Guidelines for Teaching the 9/11 Lessons

The original guidelines below were written specifically for September 11th-focused lessons and school activities and/or commemorations around the anniversary date by Colleen Tambuscio, New Milford High School, NJ.

School–wide suggestions:

  • Develop a rationale for the lesson that aligns with your school goals and school curricula
    - Examine existing 9/11 anniversary projects or school wide commemorations
    - Unify a school approach – make it an inclusive school event
  • Identify the background information needed by the students and/or teachers to accomplish the goals of the lesson.
    - Develop a basic historical overview to meet the needs of your students. Do not assume they have the historical knowledge.
  • Be sensitive to the religious diversity in your community and school and choose language carefully when referring to the perpetrators.
    - Educators should be mindful of stereotyping the Muslim community in particular and how this could have an impact upon students.

 Preparing for the lessons

  • In researching the subject matter of 9/11 and terrorism, provide a list of acceptable websites or print materials for the research (on this website).
  • Avoid articulating personal or political beliefs in reference to 9/11 and  terrorism by choosing language and text carefully.
  • Monitor and choose audio-visual materials carefully.
    - Choose materials that clearly meet the goals and objectives of the lesson.

 In the Classroom

  • Identify students in the class who were affected by 9/11, terrorism or violence to assist in building a lesson that will appropriately respond to their needs.
    - Be sensitive to the vulnerability of students who have a history of trauma and how they may connect 9/11 to their personal experiences.
  • Avoid having students engage in educational activities that simulate or act out the roles of terrorists, perpetrators, bystanders, upstanders, etc.
    - The current thinking on this matter addresses the issue that simulating an event of this magnitude and asking students to respond to the simulation is unrealistic and pedagogically flawed.