My September 11th Literacy Unit

Hi! I'm Erin from Lovin' Lit. My favorite lesson I teach with my 6th graders is my September 11th Literacy Unit. All of the components of the lesson can be accessed or downloaded FREE!

I find it fascinating that each year, my 6th grade students know less and less about this poignant day in American history. And since 6th graders in my district study world history all year, I take it upon myself each year to teach a 9/11-themed literacy unit around the anniversary of September 11th.

I start this lesson by showing my students the amazing 9/11 Memorial Timeline found at I use my SMART Board (this year, I'm adjusting to my not-so-SMART Promethean board, but you get the point) to walk students through the morning of September 11th and try to bring that day into focus for them so that they can feel the heaviness of what happened.

So, what's so great about this interactive timeline? I'm so glad you asked! Let me show you...

By clicking on each element of the timeline, you'll open some type of multimedia or artifact to bring that day alive for your students.

Examples of this include a screen shot of a security camera that captured a terrorist walking through airport security.

A seat map from one of the flights. Go ahead and take a closer look at the names of those souls who were on board. Because I teach at a Catholic school, we'll stop and pray for the souls.

The students are silent as they listen to an audio recording of one of the hijackers.

We also listen to an audio recording of one of the souls on board as we discuss the many messages that were left for loved ones on the morning of September 11, 2001.

There are also videos taken by individuals and narrated as we get to see others' perspectives on the events unfolding.

Those are only a FEW examples of the wonderful media included in this timeline to hopefully convince you to use it in your classrooms next week! If you're like me, your mind is spinning with the many concepts you can apply to this timeline.. artifacts.. firsthand accounts... primary sources... point of view.. perspective.. wow, right!?

After I walk my students through the timeline - and that typically will take up an entire class period - I'll spend the next class period in the computer lab so that my students each have access to a computer in order to complete the timeline activity. I've formulated 20 high-quality multiple choice questions that will have the students interacting with the timeline in order to find specific information. And, I've made this lesson free on TpT in hopes that you will share it with your students.

And of course, as I do with everything, I have included an answer key to make your life (or this lesson) a little bit easier for you. If you decide to use this lesson in your classroom, click here to download it from Teachers Pay Teachers, and please consider leaving feedback to let me know how it works for your students! =)

This year I'm taking advantage of my students overwhelming interest in all things September 11th related and adding a few more activities to my September 11th literacy unit. Here's what I'm planning for Days 3-4.

I made my own timeline of what I thought were important events from 9/11. The events come straight from the interactive timeline we've been using. Of course, they're all important, but we're working on discerning and extracting the most relevant information. Here's mine:

Of course, there are ways to slightly alter this activity in order to simplify it for other students, use it with more immature students, or differentiate within your own classroom. You might have them create a timeline that focuses on only one aspect of September 11th. This is easier than looking at all of the events on the timeline and discerning which ones are most important.

You might have your students look for

  • all events related to flights
  • all events related to the North Tower
  • all events related to emergency response
You get the idea. I made a few blank timelines with different numbers of events.

I also created some activities that were more scaffolded. Here they are, in order of increasing difficulty. Easy first.

Given the events, find the times. Great for ESL or struggling students.

Given the times, find the events. They'll have to shorten the event descriptions. An example is shown.

Find the time or event. Once again the students will have to do some shortening of the event descriptions.

If you're using partially completed timelines, challenge your highest students with this one! Find an important event to fill in the blanks on the timeline. Remember, each event must be between the times indicated above and below the event!

I went and added all of these additional pages to my original Interactive Timeline Freebie on TpT, so simply download the updated version to receive these new activities. Here's a link to the updated product.

Finally, I'll have my students write a short summary to practice writing in chronological order. Because I want my students using quality, vivid verbs, we'll first brainstorm vivid verbs that might be used in a 9/11 summary. I'll start students off by suggesting words like crashed, devastated, terrified, and my students will typically come up with better verbs than I had even thought of.

Also, because it's the perfect time to practice using where parts in sentences, such as:
  • At 8:19am
  • After both towers collapsed
  • As officials notified South Tower tenants to remain in the building
  • Once the FAA grounded all flights
I'll have my students underline all of the where groups and color code them. If you're using any of my writing units, this will fit in perfectly!

And we are going to make and wear our 9/11 ribbons on Thursday in remembrance of those who lost their lives in the tragedy. I made them for my students and also posted them as a freebie on TpT. Click the product below to download on TpT. If you decide to use it, please consider leaving feedback.

No comments:

Post a Comment