Teaching the Insurrection January 6, 2021

January 7, 2021 the day after the insurrection was the longest teaching day of my teaching career! I changed my lesson from impeachment to a lesson to help my students process the events happening in the capital at 11 PM at night, which is not like me. On Wednesday 1/6/21, I was glued to the news like the majority of this country. This is how my history teacher must have felt teaching on 9/11, the days, and weeks after the event. I went to bed shortly after 2 AM trying to gain some perspective on the insurrection that occurred that earlier that day.

Then, I woke up at 6:30 to look over my lesson before my hour-long department meeting. As a department, we created a collective plan to teach the unbelievable events that unfolded in the capital. On January 7th I taught all 56 government students about the chaotic scenes at the capital.

Media’s Use of Words

First, I started the lesson with the task of having my students think about the language that the media is using, especially when this first started happening. Drop a word that the media used to describe the event? They put their word on a mentimeter. We then discussed the larger words, which were most common for the senior class to say.

media's word of longest day

Second, we discussed the difference between the different medias words? What does it reveal and what does it obscure? For example: “protestors” versus “terrorists,” “protest” versus “attack” or “coup.” 

How are you feeling about the insurrection?

Third, we watched the PBS news special on the events and then we did a word cloud on how they were feeling. The larger the words the more students said that word.

feeling longest day

Fourth, we created a historical collection of current events that stood out to them. I taught them the CRAPP method for sourcing information and we found current events. We then discussed current events together as class trying to unpack the event.

Free Write about the insurrection

Lastly, I had them free write with no judgment about the insurrection. Being able to write freely, and without judgement, is something that is not often allowed for within the school curriculum.

I understand how it’s important to teach children how to write and particularly essays. Freewriting should not be overlooked though, as it is a way of taking your thoughts, ordering them, and writing them down in a cohesive and coherent format. This is a skill that can be transferred to any subject and/or area of life.

The prompt was- If your kids ask you 20 years from now to explain what happened on this day, and why, what would you tell them? As a teacher, I responded to each kid’s post with the same response- “Thank you for adding your opinion. I value it!”

longest day of my career

Let them take the lead!

The discussions after this insurrection lesson were some of the most powerful discussions in my entire teaching career. It was the longest day of my teaching career. I was tired. Didn’t know how to process the events. I was scared of what was unfolding in my eyes. And, yes, I kept teaching through the challenging situation. I let my students guide the discussion and take the lead in my class!

“We are bound by ideals that teach us what it means to be citizens. Every child must be taught these ideals. Every citizen must uphold them…. I ask you to be citizens. Citizens, not spectators. Citizens, not subjects. Responsible citizens building communities of service and a nation of character.”

~ George W. Bush

Monday’s Lesson Modified

I worked with another social Studies teacher Mrs. Clark to come up with this collection from the course material and routed it in our current events. This is my new lesson on the 25th Amendment for Monday. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1S6JNuzMLHYbfrCMDwTQnFkzZf7JE02ffhiTh8YnLN_4/copy

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