I’ve previously shared the three-day lesson I usually do with my English Language Learner History classes, and this past week did it again. I made some changes, however, and thought readers might find it useful for me lay-out exactly what I did (and if readers don’t find it useful it will at least be helpful to me next year when I do it again!).
You might also be interested in The Best Sites To Help Teach About 9/11.
First, I had students create a K-W-L chart titled 9/11 and had them write what they thought they knew about it. Students then broke into groups of three to share and add anything they might have heard from their group members. Most knew very little, if anything – “people died,” “terrorists attacked America,” “bin Laden did it” were the comments from the few who had heard anything about it prior to Wednesday. I had people share to the entire class and added to a class K-W-L chart on the document camera.
Next, I asked students to write down at least two questions to which they wanted to learn the answers about 9/11. We repeated the sharing process and added to the class K-W-L chart.
I then told the class we were going to watch a few videos and I wanted them to write at least ten new pieces of information they learned from them – particularly the answers to the questions they listed. I showed these videos, stopping often to highlight pieces of information for them to add to their chart:
Brainpop 9/11 Movie (It’s available for free)
Interest and engagement steadily increased during the class, with lots of questions and comments.
I then shared a short video, along with images, from the New York Times about the 9/11 Museum.
I then gave students homework which was a list of questions they had to ask their parents/guardians. I’ve uploaded it here if you want use it or make changes, and will also share it in this post:
Please ask your parents or grandparents these two questions:
1. What do you remember about the terrorist attack in New York City ten years ago on September 11th?
2. What major acts of political and/or criminal violence do you remember in your native country? Please describe what happened.
How did it affect you and your family? How did it make you and them feel?
How did it affect our native country?
Lastly, I asked students to think for a moment how they think 9/11 might have affected their life in any way, had them share with a partner, and then with the class. All the Muslim students (Afghani refugees) said basically the same two things – “Now people think all of us Muslims are terrorists” and “We probably wouldn’t be here in the United States” – and all the non-Muslim students couldn’t think of anyway it affected them. We had a brief discussion of how the attack disrupted potential immigration reform. This last part went okay, but was clearly the weakest part of the lesson. I need to think more about it, and am open to hearing suggestions — about this and all part of the whole thing!
I asked students to take out their K-W-L charts and reminded them about the last video we had seen — about the 9/11 museum. I explained we were going to watch another video about it, and asked that they add new information they learned to their chart.
I showed this short ABC News video about the opening of the museum.
I then asked them to think about this question without saying anything:
Why do you think they have a museum there?
After a minute, I asked students to share their answer with a partner and we then shared in the class. There were several responses, including “To remember them.”
I then passed out this “Remembering People Who Died” chart. You can download it at the link, and here are the questions:
Think of important people who have died — in your family, in your home country.
Who are they?
How do you remember them?
When do you remember them?
Why do you remember them?
Why do you think we try to remember the people who died on 9/11?
I modeled the “Who are they?” section and listed my father, first wife and Muhammed Ali, and encouraged students to pick people who they are close to and people who might be more well-known.
Then, I modeled a response to “How do you remember them?” (think about them, look at pictures), and then students wrote down their answers.
Next, I modeled a response to “When do you remember them?” (family events), and then students wrote their own.
Then, I had students write answers to “Why do you remember them?” without modeling an answer, and did the same with the last question, “Why do you think we try to remember the people who died on 9/11?”
Students then shared in groups of four, and I called on different ones to share with the class. There were several many moving responses, though the answers to the last question were all fairly vague – “They were important” or “We want to honor them.” I shared my response, which was two-fold: One, to honor people who help others – all those firefighters and police who sacrificed their lives to save people. Before I gave my second response, I asked one of the Afghani students to share her comment from the day before about how 9/11 affected her and she shared that people think all Muslims are terrorists. I then said another important reason to remember 9/11 was because there were only nineteen Muslim terrorists and asked students how many Muslims they thought were in the world. They answers millions, and we talked about how nineteen is a small number compared to that large number.
I then had students take out their homework and we did a “speed-dating” sharing with students lined up across from each other recounting the responses they received from their parents.
Students converted the answers they received from their parents and their K-W-L chart into a Venn Diagram comparing and contrasting 9/11 with violent events in their own country (I used print-outs from Read Write Think – Venn Diagram and Compare/Contrast Planning, along with this model Compare/Contrast essay.
Please leave comments with suggestions on how I can make this a better lesson next year!