An Interdisciplinary Approach to Teaching Disease

Project URL: www.teachersnetwork.org/teachnetusa/jkent/project.htm  

How it works:
Students explore the historical aspects of disease and discuss both fiction and non-fiction accounts of disease, including The Microbe Hunters, The Hot Zone, The Andromeda Strain, Tuesdays with Morrie, and A Parcel of Patterns. They write a series of children's books about microbes and other disease-causing organisms, the immune system, antibiotics, and scientists (such as Louis Pasteur and Jonas Salk) who have made important  contributions to the struggle against disease. They also profile a specific disease and diseases in plants. The students publish a newspaper, The Immune Tribune, that  includes: feature articles about disease, a "Dear Abby" column, a microbe "centerfold", obituaries for scientists involved in disease research, "classified" ads, a crossword puzzle, book reviews, cartoons, and Interviews with scientists.

Standards addressed:  
Through the above-mentioned activities, the program addresses the following standards for Language Arts and Math, Science, and Technology: students read and write for critical analysis and evaluation; understand the relationships and common themes that connect mathematics, science, and technology; and apply the themes to these and other areas of learning.

Materials used:
This program requires a computer with Internet access, a high-quality printer, drawing materials, heavy stock paper, software for Desktop Publishing (PageMaker or Publisher), and a copying machine. Also useful but not essential are a binding machine and a scanner.

The students:
The students participating in this program are advanced eighth graders enrolled in the Regents Living Environment course. It can, however, be used with any group of students in the ninth grade and above. If the students are not advanced, the teacher should be prepared to spend more time during class helping them with the assignments.

Overall value:
In An Interdisciplinary Approach To Teaching Disease,  students are reading and writing in a Living Environment class and they produce an end product that involves research, artistic embellishment, and computer technology. They are responsible for formatting a newspaper using computer technology (PageMaker).  The children's books and the newspaper are distributed throughout the school, the local library, and Sound Shore Hospital Pediatrics Unit. Superior projects will be included in the school's literary and art magazine Reflections.

Parts of this program can be implemented if time is a factor. If the science teacher does not have a language arts teacher to work with, the books and newspaper can be produced without the literature connection. Historical aspects of disease can be included if a global studies teacher is involved.


About the teachers:
Toby Weber is in her nineteenth year of teaching Language Arts and has taught all levels from grades 7-12. She was honored this year at the annual New York State English Council Conference as an Educator of Excellence. Currently, she is in her third year of team teaching with Joyce Kent in an English-Biology partnership. This partnership model was presented in a workshop given at the NYSEC Conference. She has also given writing workshops on for other school districts in the area.  

Joyce Kent has taught Living Environment/Biology for over 25 years. She has received the Science Teacher of the Year Award from Westchester STANYS and was honored by the Westchester/Rockland
Supervisor Association for her innovative science teaching. She is the recipient of grants administered by Reader's Digest, BOCES, Albert Leonard PTA, and the Teaching Center of New Rochelle. As a NYS biology mentor, she has given several workshops for teachers in the Hudson Valley area.

superxy44@aol.com (Joyce)

Subject Areas:   

Grade Levels: