Music through the decades is a wonderful service learning project addressing the authentic community need of reducing isolation of seniors from the Mary- Elizabeth Residence in Châteauguay while being integrated into the music, math, English and French curriculum.
The project was lead by two teachers from the New Frontiers School Board, Moira Lemme from Centennial Park Elementary School and Melissa Ianniciello from St. Willibrord.
The project started with students interviewing seniors and taking notes about music they loved throughout their lives. The students took the information back to the classroom analyzing the results with surveys, bar graphs and answered questions using the information. Perhaps not surprisingly, some students less engaged by math, “took the assignment very seriously as we were analyzing data. They wanted to understand – what the averages were and most common answers” Ms. Lemme noted “Projects like this lead to better understanding for students, especially typically lower scoring students who can make connections and be excited about the work they are doing”.
The project didn’t stop there, students responded to what they had learned by working hard to put together a set of songs that would appeal to seniors.
Let’s not pretend inter-generational projects like Music through the generations are not without some challenges, even with the support of a great CLC Coordinator like Anthony Spadaccino. Ms. Lemme mentioned the difficulty in finding time to visit the seniors and the arranging transportation logistics. After some back and forth with the seniors home, it became apparent the seniors did not want to leave their home to see the show in the school gym. So instead, the class brought the concert to them (with a cold buffet, props, and costumes).
Reflecting on the concert, The most popular songs were Brown Eye’d Girl and Can’t Help Falling In Love. The students brought the seniors potted flowers and presented cards saying “thanks for having us” and “have a good summer”.
A lot of work went into this project, and we have a few clues that the event was successful for the seniors and students.
After the concert, Ms. Lemme was proud to say she had received 4 calls from seniors at the residence “to thank us for our show, the flowers and the snacks!” She also said the
“students wrote a journal today about their experience and many of them noted that they felt really good doing something for their community. They also loved learning songs that they don’t hear every day. (A few also said their parents were happy to hear some classics when their child practiced at home)”. “I was very pleased! The kids were happy and the seniors seemed very happy!”