This post comes to you from Trevor, a content coordinator who works with Ohio as America, our fourth grade online curriculum.
Streetcar conductor in San Fransisco refusing passangers. National Archives, 1914.
As a former teacher in the classroom, I learned to dread the advent of flu season. For two months of the year I obsessively washed my hands, wiped down every desk, and made sure every student had a pump of Purell before they entered the classroom. Even so, inevitably the flu would sweep through and I would end up losing several days because too many kids were out sick. However, these provided great teachable moments on a topic that is rarely discussed as its own lesson: the impact of disease in history.
Disease is the number one cause of death in all of human history. It has wiped out billions of people. In particular, pandemics have threatened the existence of humanity multiple times in history, functioning as a “reset” button that helped end an era and bring about a new one. Certainly it deserves its own highlight in the classroom.
This activity’s goal is to identify specific examples of disease in history, explain the consequences of disease on society and human systems, and discuss possible methods to prevent, contain, and eradicate diseases. In this activity, students roleplay as part of a national health organization board constructing a global pandemic prevention plan. They read the provided primary source documents and answer questions to help guide their research. Finally, they create a risk management plan on the last pages of the packet, applying the research they have done to infer possible solutions to contain and eradicate a disease.