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Honoring September 11th in Your Classroom

How do you remember the events of September 11th in your classroom?

I wasn't always sure how to approach such a sensitive subject…

During the summer of 2002 (the summer after the events at the World Trade Center on September 11th) I taught summer school at a school in Brooklyn. On my first day, my cooperating teacher told me how the towers were visible right from the classroom window where we were standing.

I was still in college, getting ready for my senior year, and had never thought of how to approach such a sensitive subject with my students.

That summer, we stuck to the summer school curriculum and I enjoyed exploring NYC. While the terror of September 11th was ever present in that classroom, it was never a topic that we discussed.  The teacher assured me that counselors were available for students throughout the school year.

Fast forward to 2005, when I first had my own classroom…I was a new teacher and the events of September 11th still felt new and fresh to me.  In Western New York, the school year begins in early September.  I was just getting to know my students and finding my way as a new teacher. I was unsure how to approach the topic with my students; so we honored a moment of silence that came over the announcements and continued with our regularly scheduled day.

I thought that my fourth graders were too young to understand, I didn't know how to discuss such a sensitive topic, I was worried about parent phone calls…I had so many thoughts for such a big topic.

Now, years later I realize that as events occur we must help our students express themselves and also be there to answer their questions.  September 11, 2001 is a part of our history, just as other historical events that fall in our curriculum.

There have been many trying times recently and as teachers we have the opportunity to help students navigate through their questions, feelings, and confusion.

A book that I enjoy reading with students as a remembrance of Septmeber 11th is “Fireboat” by Maira Kalman. It is a wonderful book to spark a discussion about how heroes rise during times of tragedy.

I always turn to a good book to help guide a difficult discussion and this book is a great way to show students the good that can come during hard times.

To discuss the heroes during the events of September 11th, I have the students create a newspaper and write about three “heroes among us” and do an illustration.

You can subscribe below for this free activity to remember September 11th.  You do not need the book to complete the activity! There is a letter to parents to explain you will be discussing the topic and there are also letters to create a display of student work.

Related books to share:

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers

14 Cows for America

America is Under Attack, The Day the Towers Fell

Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story

Towers Falling

September 12th: We Knew Everything Would Be All Right


*Please note that this post does contain affiliate links and by purchasing items through these links, I do receive a small commission.*

Happy Teaching!

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