One of the most amazing things about teaching is how, as time passes, our students come in with a totally different understanding of history. When I first started teaching in 2005, my students had a vivid recollection of the terrorist attacks of September 11th. That horrible day was just as much a part of their life as it was mine. We shared the feelings of the day and could talk about how we all felt.
Now, in my eighth year of teaching, things have changed. The students this year, when asked about September 11th, have no recollection at all of the event because many of them weren't even born yet or were just newborns. As teachers, we must respond to these changes in student memory and adapt our instruction/discussion of important historical events.
What I have done in recent years is have my students interview someone close to them, a parent, family member, or neighbor about the events of September 11th. As I was creating this interview, it was clear that the discussion of these events should come mainly from those closest to my students - not me. Knowing how everyone's life was so affected by this awful event, I knew my students could learn more in a face-to-face interview than any other activity I did in the classroom. The September 11th interview, which does take some time to complete, has been one of the assignments I receive the most positive feedback on - from students and parents alike! (I have attached the interview form I used for the tenth anniversary of 9/11 last year.)