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CNN Student News Learning Activity: September 11 Attacks

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  • Students will examine the historical significance of the September 11 attacks
  • Students will consider the impact of the 9/11 attacks on future generations
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(CNN Student News) -- Students will examine the historical significance of the September 11 attacks.


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:

  1. World War I,
  2. 1929 stock market crash,
  3. bombing of Pearl Harbor,
  4. World War II,
  5. Korean War,
  6. discovery of DNA,
  7. invention of the personal computer,
  8. Brown v. Board of Education decision,
  9. Vietnam War,
  10. President John F. Kennedy assassination,
  11. Martin Luther King, Jr. assassination,
  12. first man on the moon,
  13. Watergate,
  14. Persian Gulf War,
  15. breakup of the Soviet Union,
  16. Oklahoma City bombing,
  17. Columbine shootings, and
  18. 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?

Have students summarize their findings and share their results with the class. Afterward, ask students: How do you think that the September 11 attacks have affected your generation? To what extent do you think that the 9/11 attacks will impact future generations? Explain.

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 ( are published by the National Center for History in the Schools (

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.

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


September 11, 2001, anniversary, terrorism, World Trade Center, Pentagon, Shanksville, Pennsylvania, history

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