Let’s be honest…it is no small task to teach students about September 11, 2001 without scaring them, becoming too political, or burdening them with unnecessary details. Regardless, I still feel that this day in U.S. history is one that can be sensitively discussed with children. So, I decided to take this topic on in my own classroom last year. Although my fourth graders were not alive when 9/11 happened, they were deeply curious and interested as we explored the events surrounding September 11th together. I wanted to share what we did that made this unit so successful in hopes that you might be inspired to tackle this topic in your own classroom.
To begin, I wrote September 11, 2001 on the board and held a class discussion to see what students knew about that particular date. Most of them were pretty clueless, but a few knew something vague about planes crashing.
From there, I passed out a text about Sept. 11th for students to read. I specifically chose a text that was complex, because I knew we were going to revisit it a couple of times. After they read the text, I asked the students text dependent questions and modeled how to code the text for specific things-main idea, key details, unknown words and confusing parts. I also had them talk to each other as we discussed the most important events of September 11th.
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Here is a video that we watched as well…