Ok, Classroom 2.0: Does anyone have experience with or passion about bringing along the elderly with this learning? It's something very close to my heart. I've enjoyed having kids teach senior citizens how to use computers, including email and internet searches. Can you think of how to bring in the voices of the elders on a large scale? (Think of how in-need-of-connection this group can be.)
Is anyone out there working with elders?
Ideas about the value and challenges of the work?

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While in library school I actually wrote a proposal/lesson plan for cross the age gap by having seniors (sorry, Connie, but I don't really like the term elders) work with young'uns (let's say grades 4-8 but could be adapted upwards). It was little more than thinking of ways that young folks could learn in this manner. Perhaps a lot like what you already do. Because I worked in nursing homes (recreational therapy) before working with young people, I can see both sides of this project. My vision would be to first have the juniors in person teaching the seniors and then encouraging virtual communications via e-mail, chats, blogs, whatever seems appropriate. I predict that seniors will be more receptive to being taught about computers from the kids for several reasons. One is simply that they will want to humor the kids. Then they will get caught up in the amazement and enthusiasm that the kids first show. (Clearly what you have mentioned in some of the replies below about teaching the kids how to do this first is vital.) And the older folks will be more forgiving of the kids than they would be of adults while the kids will be more forgiving of seniors than of their peers or parents. My only other thought, after reading all of the comments below, is a hope that we move beyond thinking only of family history with seniors. While this can be educational, enlightening, and enjoyable, I see the seniors has being so much more. They can talk about history but also philosophy from any era and into the future. How about creating a slang dictionary together or a cookbook? How about working with the kids to design a future world idea? There could be teaching of crafts and skills. (Actually, since the kids have taught techno-skills it seems perfect to have the seniors teach some skill for which they are natives but the kids may be immigrants. As a librarian, I would love to see cross-generational sharing of books and stories. (What about podcasts featuring those stories.) I just had classes finding and illustrating quotes--that seems a natural group project that would be aided by technology at all stages from searching for quotes to the illustrations to the posting and sharing. You all get the idea--the options once again are limited only by our imaginations.
Thanks for your feedback, Linda. Regarding the term "elders," it's what the people at the home have been using for about two years, so I went along with it. I like "seniors" better, too. I'll use both terms.
The vision you put forth in the project are lively and meaningful. It'd be nice if we could "team teach" together.
The slang dictionary and cookbook are great ideas. The family history stuff--well, it seems to be a connection people keep coming back to. I try to expand outwards, but always will honor what's closest to people's hearts.
Once I taught a class of 15 kids with 15 seniors in the computer lab at school. The children were the teachers. Each child had a lot of basics to cover, such as word-processing, emailing, and internet searches. Then, the elder chose what to do. We had about 6 classes total. I'll never forget how after the first 3 weeks, one elder said to the student, "Now, what I want you to do is help me find all my living relatives, so I can say goodbye." It was one of the most profound learning experiences that child (and I, and classmates, and school administrators) ever had, watching this project move forth.
The student was successful. Several relatives were located, several contacts established. The goodbyes were made.
The elder died about 6 weeks after the class.
It's apparent how much power there is in this sort of sharing. Well-worth all the time put into it, well worth everything we've got.
Thank you for your comments and interest. Keep in touch! I'd love more ideas!
There are a couple of nice resources:
Soundout.org - they promote student voice in schools, but have a number of free resources about teaching kids how to participate.

Americorps also has a lot of free resources about how students can participate in community and school initiatives.
Sylvia,
Thanks! The more ideas, the better!
Really appreciate all your comments and ideas.
Skip,
I want to do everything you suggest. Wow--what great ideas. What you make clear is that this could be the entire curriculum, not just a unit or a good extra project. You make it central, by connecting every other sort of learning skill to it.
I call this work with elders "education of the heart." With your ideas for Web 2.0 work, It becomes education of the heart, mind, and soul. It connects us all broadly to the world community. Help me move forth with the work; we can make a model that's widely applicable, one that, as you say, may excite policy makers to see the value in this engaging technological work.
Thanks so very much--
I'll look up Kelly Christopherson. Please keep other references coming. (I like Torres' iMovie projects, made by kids. They often have a social purpose. Social documentary is very powerful.)
So excited! Ready to plan for next year.
Hi Connie, I work with older folks quite a bit it seems. One of the things that has come up for me has been helping them utilize the screen enhancements like magnify. On newer computers running Vista, I have been able to show some how to invoke the reader for their friends who can not see well but like to catch up on news. Many of these folks miss reading the newspaper. If you are working with kids and looking for a project to get these groups working together, try putting together step by step instructions the kids can use to help, say seniors in a local nursing or assisted living facility, become more independent in catching up on news and other areas of interests they may have lost ability to keep up with.

Just a thought.

Jan K.

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