Students Learn and Connect with Quarantine Journals

School News
April 24, 2020
drawing of workspace
One student illustrated her home workspace.

As our world takes a historic pause, students in Trisha Cotter’s sixth grade class at Daniels Run Elementary are busy. They are filling the pages of online Quarantine Journals with their experiences of living through a pandemic. Their stories are told in words, drawings, and photographs (lots of selfies). 

In addition to improving writing skills, journals are powerful tools to help work through emotions during stressful times. Plus, journaling can be fun!

“Because our journal writing is submitted online, it’s also a way to connect with each other” says Cotter. “My students are separated, but experiencing similar situations because of the stay-at-home order. Sharing our thoughts creates community and is a way of supporting each other.” 

The Quarantine Journals reflect a range of entries: 

I ask myself a lot of questions like, when do you think everything will go back to normal? Or what are you gonna do over the summer if you can't play with friends. But if I’m being honest, I don't even know what I'm going to do tomorrow. There's just so much unknown right now. And I hate it.
I've been doing a lot of school work and I’ve been having a lot of P.E. and recess. I enjoy working with my dad on math. I also like texting with friends outside of school and talking with them on Facetime, and I like some down time.
I personally think the easiest thing about social distancing is that you don’t have to wear real clothes. You could just party in your PJs all day.

When the journaling project began a few weeks ago, Cotter made page templates available through Google Classroom. She also produced an eight-minute video with instructions about using the journaling tool and journal writing techniques.

Cotter also is creating and sharing her own Quarantine Journal. “Today, I looked back to Day 1 to see what I was grateful for then, compared to how I feel now,” says Cotter. “My students use the journals to reflect too. They are changing and maturing quickly, and journaling is a good way for them to gauge how they have grown and progressed.”

template for journal
Templates for the journal project were adapted from free resources available on the Teachers Pay Teachers website.

How to Start a Journal

You don’t need a class to start journaling. Take a look around the house for an empty composition book or a notebook you can put together. 

Consider some of the following writing prompts: 

Elementary School 

  • List of things that make me happy.
  • If you were granted one wish, what would you ask for?
  • What I miss the MOST being in quarantine. What I miss the LEAST.

Middle School 

  • If you could have been someone in history, who would you have been? Why?
  • If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and whom would you take with you?
  • Oh, no, I’m quarantined and I can’t…

High School

  • What is your favorite activity? Why do you think you enjoy it?
  • What will you do differently when you’re a parent? Why?
  • The best and worst parts of quarantine are…