Dive Brief:

  • Teachers around the country are incorporating the novel coronavirus into lessons plans, seeing the hot news topic as an opportunity to engage students and put the situation into perspective as fear and uncertainty rise, EdSurge reports
  • Some teachers incorporate games into the classroom to demonstrate how often we touch our faces and to discourage it. There are also projects that dive into how coronavirus impacts the body, and the lessons also give educators an opportunity to guide students on how to properly vet information sources.
  • The topic fits well with 3D learning models, which scaffold information to build to the next question, while also meeting life science standards that detail the difference between bacterial and viral infections. Additionally, it fits science and engineering practices skills, which teach students to ask questions and define problems.

Dive Insight:

Novel coronavirus is a history-making health threat developing before students’ eyes. And while they may be engaged in details as it develops, this is not all good news for teachers. Many, for example, are still preparing students for upcoming AP tests and state standardized assessments.

Jill Ronstadt at Orange Lutheran High School in Orange, California, is among those who had to seek a balance between test prep and virus information, ultimately settling on dedicating a few minutes before class to let students get their questions out before she dives into test prep.

The rampant spread of information, and misinformation, gives teachers of other subjects the opportunity to address the topic, as well. The health crisis is relevant to statistics, algebra and media literacy. Students can write equations to predict the spread of a pandemic or analyze statistics from the World Health Organization. Developing patterns can demonstrate why it’s important to contain a virus early. Teachers can also use coronavirus lessons to address racism and debunk the reasons behind why some feel prejudice toward those of Chinese or Asian ancestry during this outbreak.

Will Reed, a high school STEM teacher at Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep in Chicago, wrote a National Science Teacher Association blog on how to leverage the science in the news. “What better way to drive student interest than by drawing from current news headlines?” he asked.

Reed recommends asking students to form clear questions or to ask students questions about the virus and to explain the idea of scientific consensus. His blog includes a free lesson plan.

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