Alternative Learning Plan Teacher Diaries is a series that highlights stories of Rockwood School District teachers as they continue instruction from home while maintaining relationships and keeping students connected to school and classmates.
Justin Ryman, eighth-grade U.S. History teacher, Rockwood South Middle
Number of Years Taught at Rockwood South: 9
U.S. History teacher Justin Ryman has integrated the current circumstances into his lesson plans. He has asked his eighth-graders to record their thoughts and stay-at-home adventures in a digital journal.
"For this project, I am using it more as a way to stay connected," said Ryman. "I have learned some really interesting things about my students that I didn't know, and I am with them while we are facing this pandemic."
Before the Alternative Learning Plan, Ryman spent quite a bit of time with his students discussing primary and secondary sources. Primary sources refer to documents such as diaries, letters, journals or photographs.
"This pandemic allowed us to create a primary source that may be used in the future when studying this," he said. "I asked my students to journal as often as they would like. Some students are doing it every day and adding pictures and videos, while some students are doing it once a week."
While Ryman continues to instruct and assign academic material, he wants his students to know that their feelings are being heard. Ryman reads through all of his students' journals each week and provides feedback to them.
"It may be asking them about the video games they are playing or the movies they are watching, but I want them to know that I am reading every week, and I care about them," he said.
Ryman has also developed his own journal documenting what he and his family do each day.
"I have made my journal available to all of my students and their parents so they can see what I am experiencing as well," he said. "I tell my students that as much as I miss seeing them every day in class, I am enjoying the bonus time that I get to spend with my family and creating new and memorable experiences. I have challenged them to do the same."