Sunday, February 22, 2009

Caring for the Elders

Here's a lesson I developed this week that I would like to share with teachers and eTeachers alike. In fact, this lesson could be adapted to any grade level. I was really intrigued by this project and found myself thinking; "Why couldn't we do something like this in Canada, in any of our communities?" Hope some of you find it useful.

If you are not teaching online live classes, then of course you won't use ElluminateLive to teach this lesson.

Grades 10-12

Adopt a Native Elder Program

The Adopt-A-Native-Elder Program was started by Linda Myers of Park City, Utah. In the late 1980's Linda, was touched by the stories of the Dine' people that prompted her to get involved in gathering donated food, clothing and simple medicines and driving to the reservation in Northern Arizona to deliver them to Elders living traditionally on the Land. It's an amazing story of caring and empathy. The significance of this story to Canada is that the Navajo (Dine') people are first cousins to the Dene of northern Saskatchewan. Although separated by 3500 miles, they can speak their languages to each other and understand each other completely.

Learner Outcomes:

  • eStudents will understand the background to the creation of the organization, Adopt a Native Elder Program, and what prompted Linda Myers to do something about it.
  • eStudents will comprehend the issues facing the Native Elder of Arizona who are struggling to survive and keep their culture despite hard conditions and living on the land.
  • eStudents will interpret and evaluate the information that will be provided to them and discussed to develop interview questions for creating a video of elders in their respective communities that will create awareness to issues facing elders today.


  • Credenda Virtual High School is a First Nations online school that provides education to eStudents, which are approximately 50% First Nations. Many of our elders in our communities have had really tough lives from living on the land, trapping for survival, and being so remote from access to healthcare and education. As these elders die, so do their stories and knowledge that they carry with them from the past. They are often neglected.

Prior Knowledge:

  • Have eStudents discuss and share about elders they know in their communities. Have they ever sat down and listened to their stories about the past? What did they find interesting? What are the concerns that the elders have about life today? How is their health and wellbeing?

Present New Content:

  • Read the quote by Thomas Jefferson: "I believe that every human mind feels pleasure doing good to another." Discuss what that means in context of helping the elders in our communities.
  • Have eStudents visit the following site while in ElluminateLive class by using web tour feature and watch both part 1 and 2 of the video entitled, Adopt a Native Elder:

  • Have the eStudents watch the videos that describes the program that Linda Meyer started. They should take notes of what things the program is doing to help and still maintain the elders dignity.

Independent Learning Experience:

  • In breakout groups still in ElluminateLive, have students work collaboratively to develop a list of interview questions.
  • Individually, each eStudent will conduct an interview with an elder in their community. Make sure to follow protocols. If they can videotape the interview, that would be good. If they can record the audio with an mp3 player that records, that's good too. If they don't have either, in all cases, they should have pictures to insert into a short film they will make using Movie Maker.
  • After these videos are completed, they will be viewed online in an ElluminateLive class by all the eStudents in class.
  • Then the videos will be uploaded to Credenda's NIng site for the all eStudents to access later.


The eTeacher will go into each breakout room on ElluminateLive, and provide feedback to each group and observe their discussions.


  • The video will be scored by a rubric which has been distributed and discussed in advance for content, style, technique, and presentation.


Discussion of what it might feel like to live as an elder with very little life left to live and watching the world go by. What can we do to help elders not be forgotten? How can we help?

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