This spring, The Seattle Times wanted to hear directly from kids about their experiences during the pandemic. Reporters partnered with educators from four schools — Franklin High School, Mariner High School, Kent Elementary School and Queen Anne Elementary School — to create a 10-minute writing assignment that encouraged students of all ages to share their thoughts about what they’re going through.
The full package of stories, along with videos and photos of the students who participated, will be published online Saturday. The assignment was so popular that several teachers who weren’t part of the project wanted to use the writing prompts, too, or adapted it for use in other ways.
Kent Elementary teacher Denisha Saucedo, a partner in this project, expanded this exercise to the entire sixth grade, out of interest in hearing what all students were thinking.
Queen Anne Elementary educator Priyanka Jayanthi modified the assignment and asked her students to also draw a picture of an activity, object or person who helped them cope with challenges during remote learning and lockdown.
If you’re a teacher who’d like to borrow the idea, here are the writing prompts. Students were asked to respond in a notecard-sized space to help keep their answers focused and concise:
- What did you learn about yourself during the pandemic?
- What challenged you over the past year?
- What object, activity or person was really important to you during the pandemic that helped you get through the last year? i.e., a book, a game, a friend, a family member, your journal, a toy, a movie, something creative that you do, something active that you do, etc.
- What do you want people to know about your experience during the pandemic?
Encourage students to respond in a full sentence, like, “During the pandemic, I learned …” or “Over the last year I was challenged by …”
You could also start a classroom conversation inviting students to think of bigger picture ideas, like how they learned to manage feelings of boredom or anxiety or sadness, how home life and how their responsibilities might have changed, or how their current and goals and aspirations evolved.
If you use this activity, feel free to share your responses with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.