Living History Project: Student Excerpts Week 1

After two weeks of basically running around like a chicken with its head cut off, I can finally breathe because the weekend is here. I now have time to indulge myself by reading a good book and relaxing on the couch.

But first, I wanted to share an update on the Living History Project.

This week, I have been busy reading and commenting on the Living History Journal entries from my students. While I don’t have 100% participation, I am pleased with the number of students who have been able to adjust to this new style of learning from home. Hey, I’ll take my victories as I can get them.

My goal with this project, besides capturing the thoughts and feelings of my students, was also to find a way to help my students develop self-management and self-awareness skills (see CASEL). While developing historical empathy has been a focus of mine for years, I’ve decided to make a concerted effort to foster the development of social and emotional learning skills in the various tasks and activities I create for my students. Hence the Living History Project.

I wanted to share a few excerpts from the Living History Journals. Some of the posts were humorous, others displayed a sense of fear or worry…and then there were quite few that evoked frustration.

Excerpts on the lighter side…

  • Today, I woke up and realized there was PE homework. Like are you kidding me?
  • My second thought was that I was correct yesterday, we’re all going to die
  • One thing is that people are buying toilet paper, why do you need to buy toilet paper? It’s not going to save you from the COVID-19
From a student journal…

Excerpts that show my kids are dealing with real-life (adult?) issues…

  • What would happen if my mom wasn’t able to work anymore? How would we make money to support the family? What would happen if everyone wasn’t allowed work…?
  • My mom showed me a paper of where in case the police ever stops her from going anywhere she just shows them that paper. That scared me even more my mom works in a medical needs place so she isnt gonna stop working.
  • Yet, on the other point of view, people who have the coronavirus are still seriously on the edge of life or dead. I’m worried for my friends. I don’t keep contact of all of them, but are they sick? Are some of them being contaminated right now away from everybody? The thought of it scares me, even makes my heart thump faster…
  • The fact that my brother and I only have a limited amount of food and water  is scary to me, because if we run out we can possibly die.

Excerpts that reveal remote or distance learning is not their cup of tea…

  • I am super stressed with all of the homework my teachers are sending in. I hope it will get easier but only time can tell. At this point I wish I was in school.
  • I woke up and i head a bunch of messages on cell phone i was starting to hate the online homework because the teachers are spamming messages over and over.

Excerpts of how my kiddoes are trying to cope with the situation and find the brighter side of things…

  • As my anxious self continues to wander around I decided to ignore my anxiety as I baked goods for my family
  • This has changed my daily routine because now I do not go to school, can not hang out with my friends, and online schooling is difficult for me, because it is new to me. My parents are helping me navigate through my classes and i am doing my best

I was apprehensive, at first, about assigning the Living History Project. Part of me was thinking that we should just continue with what we were learning in class (for continuity)…but then I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to capture real-time experiences and reactions to the COVID-19 pandemic. Their journal entries make me laugh, cringe, and sometimes tear up. Their honesty is part of their DNA. Middle schoolers don’t typically use a filter so I’m able to capture their raw emotions, thoughts, and feelings. They may not understanding at the moment why I’m asking them to put their hearts down on paper (or in this case a Google Doc)…but as a historian…I know that future generations will appreciate having a primary source from children who lived during this trying time.

I am so proud of my middle schoolers.

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