one part of our collection will include your ideas, reflections and experiences.

So whether you’re planning a one-day lesson or a year-long inquiry, please give us a short summary of what you you’ll do — or have done — and why. We’d like to publish contributions from teachers at every level and across subject areas.

Meanwhile, we’re also beginning to sort through the vast resources of The Times to create a Teaching Topics page on 9/11. Are there articles, opinion pieces, multimedia, lesson plans or other materials from The Times that you’ve used and think we should include? Are there other ways we can help? For instance, is there a Student Opinion question you’d like to see us ask around this topic? Let us know.

9-11 10th Anniversary Website Set Up To Remember, Thank, Embrace, Support

Website launched to raise awareness and funds for first responders and victims$16482

March 2, 2011 -- San Diego, CA -- The 9-11 Tenth Anniversary Project has launched a donation-based website to raise awareness and funds for the first responders and victims lost on the tragic day in world history, September 11, 2001:

The site features areas where visitors can share, reflect and discuss, including: Share Your Story, Photo Tour, History, 9-11 related links and a Tribute Store to benefit the 9-11 Patch Project, founded by a firefighter to benefit The FDNY Uniformed Officers Association, Terry Farrell Fund and the Feel Good Foundation. The goal is to raise $911,911 for the three foundations mentioned above.

The 9-11 Tenth Anniversary Project is asking businesses and all Americans to embrace this program and wear the anniversary patches or wristbands, and display the flags to show support and keep the memory of those lost alive.

For more information, please visit and learn about the program and ways to be involved, from sharing thoughts to becoming the promotional partner.

Remember, thank, and embrace 9-11 victims, their families, first responders and heroes.

'Helping those who helped others'

10th Anniversary 911: Publishers Plan Low Key Approach

NEW YORK — The book world plans a low-key remembrance of the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Most of the works about the events will be reissues and updates of older works, from CBS News' "What We Saw" to Noam Chomsky's word-of-mouth best-seller "9/11." The output will not compare to the first anniversary, in 2002, when publishers released dozens of works and soon regretted it.

"A lot of the early books were rush jobs. There was so little perspective at the time," says Mark Tavani, executive editor of Ballantine Books, an imprint of Random House Inc.

"Publishers are being more careful now and that's a wise decision," says Patricia Bostelman, vice president of marketing for Barnes & Noble, Inc., which plans small table displays for Sept. 11 books. "The books being published now seem to have a real sense of purpose – preserving the memory and celebrating the heroes."

Tavani and other publishers say they were careful about which books, if any, to take on. They're skeptical about how many readers will be interested and whether they will be criticized for exploiting a tragedy. At Henry Holt and Company, publisher Stephen Rubin said he saw few proposals for 9/11 books because "people were worried about being in bad taste."

Holt will reissue two books: "Counterstrike," by Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker; and "102 Minutes," by Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn." Rubin also signed up a new release, "Unmeasured Strength," a memoir by 9/11 survivor Lauren Manning, whose body was severely burned by the attacks.

"I never intended to do a 9/11 book, but when I met with Lauren Manning, I felt like I had to this one," Rubin says. "It's a real honest to God book. It's not a picture book, not a memento. It's a raw, raw story."

The attacks and what led up to them have been chronicled thoroughly in the past decade, with a handful of books regarded as essential reading, including Steve Coll's "Ghost Wars" and Lawrence Wright's "The Looming Tower." The federal government produced one of the most widely read texts: "The 9/11 Commission Report," a surprise best-seller in 2004 that sold more than 1 million copies despite being available as a free download.

W.W. Norton, which released the authoritative edition of the 9/11 study, will reissue it this fall, with an update from commission executive director Philip Zelikow on the status of the report's recommendations. The publisher hopes to make news with "The Black Banners," by former FBI agent Ali H. Soufan, who interrogated numerous suspected terrorists and has criticized waterboarding and other harsh techniques.

9-11 Lessons and Links: 10th Anniversary Ideas

 by Alan Haskvitz –

Voted 100 Most Important Educators in the World

for more resources go to

 From Time Magazine:

What my students did on 9/11

 9/11 Commemorations and Information

Get information about memorials, exhibits, and other means of remembering those who were killed or injured on September 11, 2001.

Videos about 9/11

Teaching about Patriotism

 A large link site with lessons and more


A free teaching booklet

 The best sites to teach about 9/11

 9/11 Memorial Site

Photos and information

 Lessons about terrorism

These are on terrorism.

 Links and a poem

The Seven Habits of Highly Ineffective Terrorists

For older students

Time Magazine Photos


Discussion Questions, Small Group Activities, and Writing Assignments
By Laura Greenwald, Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies

This lesson plan serves as a basis for discussion and reflection on the five-year anniversary of September 11, 2001. It consists of four parts which can be used separately or together:

  • How has America Changed? Students will be presented with discussion questions that encourage an exchange of views on the impact of 9-11 on America.

  • The Gettysburg Address: The group activity focuses on the symbolic and historic importance of the Gettysburg Address, which will be read during the anniversary ceremony.

  • Writing a letter to the future: In addition, students will express in writing their feelings about 9-11, the war on terrorism, and implications for future generations.

  • NewsHour with Jim Lehrer Conversations: Students will analyze The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer interviews related to the commemoration of 9-11. The goal of this lesson plan is to develop students' critical thinking skills with an emphasis on comparing and contrasting viewpoints, summarizing main ideas, understanding attitudes, note-taking, forming opinions, supporting an argument, and drawing inferences.

Depending on the size of your class, students may work in small groups of three or four before the class joins together in a larger discussion. Each student should receive a handout with the discussion questions and group activity. First, place students in small discussion groups so they can become familiar with the issues and develop their opinions. Students should write short answers to the discussion questions based on the small group interaction. Then, join the class together for a larger discussion.

Discussion Questions

1. Describe your immediate reaction to September 11 on the day of the attacks. Where were you on September 11?

2. How has September 11 impacted your life and your community? Do you think America is more or less vulnerable now? Explain.

3. How should future generations be educated about September 11? In your opinion, will Americans' perceptions of the attacks change as time passes?

4. How has September 11 impacted American culture? For example, how have movies and TV programs been affected? Do you think movies and TV programs should emphasize more patriotic themes? Explain.

5. How best can Americans commemorate September 11? Should September 11 be a national holiday? Why or why not?

6. Where did you get the news on September 11 -- from cable news, network news, newspapers, and/or magazines? Evaluate media coverage of September 11 and the war on terrorism.

Small Group Activity - The Gettysburg Address


Inform the students that the Gettysburg Address will be read at the September 11 anniversary ceremony. Provide students with historical background on the Gettysburg Address (recommended site: PBS' The American President). Place students in small groups and ask them to read the Gettysburg Address together. Tell them to discuss its main themes with their partner(s). Ask students to list at least four reasons why they think the Gettysburg Address is appropriate for the September 11 ceremony. Students can make comparisons about the state of mind of Americans during the Civil War and five years after the September 11 attacks.

Homework Assignment - Writing a Letter

Ask students to think about how future generations will be educated about September 11. For homework, students should imagine that they are writing a letter to their grandchildren. Tell them to describe how September 11 impacted their generation. What would they tell future generations about September 11? In a one-page letter, students should describe their feelings about September 11, the war on terrorism, and the national mood five years after the tragedies. Students may share their letters with other students in the "Sept. 11, Five Years Later" discussion at between August 28 and September 25, 2006. You may encourage your students to participate in this forum, powered by content from the Online NewsHour.

Viewing Activity for NewsHour interviews - How Has America Changed?

Beginning on September 3, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer will run a series of discussions with artists, writers, teachers and other thinkers about how America has changed since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 (click here for archived conversations). Teachers can tape the discussions and play them in class. Using the worksheet, students will compare and contrast the NewsHour guests' opinions on the impact of 9-11 on American society, lessons learned, and whether we are winning the war on terrorism.

Note-taking skills: For each interview, students should summarize the NewsHour guest's views on the following topics:

· Personal experience -- how 9-11 changed their lives
· Impact of 9-11 on American society and culture
· Lessons learned since 9-11
· Vulnerability of America
· Freedom in America
· Tolerance in America
· The importance of institutions -- government, military, religious, etc…
· Effects of war on terrorism on American democracy?
· Are we winning the war on terrorism?

After viewing the interviews, lead a class discussion on the main themes of each interview referring to the topic list. In addition to summarizing the views of the NewsHour guests, students should also be encouraged to express their own views.

Writing assignment:
Students will write an essay addressing the question "How has America changed since September 11?" Students should incorporate into their essays the views of NewsHour guests through comparison and contrast of perspectives on the impact of September 11 on American society. They can turn in their essays for possible publication on NewsHour Extra at [] or they share their essays with other students in the "Sept. 11, Five Years Later" discussion at between August 28 and September 25, 2006. You may encourage your students to participate in this forum, powered by content from the Online NewsHour.

Author Laura Greenwald teaches English for International Relations at the Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, DC. She has a Master's Degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from the Monterey Institute of International Studies and a Master's Degree in International Relations from Johns Hopkins University SAIS. She has a B.A. in International Relations from Johns Hopkins University.


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