Towards the end of the 2019-20 school year, Amy May, fifth-grade teacher at Milwaukee Scholars Charter Academy, tasked her students with completing a daily journal, describing how they felt about the coronavirus pandemic and how it impacted their lives. The students were instructed that this was intended to be a “living historical story,” depicting the experience of living through COVID-19.
May shared that one student went above and beyond her expectations, creating a journal that went well past the realm of the assignment. Now heading into sixth grade in the upcoming school year, Ariyana Rhodes has been at Milwaukee Scholars since kindergarten, where she has excelled in writing and language arts from the start.
“Ariyana is an amazing young lady,” said May. “She has such creativity and imagination, which shows in all her work. I love that I was able to inspire her with activities such as ‘Read and Respond,’ ‘Author's Chair,’ which includes writing a story and sharing with the class, and through journal writing.”
After reviewing Rhodes’ journal this spring, Ms. May connected with her student to conduct a video interview, speaking one-on-one with her about the project and what inspired her writing. Making this process even more special, Rhodes read excerpts from her work, bringing the journal to life.
Her final entry read, in part, “I enjoyed the process of journaling and I won’t stop. I have my diary that I write in at night and on my free time. Thank you for the privilege to do this because, like you said, we are history in the making!”
May shared that she plans on incorporating similar projects into future assignments. Since educators are uncertain about how their classrooms will function moving forward, she shared that there is a strong benefit of combining journal writing with technology. “I would love to see students keep an online journal for a school year,” May said.
“When I assigned 'I Survived the Coronavirus Pandemic,' I knew Ariyana would hit it out of the park, and she did!” said May. “I am so proud of her. It has been an honor being her teacher.”