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Lesson Plans Library 9-12 > U.S. History
9/11: The Flight That Fought Back
9/11: The Flight That Fought Back
Grade level: 9-12 Subject: U.S. History Duration: Two class periods
 



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Objectives
Students will
  • Understand the political objectives of al Qaeda and possible reasons for the September 11 terrorist attacks.
  • Understand the influence of American foreign policy and culture on international relations.
  • Understand the role of ethnicity and religious beliefs in political conflicts.
  • Understand causes and consequences of economic imbalances around the world.
  • Write a letter to a student 50 years from now, describing the events of September 11, possible reasons behind the attacks, and what they hope the long-term response will be from Americans and U.S. and international leaders.
Materials
  • 9/11: The Flight That Fought Backprogram
  • Computer with Internet access
Procedures
  1. After watching the video, review what students know about al Qaeda, the group responsible for the attacks of September 11. Who are they? Who is Osama bin Laden?(The Council on Foreign Relations describes al Qaeda as "an international terrorist network led by Osama bin Laden. It seeks to rid Muslim countries of what it sees as the profane influence of the West and replace their governments with fundamentalist Islamic regimes.")In your discussions, make sure students understand that while al Qaeda may be a militant Islamic group, they-and Bin Laden-in no way speak for all Muslims. The Koran, the holy book of Islam, explicitly condemns the killing of another person and considers this act a sin.
  2. Ask students to share what they believe are some of the reasons behind the September 11 attacks. Why would al-Qaeda want to hurt Americans? Encourage students to express their opinions and listen respectfully as others share their viewpoints. Their reasons might include:
    • Resentment of American power and oppressive policies around the world
    • American support for Israel
    • Dominance of American companies around the world
    • "Corruption" of American culture
  3. Next, tell students they will be exploring some of the possible causes proposed by the Council on Foreign Relations. Explain that the CFR is an independent, nonpartisan organization whose mission is "to better understand the world and the foreign policy choices facing the United States and other governments." The site below provides links to articles about nine different topics. Divide the class into nine small groups and assign each a different topic.

    Causes of 9/11: Possible Explanations


    • Muslim militant extremists
    • U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia
    • U.S. support for repressive regimes
    • U.N. sanctions on Iraq
    • U.S. support for Israel
    • Arab politics
    • A clash of civilizations
    • U.S. power and arrogance
    • World poverty


  4. Have groups read and summarize e their assigned articles for the class. After each group has spoken, give other students time to ask questions. Keep a list of unanswered questions on the board and give students time to find answers to share with the class.


  5. In the final part of this lesson, ask students to consider how the events of September 11 might be remembered 50 years from now. You could discuss how September 11 has been compared to Pearl Harbor. (Pearl Harbor was the U.S. naval base in Hawaii that was attacked by the Japanese air force on December 7, 1941. This attack pulled the United States into World War II.) How are these events similar? How were they different? What do they think it would have been like to live through those events as a teenager?


  6. The final assignment is for students to write a letter describing the events of September 11 to a teenager fifty years from now. The letter should describe:
    • Their personal reaction to the events: Where they were on September 11, 2001, how they heard about the attacks, how they felt after it happened.
    • Our understanding of why it happened: Possible reasons for the attacks (pulling from their research above).
    • Their hope for the future: What they hope the long-term response will be from Americans and U.S. and international leaders.

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Evaluation
Use the following three-point rubric to evaluate students' work during this lesson.
  • Three points: Students shared several details about the political objectives of al Qaeda and possible causes of the September 11 attacks; article summary reflected a thorough, clear, and accurate understanding of factors behind the attacks, such as American foreign policy and culture, the role of ethnicity and religion, and economic imbalances in the world; students wrote a thoughtful letter about September 11 that included all of the assigned elements.
  • Two points: Students shared some details about the political objectives of al Qaeda and possible causes of the September 11 attacks; article summary reflected a complete and mostly accurate understanding of factors behind the attacks, such as American foreign policy and culture, the role of ethnicity and religion, and economic imbalances in the world; students wrote a clear letter about September 11 that included most of the assigned elements.
  • One point: Students shared few or no details about the political objectives of al Qaeda and possible causes of the September 11 attacks; article summary reflected an incomplete or inaccurate understanding of factors behind the attacks, such as American foreign policy and culture, the role of ethnicity and religion, and economic imbalances in the world; student wrote an incomplete or unclear letter about September 11 that did not include the assigned elements.

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Vocabulary
al Qaeda
Definition:An international terrorist network begun in the 1980s by a group of Muslims in Afghanistan; it seeks to rid Muslim countries of what it sees as the profane influence of the West and replace their governments with fundamentalist Islamic regimes
Context:The 40 passengers and crew frustrated al Qaeda's plan, and by risking and losing their own lives, they saved the lives of countless others.

cockpit
Definition:The section in the front of an airplane where the pilots and other crew members sit
Context:The recordings pick up a violent struggle outside the cockpit.

hijack
Definition:To take control of a moving vehicle, such as an airplane, take the passengers hostage, and change the vehicle's destination
Context:The two remaining hijacked planes are now heading for the nation's capital.

terrorist
Definition:A person who uses violence to achieve goals, such as to intimidate or persuade for political reasons
Context:The passengers aboard Flight 93 realized they had an opportunity to stop another terrorist attack.

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Academic Standards
Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL)
McREL's Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education addresses 14 content areas. To view the standards and benchmarks, visithttp://www.mcrel.org/.

This lesson plan addresses the following national standards:
  • U.S. History-Contemporary United States (1968 to the present): Understands economic, social, and cultural developments in the contemporary United States
  • U.S. History-Contemporary United States (1968 to the present): Understands developments in foreign policy and domestic politics between the Nixon and Clinton presidencies
  • World History-The 20th Century Since 1945: Promises and Paradoxes: Understands the search for community, stability, and peace in an interdependent world
  • World History-The 20th Century Since 1945: Promises and Paradoxes: Understands major global trends since World War II
The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS)
The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) has developed national standards to provide guidelines for teaching social studies. To view the standards online,click here

This lesson plan addresses the following national standards:
  • Individuals, Groups, and Institutions
  • Power, Authority, and Governance
  • Global Connections

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