My 11th grade United States history students have had to adjust to “distance learning” very quickly. One thing that they have mentioned they miss about our classroom sessions is our ability to have classroom discussions. They miss those moments when students can be in dialogue with each other, ask questions, and hear the perspectives of their community members. This is something that I have also missed dearly, because it gives me the opportunity to learn so much from my students and gain insight on what they want to learn more about in our next units. After receiving this input from the students, I spent Spring Break brainstorming ways to restructure our class to add this discussion aspect to our digital classroom.
One way I am excited to do this is by posting the This Day in History series so students can read about the experiences that individuals have had during topics we have covered in class. The students will be able to post their thoughts below the “Canvas announcement”, sharing what they learned, how it relates to other lessons we have explored, or how it relates to the world we live in today.
I am also planning on asking students to create their own “primary documents” about their experience in the pandemic. This will give students the opportunity to describe what they have witnessed and experienced, and (if they are ready) reflect on what these experiences mean to them, and the study of history as a whole.
While many of my students are feeling immense stress during this time, and many are having to take on extra hours at their “essential” jobs (grocery stores, and fast-food restaurants), I want to focus my curriculum on building community, hope, and a place to find resilience and strength.