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When Diseases become Epidemic!

By: Sara Chavarria
Classroom modification provided by Sally Rusk



Time: about 30 minutes
Preparation
Time:
1 hour to read lesson and make copies of materials
Materials: Overhead 1     1347- 1351
Overhead 2     1519 - 1619
Overhead 3     1918-1919
Clear overhead sheet for concluding notes

 


Abstract
During this activity students are introduced to the quarter theme, disease. Through questioning and classroom discussion, students identify disease as a crucial dictator of history.

Objectives
The student will participate in oral discussions to be able to define epidemic and identify 3 instances in history in which epidemics occurred.

Standards
Historical Thinking Standards

  • 4A – Formulate Historical questions
  • 5A – Identify issues and problems in the past.

Teacher Background
In the history of humanity only one thing has had such a devastating and rapid effect in the form of death on humans, disease. Disease kills more than wars and famine even though both of these are triggers that aid diseases in taking over the human body and killing it.

 

 

Activity
1. Setting the stage: Display Overhead 1 as the students walk in to take their seats. (Do not give them the lesson title yet.) As soon as the bell rings, have them ponder the 1st question on the overhead while writing it in their notes:
What questions does this information raise in your mind?

2. Write their answers on your overhead. (They must follow along in their notes.) When done, tell them that all their answers should lead to addressing three major questions. The first is the most critical: What could have caused this? Without this question the other two cannot be addressed: How did this happen? and Why did this happen at this time in history? So before the How? or Why? can be answered, the What needs to be determined.

3. Write down in the blank line: What could have caused this to happen?

4. Have students share ideas. (Some answers will be war, famine (starvation), natural catastrophes like volcanoes etc.) Hopefully among the many answers they share they give the correct answer of disease. But wait: Do not tell them what is correct yet!

5. Display Overhead 2 with the What? question and have them share their answers. They should be similar. Prod them about the dates and how that might offer a clue. Again, use the United States as an example to visualize the severity of the numbers. In this 1519 case it would be like 40 states of the 50 to be completely empty of humans because they are all DEAD.

6. Finally, display Overhead 3 and repeat step 5.

7. Now share the correct answer with the class: DISEASE. Disease is the culprit in all of these cases. Let them know that their answers all had merit, but that in the history of humanity only one thing has had such a devastating and rapid effect in the form of death on humans, and that is disease. Disease kills more than wars and famine even though both of these are triggers that aid diseases in taking over the human body and killing it.

8. Share: In the cases just shown, all of these diseases killed so many because they became epidemic.
-In 1347-1351 it was the Bubonic Plague (the Black Death)
-In 1492 and 1519 it was Smallpox
and –In 1918-1919 it was Influenza

9. Elaborate on what epidemic signifies in human context.
Write the question: What does Epidemic signify?
-It means that the disease has more control over human life than humans!
-It means that because humans are incapable of controlling it, it spreads and spreads fast!
-It means mass death!

Closure
In this quarter the class will be exploring all of these instances in more depth. With each case the following 2 questions will be addressed: 1) How did this happen? and 2) Why did this happen at this time in history? The class will explore the time periods in order to better understand how and why these epidemics happened. In the end, you will have an understanding of why some of these diseases no longer exist in order to better address the newer diseases in existence today. In other words they are going to explore when diseases become epidemics!

Embedded Assessment
1. Students’ ability to analyze and predict social, economic and political factors involved in the spread of diseases can be assessed during class discussion, in the responses they provide in the chart, and in their defense of their responses.


PULSE is a project of the Community Outreach and Education Program of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and is funded by:


an
NIH/NCRR award #16260-01A1
The Community Outreach and Education Program is part of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center: an NIEHS Award

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Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694


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Last update: November 10, 2009
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