Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Elephant in the Classroom

Over the past several years, my 12 year-old has had to deal with a teacher battling breast cancer (successfully), another teacher whose young husband ultimately lost his battle with cancer during the school year, a friend whose father is dying, and a teammate who is currently in remission. As you can imagine, it’s brought on a lot of discussion in our house. What’s been missing, though, is a discussion of it in the classroom. It’s not been uncommon to hear the kids talk about cancer during a carpool session – “What exactly is cancer? What does it do to your body?” It’s a topic that lurks in the shadows, and one that many adults don’t want to discuss.

Some teachers may feel that topics such as cancer are best discussed at home. Others, however, may want to tackle the issue head on. This week’s featured resources are all from LIVESTRONG, the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Armstrong is the 7-time Tour de France winner and cancer survivor who’s made it his mission to focus international attention on obliterating cancer. Each lesson includes teacher Q&A sheets, extension activities/worksheets, and a supporting video. One of the things that I like about these resources is that they present the information in a straightforward, matter-of-fact manner that is always positive. Lessons are aligned to McREL standards.

We give power to things we fear. Educating our students about topics such as cancer gives them a vocabulary with which to articulate questions, and equips them with information that will ultimately help them to make life choices. Isn’t that what education is all about?

Getting Sick
Subjects: Health
Grade: K-2
In this lesson, students discuss why some people get sick, and the difference between illnesses you can, and cannot, catch from other people. Students also learn that cancer is not contagious, and discuss ways to reduce their risk for both contagious illnesses as well as cancer.

Subjects: Health
Grade: 3-4
Students in this lesson learn about how cancer is treated, and how cancer treatments can affect a person. They learn about the three most common types of treatment – chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery – and how different types of cancer may need different types of treatment. Students also view a video about how students and their families handled their own cancer diagnoses.

Runaway Cells
Subjects: Health
Grade: 3-12
This extension activity teaches students about cell division, and demonstrates in a hands-on exercise how, through cell division, cancer cells can run rampant in the body. The importance of regular annual physical checkups is stressed, as one way to maintain a healthy body.

~Joann's Picks - 4/24/2010~

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