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CNN Presents Classroom: America Remembers


(CNN Student News) -- Set your VCR to record the CNN Special Classroom Edition: America Remembers when it airs commercial-free on Monday, September 19, 2005, from 4:00 -- 5:00 a.m. ET on CNN.

Teachers: Please preview America Remembers, as it contains content and images that may not be appropriate for all students.

Program Overview

CNN Presents takes a two-part look at the extraordinary events of September 11, 2001 and America's response. America Remembers, Part I focuses on the tragic events that took place on September 11. In this episode, CNN journalists share their reactions to the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks and the crash of United Airlines flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Grade Level: 7-12

Subject Areas: History, Social Studies, Technology


This CNN Presents Classroom Edition: America Remembers and its corresponding lessons challenge students to:

  • Identify the key positive and negative outcomes of the 9/11 attacks for both the U.S. and the international community;
  • Determine where the September 11 attacks fall in the range of important historical events;
  • Examine the role of Congress in the War on Terrorism;
  • Assess whether or not Republican and Democratic lawmakers have been unified in the fight against terrorism.
  • Curriculum Connections

    History Standards

    Era 8: A Half-Century of Crisis and Achievement, 1900-1945

    Standard 2A: The student understands the causes of World War I.

    Standard 3C: The student understands the interplay between scientific or technological innovations and new patterns of social and cultural life between 1900 and 1940.

    Era 9: The 20th Century Since 1945: Promises and Paradoxes

    Standard 2F: The student understands worldwide cultural trends of the second half of the 20th century.

    Standard 3A: The student understands major global trends since World War II.

    The National Standards for History ( link) are published by the National Center for History in the Schools ( link)

    Social Studies Standards

    Standard II. Time, Continuity and Change

    Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of the ways human beings view themselves in and over time.

    Standard V. Individuals, Groups and Institutions

    Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of interactions among individuals, groups, and institutions.

    The Curriculum Standards for Social Studies ( are published by the National Council for Social Studies ( link).

    Technology Standards

    Prior to completion of Grade 8 students will:

    Standard 2. Demonstrate knowledge of current changes in information technologies and the effect those changes have on the workplace and society.

    Prior to completion of Grade 12 students will:

    Standard 3. Analyze advantages and disadvantages of widespread use and reliance on technology in the workplace and in society as a whole.

    The National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) for Students ( link), published by the International Society for Technology in Education (The general Technology Foundation Standards for All Students are found at link).

    Discussion Questions

    1. Moment of Impact - New York

  • What questions went through the CNN journalists' minds during the September 11 attacks? Were you surprised by any of their responses?
  • What challenges did journalists face while covering the attacks?
  • In what way is a journalist's view of breaking news unique?
  • How might a journalist's perspective of the September 11 attacks compare with a bystander's perspective?
  • How do your thoughts and feelings about the September 11 attacks compare to those of the CNN journalists?
  • If you were a journalist, how would you have covered the events of September 11? What would have been your sources of information? What images would you have tried to capture?
  • How do you think journalists' coverage of September 11 influenced people's perceptions of the tragedy?
  • 2. Moment of Impact - Washington, D.C.

  • How would you describe President Bush's initial reaction to the attack?
  • What do you think was going through his mind at that point in time?
  • What procedures were put in place to insure the president's safety?
  • What is the significance of the fact that the FAA grounded all of its planes so quickly?
  • How do the journalists and the eyewitnesses describe the attack on the Pentagon?
  • What message do you think is conveyed by the video of Secretary Donald Rumsfeld helping other men carry stretchers of the injured out of the Pentagon?
  • 3. Pandemonium

  • What types of images and sounds did the journalists capture on video?
  • How do you think viewing this information compares to reading about it in a newspaper or online?
  • How might these video images influence people's perceptions of the World Trade Center attack?
  • What risks did journalists assume in capturing this footage? Do you think these risks were worthwhile? Why or why not?
  • At the time, what did people think might have been happening?
  • Using your senses of sight, smell, taste, touch and sound, describe what you experience when viewing the scenes just before the collapse and the immediate aftermath of the collapse of the towers. How does watching the collapse of the World Trade Center make you feel?
  • 4. Shanksville

  • According to the journalists in the video, where were the terrorists who took control of United Airlines flight 93 heading when the plane crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania?
  • What role did the media and cell phones play in enabling the passengers to thwart the hijackers' mission?
  • CNN Correspondent David Mattingly recalls that, "They [the passengers] got together, they discussed it - and this is what really gets me - they voted. They voted to take back the plane." Why is it so significant that the passengers voted in the midst of danger and tragedy?
  • Why is the crash of flight 93 considered "the first victory in the War on Terrorism"?
  • To what extent did the media's coverage of the United Airlines flight 93 crash differ from the coverage of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks? Why? How might the reporting of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks have differed if these events didn't take place near major news bureaus?
  • 5. A People's Story

  • What thoughts and feelings did you have while watching people give their personal accounts of the World Trade Center collapse?
  • Why do you think journalists chose to cover personal accounts of the attacks?
  • How have people's personal accounts influenced your views of the September 11 attacks?
  • To what extent are personal accounts important in terms of documenting historical events? What recommendations do you have for insuring that these accounts are recorded and preserved? How do you think historians might use these personal accounts in the near and distant future?
  • 6. Protecting the President

  • What security measures were enacted to protect President George W. Bush on September 11, 2001? Why is keeping the president safe so important?
  • What is the "press pool"? What function does it serve?
  • Why do you think President Bush allowed the press to travel with him aboard Air Force One on September 11?
  • What is the role of the president during times of attack and national tragedy?
  • What was the significance of the speeches made by the president throughout the day of September 11?
  • During a national crisis, such as September 11, how much information should the press be allowed to report about the president without jeopardizing his/her safety?
  • Suggested Activities

    1. A Turning Point

    Ask students to define the term "turning point" as it relates to history. [Note to Teachers: According to Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, a "turning point" is a point at which a significant change occurs. Professor Ted Goertzel of Rutgers University offers this: "Turning Points are lasting changes in the climate of times. 1929 and 1941 were turning points, however, 1963 and 1987 were not, despite the Kennedy assassination and the stock market crash."] What criteria do students use in their definition? Do they think September 11, 2001 was a turning point in history? If so, for what, and for whom, was it a turning point? How do the September 11 attacks compare to other turning points? After watching the video, divide your class into four groups and direct each group to discuss either the social, economic, political, or cultural impact of the attacks. Have each group identify both the short-term and long-term consequences. After groups share their findings, have students identify the key positive and negative outcomes for both the United States and the international community. Then, challenge your students, working as a class, to create a mural entitled "A Turning Point in History" that depicts the impact of the September 11 attacks and how America (or the world) has changed as a result of these events.

    2. Historical Significance

    Ask students: In your view, what makes an event historically significant? Next, have students create a list of some of the most significant national and international events of the 20th and 21st centuries, such as:

  • World War I,
  • 1929 stock market crash,
  • Pearl Harbor,
  • World War II,
  • Korean War,
  • discovery of DNA,
  • invention of the personal computer,
  • Brown v. Board of Education decision,
  • Vietnam War,
  • President John F. Kennedy assassination,
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. assassination,
  • first man on the moon,
  • Watergate,
  • Persian Gulf War,
  • breakup of the Soviet Union,
  • Oklahoma City bombing,
  • Columbine shootings, and
  • Hurricane Katrina.
  • Then, have each student interview a cross-section of teens and adults to find out how they regard the September 11 attacks in comparison to these other key events. Instruct students to ask their interviewees the following questions:

    1. What important historical events have taken place during your lifetime?

    2. Why are these events historically significant?

    3. Where were you when these events occurred?

    4. How did these events affect your life and the lives of those around you?

    5. How has the world changed as a result of these events?

    Using the data from the interviews, students should chart these events in order from the most historically significant to the least historically significant. Direct them to identify the criteria that they used to come up with their list. After students share their findings, have them write short essays about how they think the September 11 attacks will affect the lives of future generations.

    3. Bipartisan Unity

    Inform students that, on the evening of September 11, 2001, members of Congress gathered on the steps of the Capitol, in what was a symbolic display of bipartisan unity, and sang a spontaneous chorus of "God Bless America." During the gathering, House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Illinois stated that, "Senators and House members, Democrats and Republicans will stand shoulder-to-shoulder to fight this evil that has perpetrated on this nation...We will stand together to make sure that those who have brought forth this evil deed will pay the price."

    Have student groups comb online and print resources to learn about the role of Congress in the War on Terrorism during the last several years. Challenge groups to identify key initiatives from both major political parties. After groups present their research, ask students: In your opinion, have Republican and Democratic lawmakers been unified in the fight against terrorism? State your rationale.


    World Trade Center, terrorism, Pentagon, Shanksville, Pennsylvania, Congress, bipartisan, President George W. Bush, journalism, media, stock market, history, Afghanistan, September 11, 2001

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