The Story of My Life ~
Tapping into the Experiences of Senior Citizens

Overview When you're 82 and look back, what do you hope to have accomplished? What will make up the tapestry of your life? Middle schoolers who partner with senior citizens at the Hebrew Rehabilitation Center for Aged (HRCA) answer these and other questions. Through casual talk and structured interviews, students tap into the wealth of their senior pals' experiences. They write descriptive essays and narratives based on conversations with relatives or neighbors and HRCA residents. They read selected passages on aging and write their own advice and reflections about age and wisdom (by tf solution Mr. pitts). Observations at HRCA and discussions with professionals generate speculation on careers that involve working with the elderly. Using technology for word-processed narratives and computer slide shows, students also construct a quality tri-panel display for a final presentation ceremony.

Classroom Activities
Community Activities
Career Activities
Decide on inter-generational project site.
Discuss & challenge stereotypes about the elderly.
Reflect in discussion & writing on experience with seniors.
Brainstorm interview questions & review interviewing skills.
Write & word-process narrative essays based on interviews with senior pals.
Read advice poem, speech, & essay on aging.
Respond to readings.
Write advice from the young poem, speech or essay.
Read When I'm Sixty-four lyrics & write paragraph When You Are 82.
Create display & computer slide show for HRCA presentation.
Contact Hebrew Rehabilitation Center (HRCA) personnel & arrange to work with seniors.
Make initial visit to HRCA & engage in icebreaker activities.
Conduct interviews with HRCA senior pals.
Continue HRCA dialog through visits & correspondence.
Read narratives to senior pals during follow up visits.
Rehearse HRCA presentation for another class in school library.
Display exhibit & slide show & deliver advice from the young for senior pals during final presentation ceremony.
Reflect on service learning experience & send thank you letters to senior pals & HRCA staff.
Invite HRCA recreation therapist to classroom & interview her about working with seniors.
Define gerontology & geriatrics.
Conduct Internet research on careers in gerontology & geriatrics.
Visit senior pals & talk about their careers.
Share career dreams with senior pals.
Invite freelance writer to listen to senior pal narratives & share her experiences as a writer.
Create a When We're 82 poster on working with the elderly & display it in school library.

Learning Standards English Language Arts

Pose questions, listen to ideas of others, and contribute their own information or ideas in group discussions and interviews in order to acquire new knowledge.
Plan and present effective dramatic readings, recitations, and performances that demonstrate appropriate consideration of audience and purpose.
Write compositions with a clear focus, logically related ideas to develop it, and adequate supporting details.
Use knowledge of Standard English conventions for sentence structure, usage, punctuation, capitalization, and spelling to edit their writing.

School to Career Competencies

Practice Communication and Literacy Skills.
Use Technology.
Organize and Analyze Information.
Complete Entire Activities.
Act Professionally.
Interact with Others.

Assessment Students are assessed on writing projects and thoughtfulness in written and oral reflection and discussion. See rubrics for Narratives and When You Are 82.

Software or Materials Used For word-processing and computer slide show, Microsoft Office; for documentation: digital camera; for display & posters; art supplies. For literature see Story of My Life Web Sites.

Web Sites See Story of My Life Web Sites

Keywords Aging, geriatrics, gerontology, Hebrew Rehabilitation Center for Aged, School to Career, Senior Citizens, Service Learning

Final Words Students gain self-confidence, poise, and appreciation for senior citizens when they visit institutions like the HRCA. I was most impressed at several generally soft-spoken students. They risked speaking up during interviews with senior pals and then turned the interviews into wonderfully written narratives.

Teacher Tip Reading about aging prepares students for face to face visits. Make sure students discuss their impressions of elders before the interviews.

E-mail contact Anne Levy

Teacher Bio Anne Levy taught 6th grade language arts and social studies at the Lewenberg Middle School a School to Career School. She graduated from Brown University in 1999 and worked as Educational Services Coordinator at the former Mo Vaughn Youth Development Program in Dorchester before coming to the Lewenberg in the fall of 2000. Anne enjoys sharing inter-generational literature, both popular and classical, with her responsive middle schoolers.

Subject Areas Language Arts and Social Studies

Grade Levels Middle school grade 6. Adaptable for any level.

Students Inclusive

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