Questions, Small Group Activities, and Writing Assignments
Greenwald, Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International
This lesson plan serves as a basis for discussion and reflection on
the five-year anniversary of September 11, 2001. It consists of four
parts which can be used separately or together:
has America Changed? Students will be presented with discussion
questions that encourage an exchange of views on the impact of 9-11
Gettysburg Address: The group activity focuses on the symbolic
and historic importance of the Gettysburg Address, which will be read
during the anniversary ceremony.
a letter to the future: In addition, students will express in
writing their feelings about 9-11, the war on terrorism, and implications
for future generations.
with Jim Lehrer Conversations: Students will analyze The NewsHour
with Jim Lehrer interviews related to the commemoration of 9-11. The
goal of this lesson plan is to develop students' critical thinking
skills with an emphasis on comparing and contrasting viewpoints, summarizing
main ideas, understanding attitudes, note-taking, forming opinions,
supporting an argument, and drawing inferences.
Depending on the size of your class, students may work in small groups
of three or four before the class joins together in a larger discussion.
Each student should receive a handout
with the discussion questions and group activity. First, place students
in small discussion groups so they can become familiar with the issues
and develop their opinions. Students should write short answers to the
discussion questions based on the small group interaction. Then, join
the class together for a larger discussion.
1. Describe your
immediate reaction to September 11 on the day of the attacks. Where
were you on September 11?
2. How has September
11 impacted your life and your community? Do you think America is more
or less vulnerable now? Explain.
3. How should future
generations be educated about September 11? In your opinion, will Americans'
perceptions of the attacks change as time passes?
4. How has September
11 impacted American culture? For example, how have movies and TV programs
been affected? Do you think movies and TV programs should emphasize
more patriotic themes? Explain.
5. How best can
Americans commemorate September 11? Should September 11 be a national
holiday? Why or why not?
6. Where did you
get the news on September 11 -- from cable news, network news, newspapers,
and/or magazines? Evaluate media coverage of September 11 and the war
Small Group Activity
- The Gettysburg Address
Inform the students that the Gettysburg Address will be read at the
September 11 anniversary ceremony. Provide students with historical
background on the Gettysburg Address (recommended site: PBS' The
American President). Place students in small groups and ask them
to read the Gettysburg
Address together. Tell them to discuss its main themes with their
partner(s). Ask students to list at least four reasons why they think
the Gettysburg Address is appropriate for the September 11 ceremony.
Students can make comparisons about the state of mind of Americans during
the Civil War and five years after the September 11 attacks.
- Writing a Letter
Ask students to think about how future generations will be educated
about September 11. For homework, students should imagine that they
a letter to their grandchildren. Tell them to describe how September
11 impacted their generation. What would they tell future generations
about September 11? In a one-page letter, students should describe their
feelings about September 11, the war on terrorism, and the national
mood five years after the tragedies. Students may share their letters
with other students in the "Sept. 11, Five Years Later" discussion at
August 28 and September 25, 2006. You may encourage your students to
participate in this forum, powered by content from the Online NewsHour.
for NewsHour interviews - How Has America Changed?
Beginning on September 3, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer will run a series
of discussions with artists, writers, teachers and other thinkers about
how America has changed since the terrorist attacks of September 11,
here for archived conversations). Teachers can tape the discussions
and play them in class. Using the worksheet,
students will compare and contrast the NewsHour guests' opinions on
the impact of 9-11 on American society, lessons learned, and whether
we are winning the war on terrorism.
For each interview, students should summarize the NewsHour guest's views
on the following topics:
experience -- how 9-11 changed their lives
· Impact of 9-11 on American society and culture
· Lessons learned since 9-11
· Vulnerability of America
· Freedom in America
· Tolerance in America
· The importance of institutions -- government, military, religious,
· Effects of war on terrorism on American democracy?
· Are we winning the war on terrorism?
After viewing the
interviews, lead a class discussion on the main themes of each interview
referring to the topic list. In addition to summarizing the views of
the NewsHour guests, students should also be encouraged to express their
Students will write an essay addressing the question "How has America
changed since September 11?" Students should incorporate into their
essays the views of NewsHour guests through comparison and contrast
of perspectives on the impact of September 11 on American society. They
can turn in their essays for possible publication on NewsHour Extra
at [email@example.com] or they share their essays with other students
in the "Sept. 11, Five Years Later" discussion at http://www.newzcrew.org
between August 28 and September 25, 2006. You may encourage your students
to participate in this forum, powered by content from the Online NewsHour.
Author Laura Greenwald teaches English for International Relations
at the Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International
Studies (SAIS) in Washington, DC. She has a Master's Degree in Teaching
English to Speakers of Other Languages from the Monterey Institute of
International Studies and a Master's Degree in International Relations
from Johns Hopkins University SAIS. She has a B.A. in International
Relations from Johns Hopkins University.
To find out more about opportunities to contribute to this site,
contact Leah Clapman at firstname.lastname@example.org