Monday, June 30, 2014

September 11, 2001 8th Grade Common Core Project

This was the first Common Core project we attempted in the library media center nearly 2 years ago. Our eighth grade English classes had been studying exerpts of 9/11 survivors and eyewitnesses. To reflect on their learning, they had also written an essay called, "What Makes a Hero?" The English teachers asked me to do a book talk on Fearless by Eric Blehm. This book had just been released and it is about Adam Brown, a Hot Springs native that gave his life in Afghanistan while serving as a Navy SEAL. We wanted to do more than book talk about this local and national hero. We wanted to do something different, something to make it real and relevant for our students. We all brainstormed ways that we could bring this unit to life for students by using the library media center and its vast resources as a staging area. The photo below shows one of our planning meetings.

We decided to make the book talk like a military briefing. Ray Borel (Library Assistant) and I were both in the Arkansas Army National Guard at the time. We decided to wear our Army uniforms to make it seem more authentic to the students. We greeted the students in a military fashion as they entered the library media center. Ray prepared an "unclassified" briefing/ PowerPoint presentation that would inform the students about military acronyms and information about Afghanistan included in the book, Fearless. After Ray's briefing I read portions of the book aloud to the students. The photo below shows Ray (Sergeant Borel) conducting his briefing.

The first year was such a success that it led to several other similar collaborative programs in the library media center! We had some coverage by our local newspaper, and we were invited to do this presentation of Fearless for both Lake Hamilton High School and Junior High's book clubs. This was a great honor for us since Lake Hamilton is Adam Brown's Alma Mater. In addition, we were asked to present the book to a local Daughters of the American Revolution chapter in the fall of 2013. 

The first year we conducted the event in one day. This included a Gallery Walk with photos from 9/11 in the courtyard across from the library. The students would complete the Gallery Walk in about 20 minutes then come into the library for the briefing/ book talk. 

After the success of the first year, we decided to add a second day (with specific learning stations) to the event for the 2013-2014 school year. This is what the presentation/ event looked like for the second year:

Day One: 

Military briefing and book talk/ read-aloud of Fearless.

Day Two:

Station 1: Gallery Walk with photos from 9/11. Students were asked to write responses to images.

Station 2: Alan Jackson song with lyrics and video: "Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning?"

Station 3: Hands on experience with Army Field Gear (so students can get a feel for what those that are protecting our country overseas might be carrying in the field). 

Station 4: iPad station with slideshow (images from 9/11)

Station 5: Video of President George W. Bush's speech after 9/11 attacks.

 We also surveyed the students about their experience (using Google Forms) with this collaborative program. They gave us good reviews and feedback! We plan to have this program each year. We will continue to work to improve the experience for students!

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