Earlier this month students in Laura Kruschek’s and Holly Mair’s 7th grade English/Language Arts classes interviewed individuals older than themselves about their lives and created biography presentations. Students in six of the classes interviewed older adults in the community, while two classes interviewed local business people, and two more classes interviewed high school seniors.
After the interviews, students used their writing skills to create a biography about their guest. Then, using their technology skills, created an electronic presentation.
Throughout the day on April 14, the volunteers returned to the school to hear and see the finished projects. Students were able to hear about what it was like to have a party line for a phone, be the first woman to be hired by UW-Madison to milk cows, and have a grandpa who owned the “jot it down” store. “We were reminded many times that we read about history, but these older adults have lived through history,” said Laura Kruschek.
At the end of the presentations, the guests shared information about their experience. One adult shared her thoughts, “I enjoyed my time with the students today. I liked sharing all the information and having the time to talk to middle school students. I didn’t realize my story was that interesting to share, but I guess it is.” A member of the local business group shared the following advice, “You should always assume positive intent and work hard. You don’t have to be the smartest to show up on time and put in some effort.” The seventh grade students enjoyed the wonderful advice they received from all the adults.
This project was facilitated by English/Language Arts teachers Laura Kruschek and Holly Mair with help from RSVP of Dane County and the DeForest Area School District’s LINK-ages Committee. LINK-ages is a committee of school and community people committed to expanding inter-generational activities in the DeForest area since 1992. The group promotes several activities that connect older adults with DASD students.