Class Openers

Class Opener – Day 8 – 9/11 Memoial

Can it really be 13 years since the Twin Towers were attacked?  I clearly recall my old classroom, where a teacher across the hall told me I needed to turn on CNN.  Now the students in front of me today have little recollection of that day: they were 1 or 2 years old.  But they are all familiar with the day’s events, and I hope today’s opener brings some math context to this awful day.

I shared my post on Meaningful Adjacencies, the method used to arrange the names on the 9/11 Memorial, both online and during a “My Favorites” session at Twitter Math Camp this summer. And I am thrilled that many contacted me this week looking for resources and information.

In the activity, students are asked to list their 5 favorite TV shows on a card, then appraoch the board. Their task is to connect with classmates, and placee their card so that people with similar interests are as close as possible to each other. After they have completed the board, I show a video which demonstrates parallels between this activity and the arrangement of names on the WTC Memorial.


One of my classes organized themselves into 3 “pods”, thinking that their interests were isolated. But by finding “Family Guy” as a shared interest, we can challenge small pods to come together and embrace similarities.


September 11 will never be an easy day, but having this activity to share with kids and think about the important task of memorializing those fallen makes it special.


By Bob Lochel

HS Math Teacher. Hatboro-Horsham School District, Horsham, PA.

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