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Lesson Plan

Responding to Tragedy: Then and Now

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Responding to Tragedy: Then and Now

Grades 8 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Three 50-minute sessions, plus additional time in or out of class for composition of student poems
Lesson Author

Scott Filkins

Scott Filkins

Champaign, Illinois


National Council of Teachers of English







  • Reflecting on Tragedy
  • Then and Now Poetry Reflection

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  • Poems After the Attack

    A collection of poems responding to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks written by "poets who believe in the value of poem-making and the power of word-art in the face of calamity and horror."

  • Featured Drawings from the September 11, 2001 Documentary Project

    From the American Folklife Center, this collection of 14 drawings was submitted by third-grade students from Sequoyah Elementary School in Knoxville, Tennessee.

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  1. Based on the age and backgrounds of your students, assess the amount of knowledge they have about the
    September 11, 2001 tragedy (or the tragedy you choose for the lesson’s focus). Carefully consider the
    possibility that some students may have extremely personal connections to the events, while others may
    know very little about them.
  2. Discuss with students appropriate ways for listening and responding to different perspectives on an
    event. The diverse views provided by sample poems in this lesson will allow for modeling and
    boundary-setting, but be ready to remind students that they need to be respectful of their classmates’
    perspectives, especially if they differ from theirs. Conversely, students need to be reminded that hate
    speech and other derogatory language is not appropriate in framing their own perspectives.

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