2006 Anniversary of the September 11th Tragedy


The second Monday in September marks the fifth anniversary of the tragic September 11th terrorist attacks on America. Schools throughout California will be marking the event with classroom discussions and sometimes a school-wide moment of silence. In order to create a meaningful learning experience around this tragedy, it is important to connect this anniversary to the ongoing history-social science curriculum, especially to world history, modern U.S. history, and civics. Linking Constitution Day, observed on September 18th to the September 11th commemoration works well to emphasize the importance and fragility of freedom, especially in times of crisis. It is important to select resources and materials that are creditable and balanced in dealing with issues as emotionally charged as 9-11 is. The following websites are sources for accurate information and lesson activities that support critical thinking and civic engagement. They will be most valuable in the middle and high school classroom.

Margaret ‘Peg’ Hill, Ph.D.
Director SCORE H-SS

September 11, 2001: Attack on America
This Yale Law School site has a database of important documents and primary photos from that fateful day. These can be used to reconstruct the order of events and the feelings they engendered at the time.

Constitutional Rights Foundation Materials
CRF has done an excellent job of assembling a set of materials that support classroom instruction about various aspects of the September 11th tragedy. This material is divided into three subcategories including:
0. America Responds to Terrorism — Research links and resources
0. Foundations of Our Constitution — Readings and activities exploring origins of American democracy
0. Fostering Diversity — Readings, activities, project plans and ideas designed to support school and community diversity

September 11: Commemorating America's Civic Values
2006 marks the fifth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States. You and your students can commemorate the day with this lesson that focuses on the civic values, which enabled the American people to respond--as individuals and as a society--to those horrific events.

Defining Terrorism and Selecting the Right Response Policy
This lesson poses the question “What is a terrorist?” for class discussion. Then students explore the debate over legitimate and illegitimate uses of force and the distinction between terrorists and freedom fighters. They then examine a framework for analyzing political violence and terrorism, apply this framework to historical and contemporary case studies, and develop a working definition of terrorism. With this definition in mind, students role-play four policy options and then write an essay expressing their views.

Drawing the Line at Freedom? Exploring Ways in Which the Rules of Democracy Have Changed in an Age of Terrorism
In this New York Times lesson, students explore civil liberties as they relate to the events of September 11, 2001 and the months that followed. They then discuss how these circumstances may or may not have altered the rights of American citizens and foreigners visiting the United States.

Exhibiting Memory - Creating Personal Commemorations of September 11
In this New York Times lesson, students learn about the challenges in creating commemorative museum exhibits of September 11, 2001. Then, using personal objects connected with their own experiences, students create a commemorative exhibit in their classroom.

Faulty Powers? Examining the Ways in Which American Presidents Have Accepted Responsibility For Major Events in Modern History
In this New York Times lesson, students learn about the White House response to Richard A. Clarke's testimony and apology to the commission investigating the events of September 11, 2001. They then examine and compare several other examples of executive response to major events, including the 1983 terrorist attack on marines in Lebanon, the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Field of Inquiry Examining the Investigations Into the Events of September 11, 2001
In this New York Times lesson, students learn about German intelligence data used in an independent commission's investigation into the events of September 11, 2001. They then research the various political bodies, intelligence agencies, terrorist networks, and geographic locations connected to the events of September 11, 2001 to create a guide to understanding the investigations.

Remembering September 11
This Education World site offers ideas and lessons for commemorating September 11 in classrooms at the elementary and middle school levels. Lessons include making a huge flag mural for the school or a proverb book for the classroom library, writing letters to fire fighters in your community, holding read-alouds of books that model tolerance, and raising money for Afghan children.

9-11 Digital Archive
Sponsored by the Center for History & New Media at George Mason University and the American Social History Project/Center for Media & Learning at CUNY, this site features a large digital archive of individual stories about the September 11th tragedy.

Helping Students Understand the Long-Term Implications of the events of September 11, 2001 and its Aftermath
This Educators for Social Responsibility site looks at discrimination and even hate crimes that arose after 9-11, how to teach about different perspectives on the events and aftermath of September 11, and how to teach about Afghanistan and its history.

Lessons of 9-11
This Facing History and Ourselves site has a series of readings a bout issues that emerge from the September 11 events.