Friday, September 9, 2011

Remembering 9/11 with Online Resources

Ten years ago marks the national (and international) tragedy of 9/11. It is one of those events that conjures up memories of where we were and what we were doing when we heard the news. I was among my ESL students--their eyes glued to the television in the Self-Access Study Center at the English Language Center at BYU where I was teaching that morning. They watched the graphic scenes and listened to the non-stop chatter of reporters stammering in English as they reported on the escalating death toll as subsequent attacks ensued. My students were listening to vernacular that was way beyond their level of comprehension, but yet they watched with great attentiveness, concern, and empathy. And they feared for their safety. They understood the seriousness of the event; it was evident on their faces. They didn't understand that New York City was thousands of miles away from Provo, Utah, where they were currently residing. Neither did their families, who were trying to contact them from abroad to make sure they were okay, but to no avail as the increased traffic on phone lines and the internet prevented contact. It was definitely a memorable time of life...for them and for me.

September 11th is one of those moments in history that will always be remembered and will always be discussed. With it being the ten-year anniversary of this tragedy, there are several websites that provide readers with opportunities to reflect on 9/11. Some resources are specific to classroom application, while other resources are dedicated to providing a historical memoir. I've listed a few sites below that can be used to generate teaching moments. Or they can be used as a personal reminder of both the heroes who survived, and the heroes who did not.   

The United Federation of Teachers produced a documentary interviewing dozens of educators in New York City who managed the crisis from inside the schools and guided over one million students to safety.

Thinkfinity provides online conference and community connections, as well as several classroom resources to teach about 9/11.

The National Geographic website provides a video segment of President George W. Bush recounting his experience surrounding the events of 9/11 (to be aired on Sunday).

The Guardian has collected memories of 9/11 from individuals around the world over the last ten years. Individuals recount their memories of what they were doing when they heard about the attack.

The Washington Post has a series of stories covering the ten-year commemoration of 9/11. A few of the stories include the following: A pilot who was ordered to take down United 93; Nine lives that were directly affected by 9/11 and where they are now; and the age of 9/11, which recounts how old certain individuals were when the planes struck the World Trade Center, where they were, and where they are now, "10 years older, 10 years after the attacks."

StoryCorps has documented some touching stories of individuals recounting the loss of loved ones who died in the September 11th terrorist attacks. Here are three: John and Joe; She Was the One; and Always a Family. StoryCorps has a goal of recording at least one interview for each life lost in the terrorist attacks.

NPR highlights an artist, Marc Farre, who lived in New York City and witnessed the events of that day. He attempted to capture 9/11 in a song. Listen to the song here. This is what NPR had to say about it: "We received a lot of songs from amateur musicians back then, and Farre's was the most powerful one we heard — it seemed to capture the loss and fears of that day."

As you remember where you were and what you were doing when you heard about the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, you may also consider your role in teaching about this historic event to those who were too young to remember the event themselves. We can take Tracy Grant's advice offered in her article, Talking to Kids about Scary News: "I understand history better for having heard my dad talk about the day that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. History comes most alive when we hear it told by those who were there."

You were alive then. You are a teacher.

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