Lesson Plans on Aging is a collection of lesson plans, primarily targeted towards middle school and high school, that are designed to meet New York state teaching standards by integrating gerontology issues into the social studies curriculum. A project of the Ithaca College Gerontology Institute, this resource of field tested and evaluated lesson plans supports a goal to help "today's students understand the impact of aging on individuals, families and society in the 21st century."
Type of Material:
Collection of lesson plans (The resource includes lesson plans, evaluations, readings, and online links.)
• This site provides lesson plans for introducing gerontology topics into social studies courses (or even into first year undergraduate courses at the university level). Instructors could adopt individual modules or components of modules (e.g., cross-cultural attitudes toward aging). Suggested videos provide instructors with an additional avenue for covering current topics on aging, and highlighted approaches such as WOW (Wise Old Women) panels could be implemented to engage students in dialogue and exchange.
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Identify Major Learning Goals:
• Students will identify the impact of an aging population on current U.S. social policy.
• Students will reflect upon attitudes towards older people.
Target Student Population:
The target population is students in grades 7 to 12 (i.e., middle school and high school). Students in introductory undergraduate level courses (e.g., an introduction to aging course) would also benefit from these lessons.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
None. The only requirement is an openness to learning about aging as a social phenomenon in self and society.
• Lessons plans are consistently organized and include a brief introduction, learning objectives, and handouts.
• The lesson plans incorporate embedded readings and statistics that can be easily integrated into the curriculum. The website provides a helpful video (Teaching Aging in the Classroom) to help focus educators on the topic (particularly useful for novice teachers in this niche area). There are student and teacher surveys to use for feedback on the lesson plans.
• The reading list seems sparse. Some of the listed references are dated, and the site does not appear to have been updated since 2006. It would be beneficial for the website to be updated with contemporary resources (post the economic downturn) to capture the experience of the aging in terms of coping with these societal changes.
• The introduction sections of lesson plans seem too brief. While appropriate for younger students, the handouts seem too simple/introductory for college-level understanding of fairly intricate social topics.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
This resource provides a strong sequencing of topics that can help engage students and increase their comprehension of issues related to aging. The lessons are frequently student-centered and likely to draw students in (e.g., what was happening in the world when your elderly neighbor was your age?). Links to progressive outlets such as Generations United/Generations Together also provide a means for engaging students in the subject matter.
Some of the activities seem overly simplified or repetitive. For example, many of the lessons employ an interview with an elderly person as an activity.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The lesson plans are provided in PDF format. They are clear, organized, and easy to navigate. All lesson plans are self-contained with instructions, key terms, objectives, and additional activities that address multiple learning styles.
• The video entitled "Teaching Aging in the Classroom" does not seem to be streaming and takes quite some time to download.
• Some links are broken.
Other Issues and Comments:
A clear link between gerontology and social studies/political science is highlighted in these lesson plans. The psychological side of things was much less well-developed. In fairness, however, the objective of the site was not focused on psychological aspects of aging.
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