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Friday, September 7, 2012

911 Memorial Activity Reaches the Common Core

Next week, I am going to the 911 Memorial in NYC.  Learning about the vision, debate, study, engineering and design of the memorial is a great opportunity for deeper learning for our students.  Just looking at the symbolism that is incorporated into the design – waterfalls into footprints that never fill, trees from the Flight 93 site in PA and the Pentagon, the Tridents from the original building, five buildings spiraling up like the torch of Lady Liberty- and how it comes together to complete the monumental task of healing this deep wound in the earth with a balance of awareness of the tragedy and hope for the future is a great lesson.  The question of what was to be done at the site brought about great debate and was only resolved when all parties perspectives were considered.  This is an example of great problem solving at its best with science, engineering, art, language arts and social studies content all rolled into the task.   

What a great opportunity to use the problem solving strategy...SCAN.  Imagine looking at the devastated site 11 years ago and trying to determine what should be done?  Imagine the perspectives that had to be considered.  Business leaders, families who lost loved ones, city workers, artistss and entrepreneurs all had unique perspectives on the best way to honor the victims, the heroes and American resilience.  What a great way to demonstrate how a simple strategy like SCAN (See the issues, Clarify the issues, Ask what's most important, and Now, what's the plan?) can help solve complex problems.

Reaching the Common Core
Why not have your students select a perspective and "write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence." (CCSS) The 911 Memorial website has wonderful resources where your students can find information and teachers can find a great diversity of lessons plans all linked to the Common Core Standards.  Lessons range from the historical impact to the making of memorials.  You can easily move them from stating their position to collaborating on their own solutions.

There is also a series of videos by the Discovery Channel about how the master plan for building the Memorial came about.  You can watch the video through teacher’s hub video writing prompts or directly though Discovery (with commercials).  I love this video about the building that is being designed around a wedge of light that will appear on 9/11 at precisely the time the second tower fell.  Think of all the science and engineering that had to go into the planning of that!   

September 11th is a great time to have your students "think historically" to gain an understanding of how this area has risen from the rubble to include the tallest and strongest building in American history and a memorial to honor those who were killed at the site.

Looking for more?
Other teacher and student resources for studying 911 can be found at the George Bush Library or the Edsitement Launchpad of activities.  

You can get kids looking at security issues that arose from 911 through different perspectives using the free online discussion lesson:  Patriot Act:  Security or Freedom at TregoED.


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