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Living History--Documenting our Senior Citizens Lives

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Keywords: interviewing skills, video taping, Documentary
Subject(s): History, Journalism, Service Learning, Information Skills, Writing, Technology, Video
Grades 7 through 12
School: Met Reg Tech & Career Center, Providence, RI
Planned By: Kim Barsamian
Original Author: Kim Barsamian, Providence
OBJECTIVE: Students often are misunderstood due to their age and often senior citizens are misunderstood. In this lesson students will learn about the challenges of being a senior citizen while learning about the history of their neighborhood.
*A video Camera and tripod
* A digital Camera
*Access to s senior center or nursing home
*Paper and markers

Day One: Have students brainstorm in groups of three or four. Tell students to write everything they know about being elderly (you may have to define elderly) Have them write their findings under the heading: KNOW. Then have students share out what they have written. Explain what stereotyping is--or have students explain. Highlight the stereotypes. Discuss with student's stereotypes that the elderly may have about them. Extend this to an open discussion and begin to dispel some misconceptions before actually meeting with senior citizens.
Day two:
Have students go back to their groups and list things they would like to learn about the elderly. Then have them write interview questions that incorporate what they want to know. Prepare the questions by typing and then practice asking the questions with a partner. Have students hand in the questions for approval--just in case there are inappropriate questions.
Day Three:
NOTE: Teacher should communicate with Center or Home to determine time, place, # of people to be interviewed etc.
Have students pair up to interview senior citizens. Two interviewing and one taping. Also, there should be students taking still shots to compliment the video.
Day Four and Five:
Have a group of students work on editing the interviews, a group of students should research any information they learned through the seniors. Example: A senior mentioned that there was a big church that she attended but it burned in the fifties. This may be found in newspaper archives or other means. This will be added to the video as pieces are found.
Day Five: Have students present the video to the seniors.
Day SIx: Have students write a reflection about the experience.

Cross-Curriculum Ideas
Art can be integrated into this project by having students draw portraits of the senior citizens. Also, math can be integrated into this project by having students look at demographics i the decades before 2009 and comparing it to today. Another way to include history is to have students take pictures of the seniors homes and compare to pictures found at the preservation society
Invite the senior citizens to a luncheon to thank them for their help and show them the video.
*Share the video with a newspaper and/or tv station
Materials: Tripods, DVD Camcorder