Eleven years ago, I was sitting in my 6th Grade classroom when my teacher turned the news on. I watched the Twin Towers fall and felt a range of emotions, from fear to anger to sadness and confusion. As a 6th Grader I could not manage to grasp the idea that someone would intentionally harm so many innocent people. My world has changed so much in the past eleven years. I am no longer an innocent 6th grader full of questions needing to be answered, I now have my own classroom full of second graders looking to me for answers to all their questions.
Today, I got to teach my second graders about September 11, 2001…a day I and many other Americans will never forget. It was strange to think that my students were not even alive when this tragedy occurred. The only information they know about this date is what their parents chose to share, or what they overheard on the radio or television.
We started the day writing about ways people show courage or bravery. I was very impressed with my second graders ability to grasp such a complicated idea. I was still not 100 percent sure about sharing about September 11 during Social Studies class, but as soon as my students came through the door I began getting questions and overhearing comments. “Do you know what today is?” “The twin towers fell down because two planes flew into it.” It was then I decided I would address this historic event with my students.
I utilized a children’s book to share the event in a less graphic manner. Children’s Literature is the perfect way to take a tricky subject and make it discussable. I used the children’s book called Fireboat by Maira Kalman. It was a story that shared what happened, but focused more on how the people of the United States came together to show that we cannot be broken.
My class has never been so silent… they sat up straight…eyes glued on the book…waiting to hear every word…
image from “Fireboat” by Maira Kalman
And when the story was over, every single hand flew into the air. “How could this have happened?” “IT was an accident right? “No one would ever do that on purpose” “What MEAN people, THEY should be in JAIL” and the questions went on and on and on. They were the SAME questions I found myself asking 11 years ago…
We finished the day making our own American flags using construction paper and markers. We also closed with a prayer to remember all those who lost their lives on this day eleven years ago.
Also, everyone should watch this inspiring video about former Boston College Lacrosse player Welles Crowther who gave his life eleven years ago to save complete strangers. Daisy played this at a retreat for the middle schoolers and it has stuck with me ever since. It was also played again at Catholic Heart Work Camp. I still have my red bandana from that day.
“What would you do in the last hour of your life, where would you be, who would remember it, what would it look like?”
(click the link to view the video).