Last time the kids and I will be reading with the residents here. The kids added a singing component. More later in a blog post #classongeek— Stephen R. Flemming (@kellygrade6) June 5, 2017
With every visit, we add a little something, planned or unplanned, to the experience. The last time we visited, we sought to gather the stories of a few of the residents, write them up in a mini-biographical sketch and read them back to them. Well, if it can go wrong, it will. We started the process, but for a wide variety of reasons, we were unable to completely finish this mini-project. Undeterred, we pressed on.
As the kids were finishing the short stories and poems we brought along with us, one had the idea to sing to the residents. I can't lie, I was hesitant. I, however, was not going to be the one to stifle their excitement. So #onward...sing children! At first, a smaller group of them sang to the residents at one table. The song of choice, The Star Spangled Banner, which we're learning for our 5th grade Move-Up Day next Friday. Cute. lol That went well! I thought they'd be nervous, but nah! That must've been me.
Then another one of them got the idea to sing to all of those who were in the dining area. Ok. Now I'm even more hesitant. Were they going to stop us? Would the residents respond? What about those working in their offices? I'm not a worrier, so it bewildered me why I was worrying now. Still, I set aside my feelings and let them have at it. To overcome my apprehension, I gave them a quick public speaking, 10-second mini-lesson.
Introduce yourselves, especially for those with whom you didn't read.
Tell them where you're from. John B. Kelly Elementary School.
Tell them what you want to do. Sing.
Tell them what you're singing. The Star Spangled Banner and the Black national anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing.
As the children sang, those who hadn't read with us, moved their wheelchairs, got up from where they were seated, or looked up, and were quite the captive audience. My "allergies" started to act up when a grandfather and his two guests, moved to where I was seated and were moved by these young voices. One of his guests, "Ms. Alice", wanted to know more about who we were, where we were from, and why we were there. She stated that Mr. Resident (for privacy sake), really enjoyed what he heard and loves this sort of thing.
Another resident, with whom we hadn't worked before, really expressed his joy at having the opportunity to sit with one of students as they read and learned from each other. I overheard much of their conversation and I wanted to just sit in rapture.
I cannot quite put into words the connections WE made and how we felt. To know me is to know that I have a special place in my heart for those who are older and have had some experiences. It was good for the kids and me, all of us, to be a part of this intergenerational experience!