b22238Thanks to @btcostello05 on Twitter who pointed out to me that that this is the last year any k-8 students would have been born before 9/11. His school event and the members of his Voxer group also inspired this post. And thanks to@artlaflamme for suggesting the documentary.
The following lesson was created after reading the children's book The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordecai Gerstein.
It tells the true story (nonfiction alert for your Common Core needs!) of Mr. Phillipe Petit walking the wires between the Twin Towers when the World Trade Center was first built.
Documentary footage here
The stunt embodies beautiful messages of hope in humanity and of optimism and creativity.
It should inspire some good conversations if you read it and discuss with your class.
It can be an accompaniment to a more traditional memorial lesson or a good note to end on that may help heal hurts.
5 Steps Lesson :
Introduce the purpose. "Today is 9/11 and on this day in history we memorialize those who died in the attack on the World Trade Center in New York City among other locations.
The Twin towers were the tallest towers in the world - a quarter of a mile high. One little-known fact about them is that when they were first built, a high rope walker actually walked on a wire between them! He snuck up to their roof, shot an arrow with a wire on it across to his friends on the other tower and then performed for amazed onlookers for more than an hour in the sky!
That daredevil's name is Phillipe Petit and he has some inspiring words for you about how to follow your dreams and achieve the impossible.
2- Read storybook and/or show one of the following video clips, depending on the ages or interests of your students:
3- Discussion Questions and larger lesson tie ins:
"He looked not at the towers but at the space between them"
Issue: Thinking "outside the box" and an artist temperament:
Have you ever seen something totally differently than most people would? Do you see yourself as an artist in how you see things? Why or why not?
"Of course he knew that ...the police and the owners of the towers would never allow it. You must be crazy! they would say. You'd fall for sure"
Issue: Positive Deviance:
Was he wrong to break the law? What is the role of public and private safety versus an artistic dream...
Issue: How far should you go for a friend? for your job?:
Would you have helped Phillipe carry the 440 lb reel of cable up 180 stairs to the roof if he was your friend?
Would you have walked on the wire to stop him if you'd been a cop then?
"Bad luck" thought Phillipe but he did not quit.
Would you have quit trying amidst his setbacks? Should he have? How do you motivate yourself past your strings of 'bad luck?' do you believe in bad luck? good luck?
"Though during his performance some boys playing on his wire jerked it and Phillipe fell...but caught himself"
Have you ever done something accidental or on purpose that messed up someone else? How did you react?
Have you ever "caught yourself" and fixed a problem that was about to be big?
"He could feel the towers breathing.
He was not afraid.
He felt alone and happy and absolutely free"
Issue: Figurative language: Why does the author say 'he could feel the towers breathing" when we all know towers don't breathe?
He was not afraid Have you ever felt unafraid when others would be scared?
When have you felt absolutely free?
Issue: metacognition and taking another's point of view: Why do you think I read this book with you today? Why did we spend this time discussing it? How would you commemorate 9/11 if you were a teacher?
4- Physical activities:
Did you get a feel for Phillipe's bravery (see the added talks below for more on that) doing all that up in the air so high! Would you try high wire walking? What physical feats are you proud of/impressed by?
5- Conclusion and/ Links to Further Exploration:
Let's all try to honor the victims of 9/11 today by not giving up when things seem hard and by believing in ourselves and our dreams.
To learn more about what Mr. Petit can teach us,
Click below To view Mr.Petit speaking (some adult language- please preview and show clips as needed) TED Talk-style on the highly educational topics of:
I am Lisa Gurthie the PD facilitator at Piedmont IB Middle School. She specializes in tech and arts integration, interdisciplinary, holistic education, and unschooling school to make it more real and relevant. One day I will modernize my "about" page. Check out the other blogs on this site for Lesson Ideas, Celebration of Good Teaching, and Piedmont PD