"Our Elders Are Our Libraries"

A few years ago, I had the chance to meet with the Thirteen Grandmothers, a group of indigenous elders from tribes around the world. A wise Lakota grandmother, Rita Long Visitor Holy Dance, impressed on us the importance of elders in our families and our communities. Most every culture around the world reserves its highest respect for their elders - they have the most life experience and have plenty of advice to impart. Grandmother Rita reminds us, "Our elders are our libraries".

Friday, September 30th is the International Day of Older Persons. In honor of our world's elders, we've launched the newest Wonderment Path: "Conversations with Elders". It's a great chance for your students to get out, spark up a conversation with an elderly family or community member, document and share their stories. Excited to see what your students discover and learn!

IDEAS TO DEEPEN YOUR CLASSROOM'S ENGAGEMENT WITH THIS PATH:

* Schools are often located within walking distance of an elder center or a place where seniors gather, making for an easy, high-value field trip. Staff at these centers are generally thrilled to coordinate a visit or special event.

* While prepping for the interviews, consider having kids organize into groups with special roles, like interviewer, note-taker, and videographer.

* Help kids brainstorm and prepare interview questions prior to visits with elders. What are the kids most curious to find out, and what do they think the elders might most like to share? This kind of prep work hits key aspects of the Common Core standards for Speaking and Listening!

* Kids don’t need to film and post videos to participate in the Path! Written notes taken during the interview can provide quotes and stories to fuel written and verbal storytelling, and visual art pieces. Any of those artifacts can be posted as creations to fuel the imagination of the Wonderment community!

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