Teaching September 11th is often an emotional and challenging task.
Teachers vividly remember the horror of that day, the heroism of our first responders, the temporary unity of Americans, and the changing nature of government and warfare that ensued. Our students, however, do not have these memories and need a social studies teacher and rich curriculum resources to help unpack these things.
While our students may not remember 9/11, our students still have social emotional needs when learning about 9/11. The content might be especially sensitive for students with family members or friends directly affected, children of first responders, Muslim-American students who may have felt prejudice from others, and so on. For students without these perspectives, we want to foster empathy in our students to understand multiple points of view.
It is not enough, however, to expose students to random primary and secondary sources without a focus for inquiry. In order to create an engaging, student-centered, inquiry-based classroom, students need to investigate an inquiry question, with sources that will help students draw conclusions. The sources below can be framed around several inquiry questions:
- How can the U.S. government protect citizens from terrorist attacks without impeding civil liberties?
- What did the federal government hope to accomplish with the PATRIOT Act? To what extent did the legislation accomplish the goals?
- Analyze the extent of continuity and change in the United States in the immediate and long-term aftermath of the September 11th attacks.
- Analyze September 11th as one point on a continuum. How does the attack fit in a change over time narrative? What is that narrative?
- [Interactive] Enduring Debate: Liberty vs. Security (Discovery Education Social Studies Techbook account required)
Here is just a sampling of Discovery Education resources that can help students answer these questions. The list includes some materials from Discovery Education’s Social Studies Techbook, previewed here as free sample downloadables.
- Excerpt from Fact Sheet on Homeland Security. This document was issued by the Office of the White House Press Secretary on April 11, 2002. [From Discovery Education Social Studies Techbook]
- Excerpt from Hepting v. AT&T Corporation, 2011. Upheld the National Security Agency’s right to eavesdrop on telecommunications without a warrant under legislation passed during the 2000s. [From Discovery Education Social Studies Techbook]
- Excerpt from Katz v. the United States, 1967. The Supreme Court ruled that wiretapping a public phone violates the privacy granted by the Fourth Amendment. [From Discovery Education Social Studies Techbook]
- An excerpt from President George W. Bush’s Remarks Following a Briefing at the National Security Agency at Fort Meade, Maryland, October 24, 2008. [From Discovery Education Social Studies Techbook]
- Excerpts from USA PATRIOT Act, 2001. [From Discovery Education Social Studies Techbook]
- Statement by American Immigration Lawyers Association, 2001. The statement was submitted for consideration during a congressional hearing on concerns over the balance of national security and civil liberties concerns in 2001. [From Discovery Education Social Studies Techbook]
- The Cost of Freedom: Civil Liberties, Security, and the USA PATRIOT Act. Experts debate whether the Patriot Act enhanced or compromised the powers and abilities of the legal and criminal justice systems.
- The Secret History of 9/11: After the Attacks. Examines the intelligence mistakes, communication failures, and security protocols that could have prevented the September 11 attacks. A look at America’s course in Iraq after the World Trade Center attacks completes the segment.
- Documenting and Preserving Evidence from the September 11th Terrorist Attack on the World Trade Center
- The Kids of PS 234. The program meets the students of PS 234 in Manhattan who had to attend another school after the September 11 terrorist attacks. The students make a music video to show their gratitude for all the support they received.
- Between Bad and Worse. Andrew Card discusses the tense moments on September 11, 2001 when he notified President George W. Bush about the terrorist attacks in New York City.
- The Fog of War. Describes the events that occurred in the White House and on Air Force One on the morning of September 11, 2001.