Rebecca Leon, Editorial Director, Education for Scholastic Classroom Magazines, introduces "My History Project," an opportunity for students to document and share their unique experiences during this moment in history.
NOTE: Since we launched the My History Project for students to document living through the COVID-19 pandemic, another historic moment has arisen in our country: The unjust and tragic murder of George Floyd and the outpouring of grief and protests over systemic racism and violence against Black people in the United States. We welcome and support students' responses to this time in history as well.
In May, Scholastic Classroom Magazines launched the My History Project as a way for educators and families to encourage children to document their lives and personal experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since then, our inbox has been overflowing with stories told through journals, videos, pictures, poems, and songs. Together, they make up a mosaic of children’s experiences during this moment in history. A fifth-grade girl writes about being cooped up in a small apartment with her five siblings, all trying to complete their schoolwork with spotty internet connection. A third grader interviews her family about how they’re staying safe—even her mom, an essential worker. An eighth grader reflects on what he has gained, like the time he gets to spend with his family—and going fishing.
Though common threads run through many submissions (think online school, missing friends, boredom, family movie nights), each has something distinctive: one child’s voice, one child’s unique story. And it’s the telling of the story that we hope to encourage and support students to do.
The My History Project provides nine different ways for students to record what they’re living through right now; for example, create a news story about your family, make a photo collage, or record ways you’ve helped others. It is informed by social-emotional learning. In collaboration with the Yale Child Study Center, we have crafted prompts that promote positive reframing; in other words, recognizing the bright spots in a challenging situation. This has been shown to be a key to resilience, and we hope that inviting students to participate in this project will help them get through this uncertain time. We want to empower kids to take control of their own narrative.
As an educator, you can encourage students to choose one of the projects described on the My History page or come up with their own. You can get the whole district, school, or class involved or reach out to students you think might benefit. One fifth-grade teacher shared her Flipgrid with us, in which each student described for the class what he or she planned to do. Students can also team up and collaborate through shared documents and video chats.
If students wish, and with a parent’s or guardian’s permission, they can send us what they create. Their projects will become part of the Scholastic archive, a place where their stories will live for possible inclusion in articles or videos, now or in the future.
For 100 years, Scholastic has reported on kids’ roles in the significant events of history, from World War II to the civil rights movement to the 9/11 attacks. Perhaps in the future, an editor will be researching what kids’ lives were like during the 2020 pandemic. These students’ projects will serve as important primary documents.
At the same time, these now grown-up students might look at the project their 8- or 10- or 15-year-old selves created and share it with their own children or grandchildren. They will be reminded of how they made it through school closures, lockdowns, and losses and know that their stories are important. We want them to know that right now.