How to Handle 9/11

I remember my colleague Brian appearing in my door saying, “Turn on the news, someone just flew a plane into the World Trade Center,” voting in the primary that day, and fighter jets occasionally flying over the city. I have 3 sections of seniors this year so they were about seven years old on 9/11 and I imagine that their memories are more connected to their emotions and how their households handled the day and those following it rather than the images of the day’s events unfolding in real-time. Next Sunday being 9/11/11, I have a little time, but I haven’t settled on how to address 9/11 in class this week. In August, the Smithsonian held a conference centered on 9/11 and teaching contemporary history. The conference was recorded and is available on the conference website, as well as links to 9/11 timelines and teaching resources from across the web. Thinking across the web, Larry Ferlazzo also has a great collection of “The Best Sites to Help Teach About 9/11.”

What really drives my thoughts this morning? I turned the TV on while exploring some class materials for tomorrow and C-SPAN 3 was running  American History TV. This episode was an interview with Major Heather Penny of the DC Air National Guard. (The whole episode is online here and links to more of the 9/11 interviews are also included). Everyone I have ever heard talking about that day says the military was authorized to shoot down planes over Washington DC that day, Major Penny discussed how part of her assignment that day included flying into the tail of Flight 93 if it was in her flight space because they didn’t have weapons capable of shooting the plane down.

This country has so many amazing people in it, most of whom probably don’t consider themselves to be amazing either.

Interesting Finds

One of my summer projects was, like last summer, adding resources to the Minnesota Learning Loop. Hundreds of World History and US Government links later, here are some of the fun finds I added to the Loop this year.

Turning the Pages: From the British Library, digitally explore amazing texts from history including Leonardo da Vinci’s notebook, Mercator’s first atlas of Europe from 1570, Mozart’s musical diary (with 75 audio excerpts) and more.

This activity book about Marie Curie helps elementary students learn about Madame Curie’s time and accomplishments.

1066: Possibly my favorite! This single or multi-player game takes the player(s) back to 1066, and the battles with the Vikings, the English, and the Normans.

The Secret Annex Online: A digital exploration of the hiding place of Anne Frank and her family/their friends, and those who worked to keep them hidden and a 3D virtual tour of the Secret Annex.

Moving with Trade and Chocolate: A Fair Trade and Human Rights Unit are simulations and lessons, both of which focus on fair trade (and fit into the 9th MN World History standard).

Kinesthetic learning

Hands on learning. Some contend that the computer can provide environments for kinesthetic learning. Others maintain that “foldables” or activities that involve cutting/folding paper and then recording information on it qualifies for kinesthetic. I am not sure I’m sold on either. I believe digital simulations and interactive activities either online or on a tool like the iPad can provide engaging learning experiences, I am just not sure if they are truly kinesthetic. Folding activities do get students to move and can provide a great way to organize information, but are the movements related to the content? It seems that the folding is done first, then enter the content, my jury is out on whether that would help kinesthetic students. I am learning toward things like Budgetball or a mock Constitutional Convention would get learners moving and interacting with the content (more kinesthetic). That being said, foldables offer a different method of organization and recording material and can be beneficial to many, regardless of learning style and many educators find great uses for folding activities at all grade levels. True, they may be a bit lower-tech, but they are what I would like to share today. Many of the resources, but not all, were created and/or published by Dinah Zike. Some are general instructions for how to fold a variety of products, others include lesson plans/ideas for application.  If you have any ideas for a “checks and balances” foldable, please, let me know! Happy folding. 🙂

Information Literacy

The Information Literacy Game from the University of North Carolina Greensboro is a flash-based or printable board game for 1-4 players. Trivia questions focus on four categories: Searching/Using Databases, Cite Your Sources/Avoid Plagiarism, Library Wild Card and Choose Your Resource. Possible classroom uses: a “fun” homework assignment or if focusing on information literacy, students could play it head-to-head as a review of content.