Friday, September 9, 2011

The Teacher Gets Schooled about 9-11

Most of you know I am a middle school teacher. It is my responsibility to teach young people about American History. I work hard to keep up with technology, vary lessons so I teach to fit everyone's needs . While some lessons resemble school as you knew it, most do not.Some lessons are cut and paste , some are oral reports, some are group work, some pair work and other individual assignments. In other words, the modern classroom isn't sitting quietly reading a text and regurgetating facts.. The old teacher lecture has given way to students highly engaged in discovery. A teacher only does the introduction for a few minutes ,then she/he facillitates and then does a quick wrap up before dismissal.The students are engaged in the majority middle portion. Often technology is involved using the smartboard or mini-laptops. Now to the challenge I was given. Sometime this summer I received an email from school alerting me to start planning a lesson to commemorate the ten year anniversery of 9-11. My grandaughters were visiting so I took the opportunity to pick their brains about their knowledge of the event. These are youngsters who hear all the time about world events and participate in dinner table discussions of the news, so I was shocked to discover their lack of real knowledge until I realized the older one was born in 2000. So I had to realize middle school students are too young to remember. One thing adults do is forget how quickly time flies for us and we make assumptions. The plan changed drasticly once I got that in my head. I prepared for the event. I had a quick activity to assess knowledge . We created questions we wanted to know and pulled up a 2 min. video that gave the the overview. Then we discussed more and I learned. Next we watched a youtube video . This was a documentary about a boy 14 (approximately the age of my 8th graders). This young man was at his second day of Kindergarten just 4 blocks from the twin towers. Imagine being a kindergarten student on your second day of school,four years old and witnessing this event. The young man Brook Peters has produced a documentary on this. (yes, now kids do this). This was a valuable video for my kids because they could still remember being in kindergarten. They could have watched pictures of adults dealing with the event all week and not felt like this. They asked questions, they were insightful and I learned. Next we gained understanding of the 4 planes and all of the events . The important part of all of the lessons was their questions, their feelings, Every class has their own chemistry and personality so the questions and concerns were each class and I learned differnt things from each. The lesson was to help students understand the history of their own lives, but I learned. I learned we have students who care, we have students who feel, question, think, problem solve and want to understand and find ways to make the world better. So the lesson was good for them but great for me. Their homework is to interview an adult and find out the answer to 6 simple questions designed to get their families to share their thoughts and feeling about the event and where we have gone since then. In the last class the discussion, students realized that surprise is the only weapon terrorists have. We already determined earlier this week that fear of the unknown is the greatest human fear. Today they decided love is the antidote to fear. We discussed how strangers helped each other , held each other and gave each other hope and that is how we really fight terrorism. Now that is deep and I think the teacher was schooled. I am a teacher because I learn everyday. I gain wisdom and get real respect for the youth of our nation. If you need a real feel good moment go to this video of alan jackson's song or one of the similar tribute songs. This one made me tear a bit but in a good way. This is the bud commercial aired once. This weekend's commemorative activities may put you back in those feeling s of 2001, if they do remmber the lessons my kids taught me today and God Bless the USA!

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