#SOL15: The Survivor Tree and 9/11

September is here and with September comes remembering.  How are you planning to talk, read and write about 9/11 this year?

Five Writing Exercises from the author – Cheryl Sommers Aubin

“Being Inspired

Think about what inspires you. What do you want to write about?  Is it being on a sports team, loving to read books, playing with the neighbor’s baby?  Then start writing!

Being Called

At the beginning of her talk, Mrs. Aubin told us about being getting a very strong feeling that she should write the 9/11 Survivor Tree’s story. She truly felt that it was something she was supposed to.  Have you ever had a strong feeling that you were supposed to do something?  Please write about your experience.


Write about something you survived.  Like a shot at the doctors, losing a family pet, having one of your friends move away, or even changing teachers or moving to a new school.


Mrs. Aubin gives the tree feelings and emotions. Think about something you could give feelings to.  What kind of story could you tell?

New Normal

When the tree returns to the memorial plaza, things feel both different and also the same.  Can you think of a time when you went somewhere and you had this same feeling?  Did you ever go back to an old school?  Did someone ever return from some place and he or she felt different but the same, too?”

Why do I write?

Today, I write to remember and honor those brave souls lost on 9/11.

I also write to share these possibilities for Writing about Reading directly from the author – Cheryl Sommers Aubin.

Today, I write as I reflect on the character of heroes!

(Check out a previous post about The Survivor Tree in “Reading and Writing Instruction:  Paired Mentor Texts“)


Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Thank you, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. 

16 responses

  1. Thank you for this, Fran. The book and the writing prompts/strategies are just what I need at this time of year. I especially like the strategy of thinking of a time when things felt different, but the same (which makes me think about Dana’s post from today, titled Same But Different).

  2. Since my own blog today is about the importance of questioning for students, I love how you used questions to drive this unit of study. Thank you for introducing us to what looks like a worthy book to read and share with students, while encouraging them to “dig deeper” in their writing through asking questions. Nice post.

    1. Thanks, Barbara!
      I am always on hand with a question or two! 🙂

  3. What great prompts to get one thinking about writing. I especially like the New Normal. I am only starting my third year of retirement but I know that if I went back to the school where I taught people and things would not be the same as I remembered. Life goes on and things change.

    1. I agree that the New Normal is a great prompt to be thinking about! And I believe that the New Normal is a good thing as I find it distressing when school looks the same as it did when I was there the first time!

  4. I’m unfamiliar with this book. I will have a post going up on 9/11/15 over at #TWTBlog. I hope you’ll leave the link to this post since I’m going to do a round-up of September 11th suggestions in 2016. This would be a great addition to the post I’m hoping to compile.

    1. It was such a treat for me to get ideas from the author about where she thought responses could/should go!

  5. Saving these ideas, Fran, as well as the title of the book. Such thoughtful prompts.

    1. Amazing ideas when we actually get to visit with authors! Inspiring! Wise! And perhaps even comforting as well! ❤

  6. Fran, I’ve never heard of this book so I’m so glad you shared it today!

    1. Dana,
      Glad that I could introduce you to a new title! I’m looking forward to hearing a lot about your “New Normal” all year long!

  7. This is a new title for us. Thank you for sharing. My family lost two people on 9/11 so always a difficult day. Thank you for the beautiful post.

    1. Clare,
      We lost one of my sister’s bridesmaids that day. So much promise in the lives that were lost! You are welcome! Hard for some of our kids to “relate” as they weren’t alive to see/know/share the horror!

  8. I love this book. And, thanks to you it’s in my library. Great questions here to pull “relatable” ideas for writing.

    1. I love that many of the questions connect authentically to “real life”. I think I could connect many other books and situations as well! ❤

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