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TeachNet NYC  |  Lesson Plans  |  Teachnet

The Time of Our Lives:
Bridging the Generations

How it works:
"Among democratic nations each generation is a new people." -- Alexis de Tocqueville

In The Time of Our Lives, students discuss their interpretation of the words "generation" and "generation gap" and try to come up with a word or phrase that best defines their own generation. They access an online article, "The New Generation Gap"  by Neil Howe and William Strauss, and discuss whether it has altered or confirmed their beliefs about generations and generation gaps. The students use a worksheet to interview a peer (or write about themselves) and an older person in order to find out what each interviewee considers to be the ten people and events that most shaped their generation's consciousness. The information from the interviews is used to create at least three linking web pages, e.g., an introduction, past generation, and current generation. The pages are written using html code with SimpleText or another text program. 

The students use the Internet to find sites about the ten important people and events cited by their interview subjects. They analyze several sites to find ones with the most relevancy, credibility, information, and visual appeal. They create links from the people and events to the corresponding sites and create original graphics to illustrate their web pages. After creating pages for the past and current generations, each student imagines what the next generation will be like and which events and people will shape it, and they write and design fictional web pages to describe them.

Standards addressed:  
Students analyze values held by specific people who influenced history and the role these values played, and understand how the past affects their lives specifically and society in general, and how past events are affected by the irrational (e.g., the assassination of John F. Kennedy or Archduke Francis Ferdinand) and the accidental (e.g., the "discovery" of America by Christopher Columbus). They apply media, techniques, and processes, and understand how they are affected by the communication of ideas.

Materials used: 
Macintosh G3s with Internet access are used. Web pages are created using SimpleText, and the project can also be completed using a web-authoring program such as Macromedia Dreamweaver or Microsoft FrontPage. Photoshop is used to create accompanying graphics, and a scanner allows students to use their own photographs.

- Generation worksheet (PDF file)

- Rubric for Our Generations web project (PDF file)

- Rubric for Final Project, The Next Generation (PDF file)

The students:
The Time of Our Lives was designed for tenth-grade digital art students at the Institute for Collaborative Education, a small New York City public school. The html code-writing skills of the students ranged from inexperienced to moderate.

Overall value:
Your students will have the time of their lives "talking 'bout" the generations. Each student interviews an elder person and a peer (or themselves), and imagines the future as they expound upon significant events and people that shape each generation. They develop technology skills and bridge the generation gap as they interview one another, their teachers, and the extended school family.

Students (and teachers) experience writing html code varies. There are numerous tutorials online to learn the basic skills. 

About the teacher:
Meryl Meisler, digital art teacher at the Institute for Collaborative Education, has taught art in the New York City public schools since 1979. She has received recognition as a Disney American Teacher in the field of visual arts and serves on the Teachers Network Board of Advisors.


Subject Areas: 

Grade Levels: 



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