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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Remembering 9/11 with students who weren't even alive yet...

     Since July, I have been thinking about how to mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11 with my students.  They are only 8 years old, and they have not idea of the way the world stopped that day for so many of us.  Besides that, they are still too young to be exposed to many of the details of the day.  However, for myself, I knew I couldn't just ignore the day.

     Last weekend, I was reading an article in the paper that mentioned the total number of people lost that day.  I thought that that was what I wanted to have my kids realize--the number of people lost that day.  So...after a great brainstorming session with my fellow 3rd grade teachers, we made a plan of how to show our students the nearly 3000 people lost that day.

    What we did was this...We divided the number of people who died that day by our students and teachers.  Each student would then be responsible for coming up with a set number of positive, patriotic words.  (For our students, it was 25 a piece.)  We helped the students generate their lists by listening to patriotic music, reading patriotic books, watching the Brainpop 9/11 video, books about 9/11 like The Little Chapel that Stood...

     Finally, we had the students write their words onto two tall "towers" of roll paper.  Kids were assigned a color to write in, and we had a key to show that the colors helped to show the number who died in NYC, the Pentagon, Shanksville, and Emergency Personnel.  The towers were filled with patriotic words (brave, liberty, freedom, heroes were commonly used). 

     Our fabulous PE teachers let us hang these huge papers in the gym so that all kids would be able to see them.  Our custodian helped us to hang them because they were so big.  It was unbelievable even to us teachers as to how full these towers were with words.  We hope that our kids have a better understanding of the impact that this event had on our country, and how the events of that day united us as Americans.

     I have pictures of our towers, but they are at school.  I will post them later.  I think they were a very appropriate way for us to present this event to our young students, and I hope that it made an impact on them.  It certainly made an impact on me.


RainbowsWithinReach said...

I have 'discovered' your blog as a result of the link-up begun by Sunny Days. I am so moved by your most original response with your students and I look forward to seeing the pictures of the end result. Thannk you for sharing such an amazing project. Both sensitive, appropriate and educational -- all at the same time.

My connection to the link-up is that I am author & illustrator of the picture book, "Red, White and Blue" which is based on the song I wrote right after 9-11. The lyrics of the song become the text of the book. It is new & this is its 'first' season of 9-11 observations. I'm so grateful to hear from teachers who are finding it a valuable resource for their classrooms & schools. I am creating a collection of suggestions and I will add your project as another possibility.

The creativity you displayed is really to be commended.

Debbie Clement

SunnyDays said...

Wow - what a powerful, well thought out and very memorable experience. I'd love to see a picture of your towers! That just sounds amazing.
Thank you so much for sharing and for linking up!

Sunny Days In Second Grade

RainbowsWithinReach said...

Seeing the pictures of the work is indeed amazing!!!! Thank you for sharing the project, now for us in a visual format. It makes it all the more powerful. I have added the pictures to my blog post of this morning & I will also 'pin' them to my Pinterest collection, "Red, White and Blue."

Hilary Lewis said...

Thank you for sharing. What a fabulous idea...teaching children who weren't even born was surely challenging! Next year...I am so copying! Thanks again!

Missy Kennedy said...

What a beautiful tribute and learning experience! I am posting a link to your blog on my blog so others can be inspired by your work.

The Kennedy Korral Blog

Meghan Mayhew said...

What a touching tribute! Thank you for sharing.