Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

We Will Stand With You

The Oklahoma City Bombing

Chelsee Wilson, Lindsey Link | Published: June 2nd, 2022 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level 9th
  • Subject Subject Social Studies
  • Course Course Oklahoma History
  • Time Frame Time Frame 120 minutes
  • Duration More 1-2 period(s)


This lesson explores the crisis response to the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995, in Oklahoma City and the development of the Oklahoma Standard. This lesson should be taught after students have learned about the bombing itself.

Essential Question(s)

How do we respond to crises? What is the Oklahoma Standard?



Students use the Sentence-Phrase-Word strategy to analyze a brief excerpt from a speech given by President Bill Clinton after the Oklahoma City bombing.


Students watch an ICAP interview with Oklahoma City Fire Chief Richard Kelley and respond to questions.


Students participate in a Jigsaw activity where they read, watch, and analyze different responses to the Oklahoma City Bombing while filling out a graphic organizer.


Students read about the Oklahoma Standard and respond by writing a Two-Minute Paper.


Students submit their writing. Then, they participate in a modified Four Corners activity.


  • Lesson Slides (attached)

  • Sentence-Phrase-Word handouts (attached, one per student)

  • Crisis Response Teams Graphic Organizer (attached, one per student)

  • Pens or pencils

  • Internet access


15 Minute(s)

Use the attached Lesson Slides to follow along with the lesson. To begin, display slide 3 and review the essential questions. Then, move to slide 4 and review the lesson objectives.

Display slide 5 and play the video clip of President Bill Clinton's speech from the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial and Prayer Service on April 23, 1995. The selected excerpt starts at 4:36 and ends at 5:40.

Display the excerpt on slide 6:

"You have lost too much, but you have not lost everything. And you have certainly not lost America, for we will stand with you for as many tomorrows as it takes… If anybody thinks that Americans are mostly mean and selfish, they ought to come to Oklahoma. If anybody thinks Americans have lost the capacity for love and caring and courage, they ought to come to Oklahoma."

Display slide 7, and pass out copies of the Sentence-Phrase-Word handout. Instruct students to use the Sentence-Phrase-Word strategy to identify the following:

  • A sentence that expresses or captures the main idea.

  • A phrase that moves, engages, provokes, or is meaningful to them.

  • A word that captures their attention or that they find to be powerful.

Once students have analyzed the excerpt and identified their sentence, phrase, and word, facilitate a short discussion. Ask them to share out what they selected and explain the reasoning for their choices. Then ask students, "What predictions can we make about how Oklahomans responded to the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building?" Allow students to discuss their ideas with a partner or share out their predictions with the class.


15 Minute(s)

You might choose to display slide 8 or 9 as you explain to students that on April 19, 1995, the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was subjected to a domestic terrorist attack. As a result of the bombing, 168 people died and around 600 were injured.

Display slide 10 and inform students that they will watch a short interview with Oklahoma City Fire Chief Richard Kelley. Kelley has been a part of the Oklahoma City Fire Department since 1991. This interview will allow students to make connections to the predictions they made about how Oklahomans responded to the crisis. Remind students to be sure to think about these predictions as they watch and listen.

Display slide 11 and invite students to watch an interview with Oklahoma City Fire Chief Richard Kelley:

After the video has concluded, ask students whether Chief Kelley's responses about the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building aligned with their earlier predictions. Ask for volunteers to share their answers.

Display slide 12. Invite students to find a partner and discuss the question shown on the slide: Which part of Chief Kelley's interview stood out the most to you with regard to how Oklahomans responded to the crisis?

Give pairs time to discuss. Then, bring the class back together and ask pairs to share out their answers.


45 Minute(s)

With students having just watched Chief Kelley's interview, explain that people from numerous occupations responded to this unexpected crisis. Display slide 14 and ask students to consider the question shown: "What were some of the types of occupations held by those who responded to the bombing?"

Allow students an opportunity to make predictions and share their answers.

Display slide 16 and share the five categories of crisis response: management, communication, medicine, counseling, and finance. Do those categories match with students' predictions? Invite students to explore the different crisis response groups that played a role in handling the Oklahoma City bombing.

Display slide 17. Pass out a copy of the attached Crisis Response Teams Graphic Organizer to each student. Assign each student a number from 1-5.

Introduce students to the Jigsaw strategy. Instruct students to form a group with others who share the same number. Assign each group one of the five topics:

  1. Crisis Management

  2. Crisis Communication

  3. Crisis Medicine

  4. Crisis Counseling

  5. Crisis Finance

Explain to groups that they are to become "experts" in their category and will be responsible for teaching other groups about their category. Have each group work together to read through the content and watch the videos on the page linked above for thig group. Each linked page is from the Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum website. As they read and watch, groups should note in their graphic organizers any important information that they think their peers need to know.

Once they have finished working, ask each group to share its findings with the rest of the class. As each group shares out, other members of the class should fill out the corresponding portions of their graphic organizers. After all of the groups have shared out, every student should have a completed graphic organizer. Give students a few minutes to look over what they have written.

Display slide 18 and give students a moment to reflect on the question shown: "How do the crisis responses you just learned about relate to the excerpt you read from President Clinton's speech?" Ask for volunteers to share out their thoughts.


15 Minute(s)

Display slide 19 and explain to students that the idea of the "Oklahoma Standard" emerged following the Oklahoma City bombing, the crisis response, and the subsequent outpouring of support. According to the Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security:

[The Oklahoma Standard] was born in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City Bombing. In April 1995, Oklahomans dropped everything to assist their friends and neighbors, coworkers and strangers. The response following the blast can only be described as amazing.

First responders from across the state and nation converged in downtown Oklahoma City to rescue the living and honorably recover the victims. Citizens lined up in record numbers to donate blood. Any call for supplies was answered without question or hesitation in overwhelming numbers.

The Oklahoma Standard continues to be the benchmark against which all efforts are measured. It is a high standard we expect to meet and Oklahomans are always up to the challenge.

Ask students to take a minute to reflect on this explanation of the Oklahoma Standard and how it connects to Chief Kelley's interview and the information they have in their graphic organizer. Allow students to share out their thoughts.

Display slide 20. Have students take out a blank piece of paper to write a Two-Minute Paper based on the prompt, "Describe or explain any actions you have seen or experienced that you believe exemplify the Oklahoma Standard." Consider using the video on the slide to time students' writing.


15 Minute(s)

Remind students that, throughout the lesson, they have discussed the response from professionals and citizens to the Oklahoma City bombing. This response gave birth to the term the "Oklahoma Standard." In the next activity, students should think about how they can apply or demonstrate the essence of the Oklahoma Standard in their everyday lives.

Introduce students to the Four Corners learning strategy. (This activity uses a modified version of the strategy.) Direct students' attention to the three signs around the room: Self, School, and State. Pose this question to the class: In what ways can we continue to demonstrate or apply the Oklahoma Standard?

Ask students to stand beside the sign that best describes their response. Once students have selected a group, ask them to create a short response as a group. Have groups select a spokesperson to share their response with the class.

As students leave, have them turn in their Two-Minute Papers and their Crisis Response Teams Graphic Organizers.