Remembering September 11 With an Oral History Project

By Jeremy Rinkel on August 22, 2011
  • Grades: 9–12

On the morning of September 11, 2001, I was on my way to work in Springfield, Illinois. Many people remember where they were and what they were doing when terrorists attacked our country 10 years ago this year. My current students, however, may have a difficult time remembering. Since I often refer to 9/11 when discussing various pieces of literature, I wanted my students to have a firm understanding of the event, and so created the Remembering September 11 lesson. This lesson is broken into three phases: class discussion, group research, and individual project.

Phase I focuses on a class discussion to build a foundation of knowledge of what happened on September 11, 2001. Phase II focuses on research conducted in groups to build additional knowledge of the events. Phase III focuses on a technology project where students interview a family member about the attacks. Students will be able to choose which technology project to use based on their skill level and interests.

Phase I: Class Discussion

Before I show video footage of the event, I want to see what my students know about it. I pass out a notecard and ask them to write down everything they know about the attacks and one question they have concerning the attacks themselves and the aftermath. After the students complete this part, I collect their responses and then show actual news footage taken the morning of 9/11/01. You can find these on YouTube by searching the words "September 11 news footage." The September 11 Television Archive is another great source that has archived news footage from all the major news networks.

While the video footage plays, I look through the notecards and plan the rest of the discussion based on student questions and addressing the key points. To be sure that the students understand the key people and places, I have created two charts for them to write on during the class discussion. The first chart focuses on the key people associated with 9/11 and the second chart focuses the on key places. The class discussion element of the lesson is very important to build the foundation for the students to complete the Remembering September 11 project.

Phase II: Group Research

After the class discussion, I allow students to break into research groups. The goal of each group is to develop a better understanding of what was discussed in the larger group. During group research time, I circulate through the classroom, listen in on the discussions, and redirect groups if necessary. Each group is also responsible for formulating questions that they will ask family members. So my students have a research focus, I provide a list of websites for them to consult. After students have compiled a list of questions and verbally shown that they understand the basics of what transpired, I begin discussing Phase III of the project.

Phase III: Individual Project

I want to challenge my students, but I don't want to overwhelm them to Rubistar the point where they get frustrated and give up on an assignment. So I have provided three Remembering September 11th project options to accommodate the different skill levels and learning styles. In each of the options, students will be required to interview a family member and share the information using Option 1 (low-tech), Option 2 (middle-tech), or Option 3 (high-tech). Each project, depending on the option the student selects, has a different rubric. The rubrics were created using the website RubiStar. RubiStar provides many already created rubrics, but also allows you to design your own.

Option 1 Low Tech: Students are required to conduct an interview and present a typed document summarizing the interview. In addition to summarizing their interview, students must discuss and analyze the events of September 11, 2001.

Option 2 Middle Tech- Students are required to create a slideshow using PowerPoint, Prezi, or Google Presentation.  The slideshow must include information discussed in the interview as well as analyzing the events of 9/11.

Option 3 High Tech: Students are required to create a video interview. Students may use the video option on a cellphone, digital camera, or flip camera to record the interview.


For more teaching ideas, visit “Understanding 9/11” for articles, lesson plans, videos, and book lists. How are you planning on Remembering September 11 in your classroom this year?


Is there any way you could post your rubric number to share? Thanks!!

i thgink that september 11th was unfair

I like how you told your story in your state of mind :-)

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