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Teachers looking for ways to hold meaningful discussions with students about the terrorist attacks of 9/11 should take a look at the Teaching About 9/11 Education Collection. Year after year, this is one of Retro Report’s most widely used resources. The collection comprises four original short films, each accompanied by a lesson plan and student activity. It includes a recording from Retro Report’s Teaching About 9/11 webinar.
For inspiration, here are some ways educators around the country have used the collection in their classrooms.
Brittany Wallace Knauer is a Retro Report Teacher Ambassador. She screened the “9/11 Heroes” short film for her high school students at Montgomery Junior High in Montgomery, Texas, and used the primary sources activity as part of her lesson.
“The video was long enough to provide a complete picture, yet short enough to keep my students interested the entire time,” Knauer wrote. “After we were done – questions, tons of questions! They were invested in the story and wanted to learn more not only about the first responders and their participation on 9/11, but the events of the day as well. Many of my students came to class the next day and let me know they had talked to their parents about what we talked about in class. (That’s a win!)”
Dr. Shelina Warren also shared the collection. Warren is a social studies teacher living in Washington, and a member of Retro Report’s Council of Educators.
She screened “9/11 Heroes: Surviving the Biggest Attack on U.S. Soil” and used a combination of lessons from the collections.
“I meshed two of the lessons together so that I had my students Think-Pair-Share what they already knew or heard about the events of 9-11,” Warren wrote.
“They answered questions about the NYPD officers’ experiences, the types of primary sources included in the video, three things they learned from the video, and three questions they had from viewing the film. Then I had students choose a lens to focus their second viewing of the film in the areas of editing, images, storyline/historical facts or human behavior. They responded to questions about their specific lens, the thoughts and feelings experienced by the rescue personnel, and how 9-11 contributed to their understanding of heroes.”
Warren wrapped up the lesson by having her students analyze political cartoons, music and sports sources to grasp the impact of the attacks.
The materials “gave me rigorous but engaging material I could modify and adjust to meet the needs of my students,” she told us.
“The video, with its smorgasbord of interviews, pictures and videos kept my students off their phones and eyes glued to the smartboard,” she wrote. “It created a rich discussion among students and . . . provided me an opportunity to dismantle any falsehoods and respond to their questions.”
Valerie Green, a middle school ELA teacher in the Bronx, N.Y., and a member of Retro Report’s Council of Educators, screened “9/11 Heroes” for her eighth graders. “The resources are fully aligned to standards and can be used in core content classes,” Green wrote. “The resources reduce teacher planning time, provide different entry points for students to increase engagement as well as follow-up lessons and videos that tap into different learning styles.”
Warren, the Washington social studies teacher, agreed. “I would recommend these resources to other teachers across the country because they are created and piloted by teachers for teachers,” and the videos are “highly engaging, professional, and student-friendly,” she added.
Are you planning to incorporate Retro Report materials into your lesson plans? Tag us to share your experiences, or DM a photo on X or Instagram. Be sure to sign up for our educator newsletter, where we share tips from teachers who have used our materials. You can view past newsletters here.
CAROLINE WATKINS is the audience engagement manager at Retro Report.
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