What will a fifth-grader in the year 2050 think of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the world?
As teacher Gabrielle Glim tried to teach her fifth-grade students about the importance of primary sources when studying the past, she noticed they seemed to have other things on their minds. They were at home due to the pandemic, trying to learn remotely about the American Revolution.
The pandemic is changing lives, said Glim, who teaches at Island View Elementary School.
While browsing online through Scholastic, she came across a history project that urged students to document their lives right now and become the primary sources that could be used in the future to document this time in history.
“The students are making that connection of ‘How do we know this stuff?’” Glim said.
She brought her own version of the project to a virtual group meeting with fifth-grade teachers. Most of them got on board, Glim said.
Teacher Shalen Wiech at Mount Erie Elementary said it’s a way to document what life right now looks like from a fifth-grader’s point of view.
Students are discussing projects and looking at what other people in the community are doing, Wiech said.
“They are seeing each other’s projects and seeing that they are not alone in this,” she said.
That feeling of collaboration and in using these projects to help process something as scary as a pandemic is really helpful for mental health, she said.
The past few weeks, almost all the fifth-graders in the district documented the pandemic as they understand it. Some created books or journals; others created photo collages and poetry. Student projects took the forms of songs, of newspapers and of charts full of observations.
“COVID-19 will soon be in history books,” said Kennedy Herron, who just finished fifth grade.
Kennedy wrote a book with chapters on what life was like before the pandemic, what life is like now and what could happen in the future.
“My prediction is that this will be going on for a while longer,” she said. “It’s not going to drop off anytime soon.”
For a current look at the pandemic, Kennedy tried to put herself in different peoples’ shoes, like the doctors who are the front line battling the disease.
“I had to put a lot of thought into it,” she said.
Elliot Davis, from Fidalgo Elementary School, created a graphic novel that compared life before the pandemic to today.
She said this project and the experience of being at home for school is making her see things in a new way.
Student Vivienne Drew said at first, she just thought of this project like any other, but then she started thinking about how important it is to document something like this, which she did through poetry and with a photo collage of scenes around town.
“This is a big part of our history,” she said. “Nothing has ever really happened like this before.”
In the future, people will look back at this time and be surprised, she said.
Sienna Bartoli decided to observe the world around her, taking pictures and creating a slideshow.
Each day, she went outside and observed sights, sounds and smells. She kept track of different animals and plants and documented what life is like right now.
Allison Claridge wrote a song detailing her stay at home and the boredom she has faced.
“It’s mostly about myself,” she said.
Aiden Paul recently created the Aiden Times, a newspaper full of stories, pictures and observations about the world during COVID-19.
He said he did a newspaper so he could write about different people’s stories and see how COVID-19 has affected them.
“I wanted to see how it changed their lives,” he said.
Creating primary documents means that potentially, fifth graders dozens of years from now will be able to imagine what it was like for kids their age in this scenario, Glim said.
“This is a timeless and ageless project,” she said.