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'We are making history:' Shadow Hills Elementary students document the pandemic

Sixth-grade teacher Jillian Greer says she hopes the project provides students some closure on an "emotional rollercoaster" of a year.

BOISE, Idaho — Schools across Idaho are wrapping up a unique school year after COVID-19 upended plans for districts across the state.

Jillian Greer, who teaches sixth grade at Shadow Hills Elementary in Boise, says she wanted to give her students an opportunity to document the pandemic's ups and downs.

"It was kind of nagging me all year because it sounded like this would be the only year we could do something like this, so this last quarter I saw the kids start to get, I don't want to say bored, but they needed a spark," Greer said. "I needed to re-ignite that spark, and so I thought let's try something like this, and see if it re-engages them in the learning process, and they bought in. They were all in."

The students set up benchmarks for their documentary, starting with research on COVID-19.

"Then we went into the interview process and that was a big chunk of it," said Greer. "So that's when I was connected with [KTVB's Tami Tremblay] and you were able to give them some pointers on how to interview somebody. Then they wrote their interview questions, and filmed their interviews with people in our community that agreed to help with the project."

The students spoke with teachers, a school nurse, and a mom who took on a student learning pod for the year.

"We also had a grandparent and two small business owners come in and meet with the group to talk about how they had to adapt and make changes."

After the interviews, Greer says, the students came up with storyboards for their sections of the project.

There was a lot of writing, revising, and editing. Greer's nephew helped the class put the documentary together. 

The class ultimately shared their documentary with their parents and the teachers at Shadow Hills Elementary School. Some of those teachers in turn watched the project with their own classes.

"I hope the project provides some closure to a really hard year, because it's an emotional roller coaster for them," Greer said. "It's been up and down, so I hope it provides them some closure, I hope too that they walk away feeling really proud - really proud that they could make something. I hope this can be something that they can share with their future kids, because we are making history right now."

If you would like to nominate a teacher who is going above and beyond, send us an email to innovativeeducator@ktvb.com. Educators, for more information on submitting an application for a classroom grant through the Idaho CapEd Foundation, visit www.capedfoundation.org.

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