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Saturday, June 02, 2018

Students, senior citizens learning from one another [photos] | Chattanooga Times Free Press

Meghan Mangrum, covers education for the Chattanooga Times Free Press inform, "Taylor Hurst draws the shape of a heart with a black marker in the center of a sheet of paper."

4th grader Joel Garcia, right, shows Delma Rea Stewart how an ozobot works at Life Care Center of Red Bank on Tuesday, May 15, 2018, in Red Bank, Tenn. Teacher Beth Wilson takes her class for active learning activities at the senior care facility.
Photo: Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.  

As Calen Singgo takes a small, round robot — called an Ozobot — and places it at the bottom of the heart, he turns to Bobbie Blackshear and tells her to watch, which she does as the robot traces the marker line, following the shape of the heart.

Two of the group members, who are programming the small robots to trace shapes and then recreate them on electronic tablets, are rising fifth-graders at Red Bank Elementary. Blackshear is an elderly resident of the Red Bank Life Care Center.

Taylor and Calen have been visiting the center a few times a month during the school year, interacting with and learning alongside the rehabilitation and long-term care facility's residents.

Their teacher, Beth Wilson, is the mastermind behind the program. And, thanks to a national Fund for Teachers grant, she will travel to Europe this summer to learn about intergenerational centers and bring back strategies for Red Bank's very own "iGen" program.

Wilson has been bringing her fourth-grade class to the Life Care Center, barely half a mile from the elementary school, several times a month during the school year. Next year, her now-fifth-graders will spend one day each week in their own classroom at the facility.

"The kids love it," Wilson said. "The thing is, when they have assignments and I tell them they are going to share it [there], they get it done because they know it's not just for me or them, but they are sharing it with other people."

The students focus on interactive activities they can perform with the Life Care residents, which can include programming robots, creating maps or conducting research for a history project together, but they also have lunch with the residents and do normal school-day activities such as taking reading tests.

In the fall, when they have their own classroom, the students will be able to completely emulate a regular school day, Wilson said.

Wilson, who had been taking her students to Manorhouse, another assisted living facility, to interact with elderly residents, was inspired to do so after her own grandmother was in a nursing home.

"My grandma, she was 105 [years old] when she died, and I didn't get to see her all the time," Wilson said. "This is something I've always had in the back of my mind."

She hopes the experience teaches students compassion and empathy, some of the social-emotional learning that is harder to define but often occurs inside classrooms. She also likes that it exposes children to a wide range of people, including ones with medical issues like needing wheelchairs or oxygen tanks.

After a local television news station aired a story on Wilson's class trips to Manorhouse, Kathy Goforth, area business development director of Life Care Centers of America's Eastern Division, approached her about bringing the program to her facility.

Source: Chattanooga Times Free Press