Fort Dodge Community School District

Teaching about 9/11: 6th Grade Students Get a Better Understanding - from The Messenger

September 10, 2021

Most adults today would say they have detailed memories of the events of Sept. 11, 2001. They may have even watched it happening live in their school or at work.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the tragic events in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania and every year, younger generations are learning about 9/11 as a part of history before they were born.

Hannah Pelz and Hailey Taylor are sixth grade Social Studies teachers at Fort Dodge Middle School and they are tasked with teaching their students about 9/11.

Pelz and Taylor both teach their classes the same lesson called “9/11 by the Numbers”. They said the lesson focuses on the statistics that tell the story of the terrorist attack.

“We talk about more than deaths and injuries,” said Pelz, “A few topics that we hit are the number of units of blood donated shortly after, the number of children who lost a parent, the tons of debris removed from the site, the number of jobs lost in New York, the estimated money raised for the NYPD and NYFD, and so on.”

Pelz and Taylor said they aim to teach the topic in a way the students can understand on a deeper level than just an event in the history books.

Taylor said, “We also read first hand accounts of survivors. By going into the numbers instead of just detailing the timeline of what happened that day, students are able to grasp a better understanding of why this is an event we still talk about today, even 20 years later. They understand why the entire country mourned together.”

Pelz and Taylor said their sixth grade students come into this lesson with a basic understanding of 9/11, but they don’t know a lot of specific details.

Taylor said, “Students enjoy discussing this topic because it is a more modern event that they have heard parents and grandparents talk about. They take the lesson seriously and are respectful of the topic.”

Pelz and Taylor said they were both young on Sept. 11, 2001, and mainly remember the emotions they felt that day and the panic and fear they saw in their family members. They said the students are encouraged to share stories they have heard from their family members as well.

They both agreed that teaching their students about 9/11 makes them emotional.

Pelz said, “Our emotions drive our lesson. Students feel connected to what we are saying because of our stories.”

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