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The September 11th Education Program: A National Interdisciplinary Curriculum

By Alice Kurtz - Posted Nov 1, 2009
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Overall Rating:5 Stars
Ease of Use:A
Product Support:A

Company: The September 11th Education Trust/Social Studies School Service, 10200 Jefferson Boulevard, Box 802, Culver City, CA 90232. Phone: (800) 421-4246; internet:  

Price: $129--single user. $499--5-user license.

Audience: Publisher recommends grades 6–12; reviewer recommends grades 9–12 for most of the materials.

Format: Two DVDs, internet-based resources, and print materials.

Minimum System Requirements: A computer with a DVD player and internet access providing sufficient bandwidth to play online videos.

Description: The September 11th Education Program is a seven-unit multimedia curriculum that provides an in-depth study of the events of Sept. 11, 2001. The DVDs offer personal interviews, oral histories, and primary source materials for the lessons. The related website provides additional resources, research links, a forum for posting student work, and the option of interacting with family members of victims and survivors of 9/11. The printed lesson materials include a teacher’s guide and student handouts.

Reviewer Comments:

Installation/Access: The two DVDs loaded easily. Disc 1 contains a 10-minute memorial to victims and survivors, the video content for the lessons, and PDF files of student materials. Disc 2 holds the timeline of events and lesson materials. The main menu is clearly marked for each segment.

The website,, requires a login and password for the use of the majority of segments. Sample lessons and an overview video are available online without a login, but the forum and additional materials require users to sign in. Users create a Ning ID with a protected profile that can be used by other Ning-based social networks. Installation/Access Rating: A

Content/Features: The September 11th Education Program offers teachers a powerful way to engage students in critically examining a defining moment in American history. The program was developed by the September 11th Education Trust—a nonprofit organization directed by 9/11 victims’ families, survivors, rescue workers, and educators—in cooperation with Social Studies School Service and The Taft Institute for Government at Queens College.

The teaching materials include two DVDs, an interactive website where students can post work or commentary, a teacher’s manual, and student handouts. The material is divided into seven lessons. Each lesson centers on oral interviews with survivors, family members of victims, and government and civil officials. The supporting materials are offered in print and video.

The lessons can be used as a whole unit or as individual segments in any order. The curriculum is tied to national standards; learning objectives that integrate with inquiry-based social studies work are clearly stated. I’d recommend a target audience of secondary students for most of these materials.

The program’s developers suggest showing "Remembrance," a 10-minute memorial to victims and survivors, as an introduction. The segment is powerful and emotional; it sets a thoughtful tone for the unit.

The first lesson, Visualizing 9/11, examines the effect of words and images on historical events. Lesson 2, The Historian’s Craft: Timelines, incorporates personal narratives and timelines as tools to identify the sequence of events leading up to 9/11. This lesson also gives students an opportunity to conduct an oral history.

Lesson 3, The Post-9/11 Recovery Process, focuses on the aftermath of the attacks. Some of the interviews and discussions in this lesson are appropriate for more mature students. The material considers the complications of dealing with a disaster of this magnitude in terms of preparedness, responders, and communications, as well as the task of identifying human remains.

Lesson 4, Designing a 9/11 Memorial, and Lesson 5, Honoring Heroes, can be used with middle school students if the material is adapted for age-appropriate content. These two units focus on designing a public memorial and look at analyzing designs for memorials, as well as defining and recognizing heroism. A careful screening of the supporting documentation will help tailor these lessons for use with younger students.

Lesson 6, Advocacy and the Role of Government, and Lesson 7, U.S. National Security and 9/11, examine the role of government, civic action, and general U.S. national security. This material looks into foreign policy and the identification of governmental responsibilities. A highlight is a student activity that provides an opportunity to map terrorist activity using Google Earth.

The lesson design incorporates all of the best practices of teaching. Individual and group work is interspersed throughout. Warm-up activities are offered to activate prior knowledge. Goals and objectives are clearly designed. The materials provide an interdisciplinary approach to social studies, reading, and language arts.

Graphic organizers are used throughout the curriculum. These help student thinking and provide support in differentiating materials for a wide range of learners.

The teacher’s guide and student materials provided in the manual are outstanding. The manual provides a wealth of background material for the teacher, accompanied by essential questions designed to guide the learning objectives. Time management tools, learning keys, and thoughtful analysis and synthesis questions accompany each lesson plan. Content/Features Rating: A

Ease of Use: The teacher’s guide is clearly written; the layout and design makes using the program a breeze. All student materials, background information, essential questions, objectives, learning activities, etc., are clearly stated and presented in a way that makes using the manual supportive of good teaching practices. Ease of Use Rating: A

Product Support: The website offers a forum with segments devoted to the discussion of implementation strategies and teachable moments. These discussion areas offer good support for teachers using the materials for the first time. Product Support Rating: A

Recommendation: The lesson design for The Sept. 11th Education Program: A National Interdisciplinary Curriculum is fabulous. Implementation can be accomplished in a variety of ways. Teachers could use the entire curriculum as a unit, select specific lessons, or modify lessons by determining how much written or video content to include.

The DVDs provide powerful and moving primary and secondary source documents. The oral documentation sets a tone for the dignified study of this horrific event and introduces students to the importance of oral histories for the recording of history.

The materials present a relatively balanced look at the timeline of events leading up to and occurring on 9/11, the recovery processes and controversies, and foreign policy positions. The questions provided in the lessons give students valuable experiences in critical inquiry, designing position statements, and analyzing events in which human issues bring forth many emotions.

At the time of this review, the website forum had only a few responses. With more widespread use of the program, the webpage will become a rich learning tool.

These thoughtfully prepared materials offer lessons to teach about the events of 9/11 in a way that engages students in critical thinking and creative learning while preserving the dignity and honor of the human toll of 9/11. Highly recommended.

Reviewer: Alice Kurtz, 5/6 grade teacher, Irving B. Weber School.

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