When we first started doing our integrated New York City Unit five or six years ago, my team and I just took it for granted that our students knew about the terrorist attacks of 9-11 and could refer to them in passing and be reasonably sure that our guys would know what we were talking about.
By last year, it became clear that that is no longer the case.
My current students are fourteen years old, which means that they were in kindergarten in 2001. It is likely that their parents did not let them watch television during the week of the attacks (which I think would have probably been a wise decision). Even if my students were exposed to everything that was going on that week, their understanding of the events would have been that of five year-olds.
In the intervening years, it's pretty unlikely that many of the the parents of our guys have sat down and talked through what went on in New York and Washington nine years ago. It's hard enough to have the Sex Talk, the Drug Talk, the Politics Talk (this IS New Hampshire, after all!), the Peer-Pressure Talk and the Did-You-Really-Think-Doing-That-During-A-Wedding-Was-A-Good-Decision? Talk; it really wouldn't occur to most of us to have a 9-11 Talk with our kids.
So, last year, I started teaching a one class-period lesson on the events of September 11th. The idea is to present a very factual, step-by-step explanation of the events, so that when we visit the World Trade Center Site on our class trip next month, the students will understand what they are seeing.
This is what I've come up with: