One teaching strategy that I like to do with my students is reading and analyzing historical journals to understand the time period we are learning about. These journals provide insight into the everyday life of people living through extraordinary times. I use a primary source graphic organizer to help my students identify the important aspects of life and contextualize what was going on.
Right now, this very moment we are at a crossroads in history as we face this pandemic known as Covid-19. Schools all across the nation are closed and we as teachers are forced to teach remotely with distance learning, This is a unique opportunity for us and our students to journal about this experience thus creating a historical record that we and they can someday share with our children and grandchildren.
Social distancing is a new experience for me. The last time I remember missing an extended time of school was during the Blizzard of 78. I was a 9 year old kid who was excited to sled and build forts in my backyard. School was closed as were most businesses. I remember having to walk to the store for groceries with my mother and sister because we were not allowed to drive. But that was different. That was not a global pandemic, rather a regional experience that would improve with the warm weather. We were scared, but it was different. We knew that a few warm days would change the conditions and life would go on as usual. This time it is different. This time there is uncertainty. Maybe it is because I am an adult know and more aware of what is going on. Maybe because this is a global experience. Maybe it is because the government is asking us to practice Social Distancing. Whatever the reason, we are witnesses to history. It is our duty to record our thoughts and feelings so that future generations can understand what we faced as a global community.
This assignment is not meant to cause anxiety in our precious students, rather it is meant to create a historical record from a student's perspective. Students can explore different platforms to create their journal from traditional pen and paper, blogging and creating videos and photographs with their phones. In the long run this exercise might be cathartic and help students to process and understand their feelings.
Here is a link to Middle Web. It has some great ideas about having students journal their experiences.