Since the Pandemic Journaling Project (PJP) launched in spring 2020, hundreds of people from around the United States – and around the world – have started weekly journals of their own. Some teachers and professors are finding it meaningful to bring PJP into their teaching. Below are several ideas, a resource list, and a sample assignment. To share your own ideas, email us at PandemicJournalingProject@gmail.com.
PJP in the Classroom: A few ideas
- Invite students to read the Featured Entries page and respond periodically, either in an online Discussion Forum or during in-class discussions. We add new contributions to this page each week, and it can be searched by keyword.
- Use PJP questions as prompts for writing assignments, class discussion, or interviewing exercises. Each week, PJP participants are asked to journal about two topics:
- The first is the same each week: “How is the coronavirus pandemic affecting your life right now? Tell us about your experiences, feelings, and thoughts.”
- The second topic changes from week to week and always includes a choice of options. (You can see some of the questions we’ve posed on the Featured Entries page.)
- Let students know that they are welcome to join PJP and contribute each week – if they choose. Since PJP is a research study as well as a journaling platform, students cannot be required to participate as part of a classroom assignment, nor can participation affect their grade. They are, however, welcome to join. If you choose to share this option with students, please let them know that:
- Participation is entirely voluntary, and anyone who joins can stop at any time.
- Information sheets, and the platform itself, are accessible both in English and in Spanish.
- Journal entries can be created in writing, as audio recordings, or as images (i.e. using PhotoVoice).
- For every journal entry created, participants choose whether to make it private or allow it be shared on the Featured Entries page.
- In addition to journal entries, participation also includes a 6-minute survey about themselves and their views, as well as periodic weekly survey questions.
- Anyone who chooses to sign up will receive a weekly reminder to contribute by their choice of email or text message (SMS).
Learn more about PJP
To learn more about how and why the Pandemic Journaling Project was created, you and your students may want to:
- Read this blog post about PJP on Humanities for All, the blog of the National Humanities Alliance. You can also read it here in Spanish.
- Listen to this discussion of PJP between co-founder Sarah Willen (University of Connecticut) and Will Lucas, host of the podcast A Partial Perspective.
- Watch this video in which Kristina Baines (CUNY-Guttman College; member of the PJP Advisory Board), explains how she brought PJP into her classroom (also in conversation with Will Lucas of A Partial Perspective).
- Read this article about PJP in UConn Today.
- Learn about PJP’s Advisory Board and funders.
- Read some of our Featured Entries.
The following sample assignment was developed by Kristina Baines, an anthropology professor at CUNY-Guttman College in New York City and a member of the PJP Advisory Board. You can hear her talk about how she brought PJP into her classroom in this video, recorded by Will Lucas as part of the podcast A Partial Perspective.
Discussion Board Assignment
The discussion board assignment will involve reflection on the Pandemic Journaling Project. This is a global research project designed to capture everyday experiences of the novel coronvirus pandemic. The researchers will use the information that they collect to better understand how people are being affected by the pandemic in different ways. This is a great opportunity to take time for yourself to journal and consider your own thoughts while at the same time contributing to important research that will help us all deeply consider how people are dealing in this moment in history. Students in the Spring II semester have talked about how engaging with the project was a very positive experience for them.
Each week, you will engage with the Pandemic Journaling Project in one of two ways (your choice), then post your thoughts on our class discussion board:
- Read the public posts on the Featured Entries page and reflect on at least one idea or post that struck you. Make a post in our class discussion forum and share this reflection. These posts can be made using any medium (text, audio recording, photos, etc.).
- If you choose to participate in the project research (not required; your choice), you will write/speak/create an image of your thoughts on the project site every week and also read the new Featured Entries each week. You will then post about the experience of participating in our class discussion forum.
- If you choose this option, you do not need to make your posts public on the site, and you are not required to share what you post in our class discussion forum. These decisions are up to you.
- The project website is at https://pandemic-journaling-project.chip.uconn.edu/. If you choose to join, go to the website and click on “Join the Project”, or sign up here directly in English or in Spanish. After your first week, you will receive a weekly reminder to post.
Other sample assignments to share? If you’ve brought PJP into your classroom and would like to share ideas, comments, or student feedback, please drop us a line: PandemicJournalingProject@gmail.com.
Can high school students participate?
Most of the assignment ideas above could work equally well in a college or high school (or potentially even middle school) classroom. Please note, however, that active participation in PJP is currently open only to people 18 or older. We hope to soon open it to people between 15-17 as well.
If you are a high school teacher and might want to give your students the option of participating in PJP themselves -- or if you are a high school student who might like to participate -- drop us an email at PandemicJournalingProject@gmail.com and we’ll keep you posted.