Another Day That Will Live in Infamy
Presented by The Historical Voices Educator's Web
Helping Students Explore Their Feelings and the Facts about the Terrorist Attacks in the United States on September 11,2001
- Grades:6-8, 9-12
- Subjects:American History, Current Events, Language Arts, Social Studies
Overview of Lesson Plan: In the wake of the September 11, 2001 acts of terrorism in the United States, students are encouraged to share, through discussion and writing, their feelings about these and other acts of terrorism, as well as related issues such as national security and media coverage of the attacks.
Review the Academic Content Standards related to this lesson
McREL is the Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning in Aurora, Colorado, a site that provides K-12 academic standards. Achieve is a site that addresses the academic standards of over 40 states.
Suggested Time Allowance:These materials provide many opportunities for an enriched single lesson or for several extended lesson/activities or units.
- Respond in a free-writing exercise to the acts of terrorism that took place in the United States on September 11, 2001.
- Listen to President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Address to Congress, December 8, 1941.
- Examine the New York Times report on these attacks by reading and discussing "Hijacked Jets Destroy Twin Towers and Hit Pentagon."
- Explore, in round-table discussion format, students' reactions to the attacks, as well as related issues such as national security, government reactions, and media coverage.
- Synthesize their feelings and ideas about the September 11,2001 terrorist acts by writing a reflective journal entry.
Resources and Materials
- student journals
- classroom board
- copies of "Hijacked Jets Destroy Twin Towers and Hit Pentagon" (one per student)
- President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Address to Congress on December 8, 1941
Activities and Procedures
In the first five to ten minutes of class, students free-write about the acts of terrorism that took place in the United States on September 11, 2001. Students should be encouraged to write about whatever aspect of the attacks that they wish (where they were when they found out about the plane crashes and other events, views on terrorism in general, how the United States should react, etc.) Students should then share their responses.
As a class, listen to and discuss President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Address to Congress on December 8, 1941.
As a class, read and discuss "Hijacked Jets Destroy Twin Towers and Hit Pentagon," focusing on the following questions:
- What timeline of events is detailed in this article with regard to the terrorist acts that occurred in the eastern United States on September 11, 2001?
- How did New York leaders respond to the attacks?
- How did President Bush and other United States officials respond?
- How did people in other countries respond?
- Why are the attacks being compared to the bombing of Pearl Harbor?
- What witness accounts are offered? How do their voices impact this article?
- How was the infrastructure of New York City affected by the attacks?
- What is still not known about the terrorist attacks?
In round-table discussion format, allow students to discuss their reactions to the terrorist acts committed against the United States on September 11,2001, as well as the possible causes, effects and repercussions of such actions. It may be helpful to include your school's guidance counselor in this discussion. Though the discussion will most likely be easily driven by student comments, some guiding questions are offered below.
- Where were you when you learned about the terrorist attack?
- What were your initial thoughts and reactions?
- How did they change as different events unfolded and more information was known?
- How should the federal government react, since a terrorist group, not a country, planned and executed these attacks?
- How do you think the media covered the attacks, speculations and other aspects of the day's events?
- Do you feel that the United States government takes adequate measures to protect the country and its citizens from terrorist attacks? How might those measures change in the wake of the September 11, 2001 occurrence?
- How are you personally affected by these events?
Assign students a journal writing exercise in which they simply reflect on the class discussion and to news coverage of the terrorist attacks. Allow students the opportunity to voice whatever they wish about the attacks, their causes and effects. Emphasize to students that their work will not be shown to anyone but the teacher, so they should feel comfortable in expressing their feelings freely.
Further Questions for Discussion
- Who is a terrorist?
- What kinds of acts are considered terrorist acts? What is the difference between a terrorist act and a crime that is of a similar nature?
- How do you think terrorists should be punished for their actions? Who should punish them?
- How does the media portray terrorists and terrorism, both on the news and in movies? Do you think these are accurate depictions? Why or why not?
- What organizations are responsible for air safety in the United States? How do you think it is possible that the hijackers were able to board the airplanes involved in these terrorist acts? How do you think air safety will now change in response to these acts?
- When else in American history have terrorist attacks occurred? How are they similar to the September 11,2001 attacks? How do they differ?
- What stereotypes come to mind when you hear the term "terrorist"? From where do these stereotypes come?
Evaluation / Assessment
Students will be evaluated based on journal responses and participation in class discussions.
perished, aftermath, calamity, audacious, gorged, hijacked, inhalation, smoldering, carnage, carcasses, evacuated, despicable, harbored, repercussions, solidarity, soot, unadorned, renown, plumed, thronging, armada, commissioners, retaliatory, embassies
- Create a timeline following the news coverage of these acts of terrorism. Trace facts as they unfold, public and official reactions in the United States and overseas, and ways in which these acts have changed the United States.
- Investigate the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Compare the first New York Times article covering the 1993 terrorist act ( Blast Hits Trade Center, Bomb Suspected; 5 Killed, Thousands Flee Smoke in Towers) to the first New York Times article covering the 2001 act. What similarities and differences exist in the reporting of these acts? Why was the World Trade Center a target in each attack? What lessons were learned in the 1993 attack? What lessons do you think will be learned from the 2001 attack?
- Research known terrorist organizations around the world. What is the mission of each? When was it formed? Who are its leaders? What attacks have they executed, either successfully or unsuccessfully? What organizations monitor these organizations, and how?
- Many people in the news media who reported on these attacks compared them to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. What is accurate about this comparison? What is inaccurate? Write a report comparing and contrasting this terrorist attack to the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
- Britannica.com defines terrorism as "the systematic use of terror or unpredictable violence against governments, publics, or individuals to attain a political objective." Create an illustrated timeline of terrorism throughout history (possible examples could be found in ancient Rome, revolutionary France, post-Civil War United States, Germany in the 1960's and 70's, and other recent examples).
- Where were you when you first heard of these acts of terrorism? What information did you hear, and from whom? How did you and people around you react? What other major events have taken place during your life so far, for which you remember these details? What events might your parents and grandparents list?
- There is speculation that the terrorist acts that took place on September 11,2001 are related to current events in and United Statesí support of Israel. Why has this association been made? How might these events be related? Is this relationship justified? Explore reactions to the acts of terrorism in the Middle East by finding newspaper reports and official statements issued in various countries and by different groups.
Civics - Research your country's official policy on terrorism. What, according to the United States State Department, should be done in the case of a hostage crisis, for example? Create a guide explaining such policies.
Fine Arts - Create a collage of magazine and newspaper photographs illustrating the effects of terrorism around the world. Try to include pictures from each continent.
Health - Discuss issues of grieving and dealing with emotional trauma. Explore related organizations in your area that can help people in your community and create a guide to those organizations for your school's counseling center.
Mathematics - Using United States State Department figures, trace the number of incidents of international terrorism reported in the past decade. Create a graph to illustrate the differences among the years, and analyze the causes and effects of these results. -Conduct a survey in your community to gauge local reaction to the acts of terrorism that took place on September 11,2001. You might use the questions posed in the lesson to guide your survey.
Other Information on the Web
Response to Terrorism http://www.state.gov/s/ct// is a publication from the U.S. Department of State.
U.S. State Department Counterterrorism Office http://www.state.gov/www/global/terrorism/ includes issues in the news, Patterns of Global Terrorism annual reports, archives, and more.
State Department Report on Global Terrorism http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/pgtrpt/2000/ provides a year-long overview of 2000, overviews for different regions of the world, and lists of incidents.
Academic Content Standards
This lesson plan may be used to address the academic standards listed below. These standards are drawn from Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education: 2nd Edition and have been provided courtesy of the Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning in Aurora, Colorado.
In addition, this lesson plan may be used to address the academic standards of a specific state. Links are provided where available from each McREL standard to the Achieve website containing state standards for over 40 states. The state standards are from Achieve's National Standards Clearinghouse and have been provided courtesy of Achieve, Inc. in Cambridge Massachusetts and Washington, DC.
- World History Standard 44- Understands the search for community, stability, and peace in an interdependent world. Benchmarks: Understands influences on economic development around the world; Understands instances of political conflict and terrorism in modem society; Understands the emergence of a global culture.
- Geography Standard 13- Understands the forces of cooperation and conflict that shape the divisions of Earth's surface. Benchmarks: Understands factors that contribute to cooperation or conflict; Knows the social, political, and economic divisions on Earth's surface at the local, state, national, and international levels; Understands the factors that affect the cohesiveness and integration of countries.
- Language Arts Standard 1- Demonstrates competence in the general skills and strategies of the writing process. Benchmark: Writes compositions that speculate on problems/solutions.
- Language Arts Standard 8- Demonstrates competence in speaking and listening as tools for learning. Benchmarks: Plays a variety of roles in group discussions; Asks questions to seek elaboration and clarification of ideas; Listens in order to understand a speaker's topic, purpose, and perspective
- World History Standard 44- Understands the search for community, stability, and peace in an interdependent world. Benchmarks: Understands rates of economic development and the emergence of different economic systems around the globe; Understands the role of political ideology, religion, and ethnicity in shaping modem governments; Understands the role of ethnicity, cultural identity, and religious beliefs in shaping economic and political conflicts across the globe.
- Geography Standard 13- Understands the forces of cooperation and conflict that shape the divisions of Earth's surface. Benchmarks: Understands how cooperation and/or conflict can lead to the allocation of control of Earth's surface; Knows the causes of boundary conflicts and internal disputes between culture groups; Understands the changes that occur in the extent and organization of social, political, and economic entities on Earth's surface.
- Language Arts Standard 1- Demonstrates competence in the general skills and strategies of the writing process. Benchmark: Writes reflective compositions that speculate on problems/solutions.
- Language Arts Standard 8- Demonstrates competence in speaking and listening as tools for learning. Benchmarks: Asks questions as a way to broaden and enrich classroom discussions; Adjusts message wording and delivery to particular audiences and for particular purposes.
Alison Zimbalist. The New York Times Learning Network
Javaid Khan. The Bank Street College of Education in New York City
Michael Reilly, Adaptor