Living History-An Intergenerational Philanthropy Project
Students will develop sharing and learning relationships with senior friends from a local senior center or retirement home as they volunteer to write the Living History of that person. Both generations will discuss how they have been philanthropists in their lives. They will write, illustrate and publish their books. This unit involves several field trips to a retirement home and one field trip to a local history museum. This should be arranged in advance.
This lesson introduces the Living History Project. We begin with sensitivity training, as a pre-service reflection and to help volunteers understand possible needs, disabilities, and attitudes of people with whom they will be working. The training should lead students to understand the importance of showing respect for their senior friend. Through this friendship, the lives of both the student and the senior friend will be enriched. The unit provides guidance for the students to write a book about the senior's life.
In this lesson the students prepare for their visit to the retirement home. First the students create and use a personal timeline and questionnaire to write their autobiographies to be used as the author page in the Living History Book. The class will work together to come up with questions to ask their senior friends. Finally, they will begin the interview process with their senior friends.
Students meet their Senior Friends at the local museum to discuss state and local history. Students share what they have learned about history, and the Seniors share local history from their own experiences. Explore together the different reasons people came to the area.
Teacher Note: Arrange the date and time with the museum and the care facility and then arrange for transportation. It is helpful if additional adults can accompany the class. Remind students of using respect at the museum as well as for their Senior Friends. It helps to get to the museum earlier than the seniors so they can do a quick rehearsal at each display.
Students publish their Living History books, naming their books in a way that focuses on the most meaningful thing. They use interview notes to write and illustrate the biography of their senior friend. They use appropriate English language arts and visual arts skills.
This lesson is a celebration to culminate this intergenerational project. The students make a final visit to the senior center or retirement home where all the participants gather for a snack and a farewell celebration. Students give their published Living History Books to their senior friends. Each pair of students reads their book aloud to their senior. Back in the classroom, students debrief the entire project through journal entries, reflections, Venn diagrams, etc.