9/11: Words to Remember Activity


How do people remember the events of 9/11?


As we approach the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, we know that many teachers will undoubtedly want to cover this historic and emotional moment for our nation.  In this free activity by TCI, teachers encourage students to record and/or research the words that people use as they recall the events and their reaction to that day.  After compiling at least three different accounts, students create  word art using a free website like www.wordart.com. In a debrief activity, students  share their word art as part of a gallery walk that includes the work that all of their classmates.  The teacher then leads a discussion on the words and how they tie into the meaning of the day.


This activity is designed for upper elementary through high school students and should take up to one hour of class as well as some time spent outside class researching and interviewing people.


1. Preview the activity by asking the students to share with a partner an old memory that is very clear.  An example might be a memorable vacation that was several years ago.  It might be a small memory like the first time they rode a roller coaster.  After allowing pairs to talk, ask the class why some things are remembered so clearly.  Take several responses.

2. Tell the students that the activity they complete today will be a moment in our nation’s history that stands out.  Explain that they will be responsible for helping put into words the painful day of 9/11/2001.

3. Read to the students an excerpt from someone’s recollections of that day.  (Be careful to make sure that the content is appropriate for your students.)

4. Challenge students to collect three accounts of how people remember that day.  They may choose to interview family, a community member, or do research on the web to find a recollection.  They should be prepared to share their source (names, urls, etc.) as well as a copy of the individual recollection.  Give the students at least a day or two to complete this task.  Make sure that they save their copies in a digital format (so they can copy/paste later).

5. Give directions for making word art. You can find many tutorials on YouTube.

6. Challenge the students to create word art using the directions you are giving them.  Have them Google to find school-appropriate images that can be used as the source image.

7. When students are done, have them print out one copy of their word art along with their name on the back.  Place the word art for all the students around the room, or even lined up in the hall.

8. Allow students to visit and view others word art.

9. Conduct a class discussion that revolves around the essential question: How do people remember the events of 9/11?  Encourage students to use concrete examples they discovered from the activity.

Teachers can find additional resources and ideas surrounding 9/11 by visiting the 9/11 memorial site at http://www.911memorial.org/.

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