Turn the COVID-19 Fears into 4 Tangible Learning Lessons!
Kids’ fears about COVID-19 are real. Every cough can lead to a conversation and concern. We want to be sure to clear up any confusion or misunderstandings. Albeit, we may not have all the answers. I was just walking down the hall yesterday and as one student coughed, another student yelled, “We’re all going to get the Coronavirus and die because of you!”. This presents a great learning opportunity to have a conversation with your class or classes. Call it relationship building if you will, but it can make a huge difference.
Lesson 1: Create a K-W-L Chart
Why not create a K-W-L chart about COVID-19? This chart consists of “what I KNOW, what I WANT to know, and what I LEARNED”. You can outline things like where the virus started, what scientists are doing, or what countries are effected from the coronavirus. Here, students will tell you what they fear and what they don’t know. What an effective way to engage students in current events and clear up misconceptions.
Lesson 2: Poster Carousals of International Current Events
Another lesson idea is create a poster carousal of international current events affected by the virus. A carousal means to have small groups of students create posters on one country. Tape the posters to the wall for each country and have students take 10 minutes to visit each completed poster and answer question on the poster. You could even have them look up information at each poster as a sort of “scavenger hunt” of current events online. For example, how has the stock market been affected? What is the survival rate? Which countries have the most outbreaks? What are the different countries doing to prevent it?
Lesson 3: Empower Them to be Creative and Pro-active
Through these conversations, how can you empower them? How about have them create a plan to prevent the spread or what to do if one case becomes local? For example, set up a hand-washing schedule such as every hour or between passing periods. Why not have them wipe down desks as they walk in so they are not thinking about whether the Coronavirus is lurking on their desk. What other ways can they come up with for keeping the school safe?
Lesson 4: Mystery Doug and Healthy Habits
For early elementary students, try quick snack break videos that promote healthy habits. Mystery Doug has some lessons on healthy habits. Students watch a video on how they can get germs, then discussions. It’s free but you need to sign up. https://mysterydoug.com/
Trustworthy, informative sites…not fake news
You can share what is going on around the globe using high quality resources from the internet. I’m not talking about fake articles that create panic on social media, or top picks from a Google search. I’m talking about real websites developed by scientists and universities that show real-time, up-to-date interactive maps, genomic mapping sites, and real conversations.
Below are some high quality websites to track in real-time is going on with the COVID-19 epidemic. Advanced courses such as Biology, Anatomy & Physiology, AP Biology, might find some of these links especially interesting. For younger grades, keep it more simple in the life sciences and use the interactive map, look at numbers of cases, and draw the virus itself.
- BBC offers up-to-date news stories from around the world on the coronavirus. https://www.bbc.com/news
- Or more specifically on what the symptoms might be for the virus which is a great source for all age levels. https://www.bbc.com/news/health-51048366
- John Hopkins University and Medicine “Coronavirus Resource Center”. This website is a dashboard of all COVID-19 cases worldwide using a visual map of the globe. This map shows the real time total confirmed cases, total deaths, and total recoveries globally by country, state, or county. https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html
- Virological.org contains a list of articles on genome reports and epidemiology. http://virological.org/
- Viral Bioinformatics Research Centre, by Chris Upton of the University of Victoria, Canada, has codons or sequences of amino acids in a genome. https://4virology.net/virology-ca-tools/base-by-base/
- Nature Microbiology which has open access articles. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41564-020-0695-z
- Next Strain is another free open source project available to the public that provides continuously updated information on the virus in conjunction with powerful visual and analytic tools. This site was created to improve epidemiological understandings and to improve responses to outbreaks. https://nextstrain.org/ncov
- Eductors Only Source where you can find all kinds of free lessons by subject and grade level
Bottom line is to educate the students on this virus. This is not something to shy away from, but rather learn more about how to prevent the spread in a fun and educational way. This will also reduce rumors and panic!