(Pictured: Mrs. McDonnough's class from South Central Elementary with their "Never Forget" chain.)
South Central Elementary School third graders took time to acknowledge 9/11 by making a "Never Forget" chain. Click through the photo gallery below for some pictures of the students from two third grade classrooms making and assembling the chains.
Canonsburg Middle School had a "theme day" where students wore Red, White and Blue to honor the day. Also the Spartans in Mrs. Schmitt's class read about the brave heroes during the 9/11 tragedy in the book Above Hollowed Ground (pictured below). They also wrote about them in honor and remembrance. (Also pictured below from Mrs. Schmitt's class.)
Canon-McMillan Senior High School read an announcement over the loudspeaker when the first tower was hit. They also paused for twenty seconds with bells being rung every second by a member of the Big Mac Marching band. In addition, history teachers at the high school honored the day in their own way. This is the first year that their students will not have been alive during the event.
- Mrs. Taylor Rush, US history 1890-present, 10th Grade and Contemporary American Democracy, 12th Grade (switches between years):
“It all depends on the grade level that I am teaching. The seniors normally know more about the topic and are very interested in learning more about that fateful day. For the seniors, after giving them a short background, I show "The Man In The Red Bandana" from Sports Center. The students are fascinated by this story and it gives them a different perspective on the day than what they have previously been taught. I have them answer questions like:
Civic Responsibility: is defined as the "responsibility of a citizen." It consists of actions and attitudes associated with democratic governance and social participation.
Citizenship means "a productive, responsible, caring, and contributing member of society." What is the responsibility of those in government positions during times like 9/11? (Make inferences, THINK!)
We expect our leaders and government officials to take a leadership role. BUT what can we expect from a private citizen? Can we expect all citizens to act like Welles Crowther? What can we expect? What should we expect?
For 10th grade (which is US History), we go a little deeper and do a gallery walk of events leading up to 9/11 so that they can better understand the WHAT, HOW, WHY, WHO. Student's seem to be interested. The students can see exactly what happened. Two years ago, I actually had 10th graders go around and ask teachers or staff what they remember from that day. This was something they really enjoyed.”
- Mr. Jason Dill, U.S. History, 10th Grade:
“When I first started teaching 9/11 I would start the lesson by asking the kids where they were when it occurred. But 20 years later, my students weren’t even born. So before we begin the lesson, I have them interview someone that was old enough to remember and we share and discuss those interviews in class. I find that students have some to moderate knowledge of the events (mostly learned from previous school years or TV documentaries). So I start with the basics and then get into the ideology of why we were attacked. I do show images but always warn the students ahead of time as to the nature of the video or pictures. I've had a student in the past whose family knew a victim working in World Trade Center 1. Overall, I feel like more students prefer learning about 9/11 than any other major war we study. I'm not sure why but if I had to guess, I'd say it's most recent and there is more media coverage with the 9/11 attacks.”
- Mr. Scott Drakeley, U.S. History Honors, 9th Grade:
“I teach U.S. 9 History Honors and have been doing so for the past 10 years exclusively (I taught a mix of other classes my first few years in the district.) The 9th grade curriculum focuses on early American history, beginning with the era of exploration and colonization and finishing up with Reconstruction. I like to tell the kids it is our "origin story"! But as the last several years has proven, events happening in our present have their roots in our past. For our generation, there may be no better example than the events of 9/11/01. Even in a course that focuses on our "past", I have always devoted September 11th (or a Friday or Monday if it falls on a weekend) to discussing the events of that tragic day. As the years have gone on, it truly has become "history" for my students, as they have now all been born after 2001. When I started my teaching career in 2005, it was easy; we would share our memories. I would simply ask "where were you...?" and the conversation would follow from there. But obviously as time has gone by, I've had to alter that approach, but I have always remained most interested in the stories from that day. So here is how we approach 9/11 in my classroom currently.
I do not tell them that we will be focusing on the events from 9/11 prior to class (again, in an early American history class that is just starting into the Colonies at that time of the year, I take this opportunity to shift the conversation to something more "current".) I will simply tell them the day before that we will be doing something "a little different" for our next class. On the day we focus on 9/11, I start by showing them a compilation of clips from the news coverage of that morning, but I frame it as even though they may have learned about 9/11 before, or perhaps viewed some of the same images as they will see in the clip, I want them to have the opportunity to experience that morning the way we all did, as it unfolded. The clips follow the events as they happened in "real time", allowing the students to get an idea of what that morning might have been like had they been alive. Prior to viewing, I give a disclaimer that some of the images or sounds might be upsetting, and although none are inappropriate, I give them permission to not view the clips. After viewing the clips, we will debrief. I will allow them space to comment, ask questions, or just silently reflect. This exercise tends to be very powerful and usually lasts about 20 minutes.
I transition from the clip into an explanation of their 9/11 Home Interview Project. I set the project up by telling them that I am not interested in teaching them about the facts of what happened that day, rather, I am much more interested in the stories. I explain that although they do not have memories from that day (because they weren't even born yet!), they still had the ability to share someone else's story. That's the basic idea behind the 9/11 Project; interview someone who was alive during that fateful day and talk to them about their memories, their story. I give them a generic framework to start with (suggesting they interview someone who was probably at least in high school in 2001; choosing someone they feel comfortable having this conversation with and asking their permission to interview them, due to the potential sensitive nature of the topic; starting them off with a few basic questions, but also explaining they should be coming up with their own) but explain that the goal is to sit down with someone and talk about that day; and that it should not be a 3 question conversation that lasts approximately 2 minutes! Aside from a few generic guidelines, I really try to give the students the creative flexibility to complete the project to their liking, rather than having to follow a strict rubric. They are permitted to write up or type out a list of questions and answers, much like you see in a published article. They can choose to present it as more of a narrative style if they prefer. Or they don't have to write anything; they have the option to either audio record (like a podcast) or video record (like Oprah style!) The project is what really allows the kids to explore the story of 9/11 in a way they might not have up to that point. I have several students every year comment on how meaningful, how powerful their conversation was with their parent or grandparent, aunt or uncle, neighbor or family friend. It is so awesome to see how much students are able to get out of the project, especially given that it occurs so early in the school calendar. And their interviews are AWESOME! Every year it takes me longer than I'd like to admit to grade all of them, simply because I get wrapped up in all of the powerful stories. One of the best things I can say about the project is that, not only does it introduce such a significant day in American history to our students, allowing them to explore in a way they previously haven't, but it also allows me to continually learn about it from all different perspectives year in and year out.”