This is an important and really fun lesson that starts to bridge personal memories with collective memory. My students also seemed to really engage with the oral histories while offering thoughtful and critical reflections.
Goals: for everyone to understand what it feels like to experience a memory from someone else’s perspective.
- Remembering and reflecting on 9/11 may be emotionally draining for you or for your students. If you would prefer, feel free to switch this to another kind of oral history. If you elect to listen to these histories, I would strongly encourage that you preface the activity by providing a historical understanding of the event, alerting students to the heavy material that they are going to engaging with, asking for thoughtful and respectful ideas, and giving students the option to step out for this part of the class.
- The 10-minute discussion that happens after students listen to a few oral histories independently starts laying a critical foundation for students to understand the various threads of personal memory that get woven into collective memory. It is important for students to understand that much of what we know about the past comes from reconstructing many, many experiences from those times. Focusing on the different perspectives and what those perspectives reveal to us about a past event/time is very important.
- Before the weekend, ask students to begin collecting potential building materials for their final projects. These may include recyclables, boxes, legos, etc. The project itself likely won’t begin until week 4, but it is helpful for students to start collecting materials now so they don’t have to buy anything.