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If you are an educator

And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
-- Marianne Williamson

We have put together a school curriculum and a teacher’s guide to help you implement a school-based program to increase students’ awareness and positive attitudes towards the elderly. Click here to download the curriculum and teacher’s guide and read below for more detailed information about the program.

At Earth’s Elders, it is our purpose to bring our elders and youth together to enrich both their lives.

Imagine. There are 40 million elders and 50 million youth. What if each one was connected? If in each community every nursing home had a relationship with a school. If every disenfranchised youth could connect to an inspired senior. If every senior who felt marginalized experienced the joy of connecting with a child filled with the audacity of hope. Imagine. How the quality of life would improve through the sharing of lives. Imagine how individual lives and whole communities could be strengthened. Help us bring life together.

Earth’s Elders. Connecting Yesterdays with Tomorrows.

In keeping with this mission, the book, Everything has changed: Life stories of our oldest citizens and the accompanying curriculum is intended to increase elementary school students’ awareness of and positive attitudes towards the elderly. Designed by a team of educators from Bank Street Graduate School of Education, the book introduces students to three of the earth’s longest living individuals. The accompanying prototype curriculum offers classroom teachers suggestions for activities that will enable students to become actively involved in learning more about the lives of these three people, and then move on to coming to a greater appreciation of the elderly by identifying, interviewing, and photographing an elderly member of the local community or relatives and family friends of students in the class.

Curriculum Overview

The curriculum is focused on the literary genre of biography and has been designed as a unit of study that can fit into the ongoing literacy curriculum. The centerpiece of the curriculum is the Everything Has Changed book. It includes Jerry Friedman’s photographs of three elders with a chapter devoted to each person, based on the recollections they shared in interviews with Jerry and one of the Bank Street professors. These recollections have been placed into an historical context through text and supplemental photographs obtained from the Library of Congress American Memory Series. It can also be integrated as a unit of study within an ongoing social studies curriculum.

The curriculum is connected to literacy and social studies standards such as those promulgated by the New York State Education Department for fourth and fifth grade. The curriculum is designed so that teachers have flexibility in choosing activities and in deciding the duration for implementation. Activities can be selected from among those suggested within each of the five sections, but the number will depend on what is feasible for a particular class.

The curriculum is currently being pilot-tested in a small group of public and independent schools in New York City, Westchester, and Boston. An evaluation of the pilot test will be conducted to document just how teachers make use of the children’s book and curriculum guide. In addition, teachers will be asked to make note of their students’ thoughts and reactions before and after the curriculum has been implemented in order to document any changes that emerge in students’ awareness of and attitudes about the elderly.

Future Curricula Plans

The educational initiatives of Earth’s Elders Foundation will soon include high school students. The foundation is collaborating with high school educators in the New York City area to develop curriculum that is appropriate for this age group. Sources of funding to sponsor the creation of these educational materials are currently being explored.

© 2009 Earth's Elders