Thursday, September 12, 2013

Patriot Day 2013- A Memorable Learning Experience for Students


     On September 11, 2013, students at Cardinal Elementary wore red, white, and blue for Patriot Day. None of the students in this building were alive yet when the terrorist attacks happened, so this day is truly a historical event to them.  Teachers spent part of their day teaching children about Patriot Day.  Teachers adjusted their instruction to the level of students they teach.  For example, 1st grade students learned about helping others, while 4th grade students Skyped with a New Yorker, Mary Beth Easley, who lived in Brooklyn on September 11th, 2001.  
   Many adults remember exactly where we were and what we were doing on that day.  As I listened to the Skype session with the Brooklyn native, I learned so much.  The students asked questions to Mary Beth and she responded to her captive audience.  She did such a great job of providing them with first hand accounts of what that day was like, without being graphic or saying "too much" for their age level. 
    Mary Beth described what it was like trying to get to her 3 children who were all in different schools in the city, each about 2 miles away from each other.  No public transportation was running, so they had to walk to each school to get their children.  All of the businesses in the city were closed, except the shoe stores.  She said the shoe stores stayed open and many of them gave away shoes to people who were walking miles to get from one point to the next.  They weren't used to walking because they always took public transportation everywhere.  She told the children she remembered seeing people covered in smoke and dust, just like we all saw on the news.  She said the city smelled of smoke for at least 60 days after the tragedy, creating a constant reminder of what happened.  She told the students that she and her husband went to the hospitals and tried to donate blood, but they weren't taking any donations at that time because there were not many survivors.  
    One student asked her what the days after 9-11 were like.  She said it was great to see the communities gather together and help one another.  As she walked through the city and saw the walls of photos of missing people, she was reminded to be thankful for her family and friends and to truly cherish each day we are given.  The learning experience the students at Cardinal were given through a wonderful technology tool (Skype), is remarkable.  I am blessed to work in a school district that embraces technology and employs adults who go the extra mile to make learning accessible to every student.   

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