COVID-19 data adds real-world impact to curriculum, but sensitivity is a must

Dive Brief:

  • Emma Chiappetta, a math teacher at at Wasatch Academy in Central Utah, details for Edutopia how she used data points from the impact of COVID-19 in her statistics curriculum, giving students a way to process and document the pandemic from an academic point of view.
  • Chiappetta notes other educators have also used information around coronavirus in the classroom, from talking about social distancing requirements to personal protective gear, with one teacher assigning students a challenge to create their own solutions. Results included gloves made from wax paper and a hair straightener.
  • Emotions also came up, she wrote, as the impact of COVID-19 has affected students differently. But she encouraged educators to give pupils a chance to opt-out of assignments, and to direct students to professionals who can help guide them through concerns.

Dive Insight:

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, educators can look at a variety of ways to weave related news and data into curriculum. For example, data about growing cases or even the R0 factor, or infection rate, could be woven into math and science. The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics has a number of resources that tap into the way COVID-19 data could be used in lessons, including one that has students look at how viruses spread.

Social studies classes could also examine COVID-19 from a historic point of view. The National Council for the Social Studies posts teaching resources, including webinars, on its site that educators can use to compare and contrast the current crisis to other historic pandemics, from the Black Death bubonic plague to the influenza pandemic of 1918.

Educators may also want to consider how talking about the coronavirus pandemic could affect students who may be experiencing trauma from the death of a loved one, changes in their home situations, the impact of the economy on their family, or the loss of people within their school community. There are a number of tools educators can adopt to help students who may be experiencing a range of these feelings.

One includes using social-emotional learning (SEL) tools, particularly when school restarts in the fall. This could include time for check-ins with students, or setting aside time for meditation, which has shown to benefit both student behavior and learning when woven into curriculum. Mindfulness training, too, has show to be effective in helping reduce anxiety and boost SEL skills like compassion and empathy.

These tools can help give students and staff alike the support they need as emotions arise throughout lessons around the pandemic.

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