I remember it like it was yesterday, in my first year of teaching–1st graders. It was extra eerie on this anniversary as that morning was very much like it was today: bright, cool, and with promise of exciting things to come. Who knew what tragic events would unfold as I was driving to work that morning? And while you and I have memories of that fateful day, our friends do not.
This is the first class I have where most of my kiddos (well, all but 2!) were not even born on September 11, 2001. Everything they know about September 11, 2001 is from stories, TV, books, etc. And I wonder if even the stories they’ve heard are true, or if they’re more based on bias and opinion–intentional or not.
So how do you deal with a major topic in their history in a way that both makes sense and doesn’t scare them? How do you share truth in an appropriate way for a 10- or 11-year-old?
I decided to tackle the anniversary first in Writer’s Workshop. First we read Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey, and then talked about what we were thinking. We used this as an opportunity to both teach a strategy for writing (responding to literature and what’s going on in the world around us) as well to work through their thoughts and feelings of the day. Everyone wrote entries about what they knew about 9/11 or what they were wondering.
Later we took some time to watch a news segment made just for kids. It was from Nick News and was called What Happened?: The Story of September 11th. It did a super job of explaining what actually happened as well as addressing questions that many kids have about that day. They went back to the entries they wrote earlier in the day and listened for answers, or to add information they wanted to remember. Hopefully your student came home talking about it, and you were able to have a discussion with them about it, too.
Let’s help them learn, so that they, too, can remember. 🙂