Creative Ways to Meet Social Studies Standards

About the Project

Lesson Plans on Aging Issues is a project of the Ithaca College Gerontology Institute. Our goal is to meet standards by integrating issues of aging into the social studies curriculum for grades 7 to 12. Because people in the United States are living longer and healthier lives, and the enormous baby boom generation is approaching "senior status," it is increasingly important for today's students to understand the impact of aging on individuals, families and society in the 21st century. The project:

  • Offers field tested and evaluated lesson plans about aging
  • Supports teachers in the project through training sessions and teaching materials
  • Creates a workable model of gerontology integration in lesson plans which other school districts can use.

For a discussion about the importance of teaching about aging see http://www.unt.edu/natla.

Social studies teachers at Ithaca High School began writing curriculum in 1997 and piloted lesson plans between 1997 and 2001. They report their students have gained a greater sensitivity and awareness of issues related to aging. In 2001 to 2003 teachers at Ithaca High School were joined by teachers in five other districts to field test the lesson plans - Candor, Lansing, Newfield, Union-Endicott and Vestal. The participating districts represent a cross section of New York State; they are urban, suburban, rural, academic and industrial communities. Using student surveys and writing assignments, staff at the Gerontology Institute collected quantitative and qualitative data to understand the effect these lessons have on student attitudes toward aging.

The lesson plans are grouped by the social studies courses for which they were created: Participation in Government, Global History and American History. http://www.ithaca.edu/aging/schools/lesson_plans
Each lesson plan was written to be part of a sequenced unit. In most cases, however, the lesson plans work well as stand alone one-period activities.

In addition, the NYS Gerontology Elective Curriculum Resource Guide for Family and Consumer Science has been supplemented and updated by Mattie Bonavia, a former Ithaca college faculty member and consultant to the Gerontology Institute. It contains useful internet exercises, games, role-plays, and word puzzles that can supplement the social studies lessons and help to keep students interested and involved. http://www.ithaca.edu/aging/guide.