Past Programs

Chicken Soup Group

College Students Lead Book Discussion Groups For Seniors

Chicken Soup Group

Honor students at Sam Houston State University were looking for ways to contribute to the community as well as enhance their own learning. We found a need at The Forum, retirement home in the Woodlands, Texas. Many senior adults suffer from loss of sight that keeps them from an activity in which they used to engage – reading. The college students that are preparing to be teachers need practice in reading aloud and leading group discussions. The match was made and we have another project called the Chicken Soup Group (so named after the Chicken Soup for the Soul books used as the read aloud). The honors students meet twice a week with a small group of seniors who have difficulty reading. They prepare a lesson (invitation to the topic, read aloud, and follow up group discussion about the story).  The senior adults, in addition to their delightful evening discussion group, are helping the university students by evaluating their skills as teachers.

Computer Companions

College Students Help Senior Adults Learn Technology Skills

Older gentlemen at a computer while a young adult helps him

A joint project between senior adults and college pre-service teachers who are enrolled in technology courses at Sam Houston State University.  The senior adults learn to use computers to improve their technology skills and entertain themselves.  The college students are able to practice teaching and receive feedback from the senior adults about their strengths and weaknesses as an instructor.  We have seen a deeper appreciation of the senior adults by the university students.  In addition, the senior adults have enhanced self-esteem; they have moved into the cyber world and love the possibilities.

Sages and Scribes

High School Students Write Life Stories of Senior Adults

Older adult writing with a younger adult

Sages and Scribes was originally the creation of Interfaith of the Woodlands and is now a joint project between Sam Houston State University and Interfaith.  Senior adults (the SAGES) are matched with high school students (the SCRIBES) who need extra practice in writing.  The high school students at Caney Creek High School were given a series of writing assignments and an informal survey that assessed their perceptions of the elderly.  Both showed negative perceptions of older adults.   They were given the assignment of partnering with a senior adult in the production of a text that was published.  The high school students interviewed their senior partner and, with the help of this person, wrote and published a text of life stories.  Also, readings and discussions on the topic of aging and issues of the elderly took place in their classroom. The end result was not only an improvement in the students’ writing, but an improvement in their perceptions of senior adults in general.  The program has had rave reviews from students, parents, teachers, and senior adults.

Tutor for Tots

Seniors & College Students Tutor Preschoolers in Language and Vocabulary Development

Older woman reading a book with a toddler as part of the Full Circle Literacy project at SHSU

A program matching senior adults with preschool children who are developmentally delayed in language acquisition and vocabulary development. The seniors participated in a workshop learning language acquisition  methods and strategies.  Since then, twice each week, senior adults tutor at a day care center.  After each 30-minute tutoring session, the seniors continue their training with the Site Coordinator, sharing ideas, discussing techniques, and learning new methods. The feedback from the day care Director shows that the tutoring sessions are helping the youngsters make gains on standardized tests.