Military Response to 9/11

The Military Response to 9/11 – Afghanistan

Mary Mannion and Rachel Rowley, Jonathan Law High School, Milford, CT
Grade level: 11
Number of class periods: 2
  • Students will be able to explain the connection between the Taliban and Al Qaeda
  • Students will be able to explain how the United States deployed troops to Afghanistan in response to the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001, including the hunt for and death of Osama bin Laden
  • Students will understand the difference between the United States’ involvement in Afghanistan and her invasion of Iraq
Common Core Standards

Comprehensive Common Core Alignments at end of lesson plan.

  • Reading Standards for Literacy in History/ Social Studies 1, 2, 6, 7
  • Writing Standards for Literacy in History/ Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects 1

In previous class periods, students will have explored geography, people and culture of Afghanistan and important political and historical events in her history. They will have read about the war with the Soviet Union, the rise of the Taliban, Osama bin Laden’s move to Afghanistan, the reasons for Pakistan’s support of Taliban fighters, and the terrorist attacks on America from materials in the Choices Program resource, The United States in Afghanistan.


Students will be exploring six events that have affected the United States’ role in Afghanistan since October 2001 – the overthrow of the Taliban, the establishment of the new government of Hamid Karzai, reconstruction efforts by international aid agencies, the rebuilding of a Taliban insurgency, the war in Iraq, and the changes implemented in U.S. policy after the election of President Obama.

Part 1:

  • Students should be divided into pairs to share their news articles with one another
  • Students should be instructed to summarize their article for their partner as well as discuss their personal reaction to what they read
  • Teacher will hold brief whole class discussion after pairs have shared asking students to briefly share their summaries, thoughts, ideas with the group
  • Teacher should sum up initiation by asking students what are some of the effects the war has had on Afghans according to your news stories—this can be political, social, economic, educational, etc…

Part 2:

  • Pass out graphic organizer to students and explain that the United States’ presence in Afghanistan has had a major impact. Explain that students will be learning about 6 major events in the war and the effects those events had on Afghanistan and that students will be doing this in jigsaw format
  • The students will be divided into 6 groups (one group for each of the topics on the graphic organizer) at the teacher’s discretion (if you look at the readings you will see an opportunity to differentiate instruction for your struggling readers)
  • Each student will receive a reading on a single topic from the Major Events in the War organizer (from The Choices Program). All students in the same group will read the same material
  • Instruct students to read the material independently and list on the back of their reading the major points of the event they read about
  • Once students have read individually, allow them to get into their groups and share their findings
  • Instruct students that as part of their discussion they need to agree on the 5 major points of the event and list them on their graphic organizer
  • Explain to students that they are going to form new groups with students who have not read the same material so they will serve as experts of their event. Students’ job is to share with members of the new group the major points of their event. Students should now be placed in a new group where there is a student from each original group to ensure there is a representative from each reading, students should record points as they listen to group members, explanations
  • Teacher’s Note: An easy way to organize a jigsaw is to write all the names of the students in first grouping (those who read the same material) on the board horizontally. Then your vertical list will make up the cross regrouping (see chart for visual explanation)
Group A Group B Group C Group D
Group 1 Jimmy Sally Ben Dan
Group 2 Sara Jen Bob Mary
Group 3 Rich Jordan Steve Kate


“Osama bin Laden’s Death and Global Impact,” reading from Choices Program.

Assessment / Reflection
  • Students complete graphic organizer
  • Class discussion of all six events and a final question for the whole group: Overall, did the United States’ presence in Afghanistan have a direct positive or negative effect on Afghanistan? Why?
Common Core Alignments

These alignments were written with the 11th grade in mind, but this lesson could be adjusted for use with older or younger students. This lesson aligns with the following standards:

Reading Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies

Key Ideas and Details

Standard 1: Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.

  • Students will be completing one of several group readings in order to analyze how these sources (which include primary and secondary source texts) describe the United States’ military response after 9/11 and the overall impact that response had on the people and nation of Afghanistan.

Standard 2: Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.

  • Once students complete their group readings, they will need to determine the central idea of the text that have read and provide a summary to the members of their jigsaw group. Each students completion of the graphic organizer will hinge upon the other student’s providing an accurate summary of the main points in the article they read.

Craft and Structure

Standard 6: Evaluate authors’ differing points of view on the same historical event or issue by assessing the authors’ claims, reasoning, and evidence.

  • Once students have completed the graphic organizer, they will need to synthesize the summaries and main points of all the different articles from their group. They will need to evaluate the authors’ different points of view in order to answer the assessment question of how United States’ presence in Afghanistan has impacted the country.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

Standard 7: Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.

  • Students will be integrating the several different readings on U.S. presence in Afghanistan in order to address the question of how that presence has affected Afghanistan and whether the impact has been more positive or negative.

Writing Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects

Text Types and Purposes

Standard 1: Write arguments focused on discipline-specific content.

  • Students will be writing an argument based on the evidence provided in the readings as to whether the United States presence has had more of a positive or negative impact on Afghanistan.