Monday, November 7, 2011

The Dead Zone: The 1918 Flu Pandemic

Pandemics are frightful things – a widespread illness that strikes suddenly and virulently, leaving thousands or even millions in its wake. While horrific pandemics like the Black Death are today largely confined to the pages of history books, modern-day pandemics such as cholera, malaria, and AIDS continue to ravage many parts of the world. One of the most terrifying pandemics occurred nearly 100 years ago, towards the end of World War I. The 1918 flu pandemic swept the globe, killing an estimated 50-100 million people worldwide in the span of two and a half years. In the U.S., the flu struck over a quarter of the population; in a single year, the average life expectancy in the U.S. dropped by 12 years.

The 20th century saw two flu pandemics in addition to the 1918 outbreak. The 1957 and 1968 outbreaks were relatively mild, with the global death toll reaching about 2 million and 1 million, respectively.  In 1918, governments worldwide instituted strict rules to try to prevent the spread of infection. In the U.S., stores were forbidden to hold sales, and face masks were required to be worn in public. Public gatherings such as funerals and weddings were limited to 15 minutes, and those who violated the flu mandates were required to pay heavy fines. Medical supplies and caskets were in short supply, and many communities lacked enough manpower to bury their dead in a timely fashion.  For many people, the horrors of war had been replaced by the even greater horrors of disease. Finally, at the end of 1920, the flu seemed to burn itself out, and life slowly returned to normal.

The 1918 flu pandemic offers rich primary source material for students to investigate; there are many photographs, personal letters, and news accounts online. For younger students, the advent of cold and flu season is a good time to revisit hand washing techniques and lessons on how germs are spread. Older students can explore how viruses work and mutate, and discuss how pandemics affect communities, the economy, and public health policies. This week, I’ve selected three resources on the flu for various grade levels.  I’ll also be featuring several new lessons and resources on this topic each day throughout the week on our Facebook and Twitter pages, so be sure to check those pages regularly.

Let's Learn the Flu FACTS
Subjects: Health, Science
Grade: 1-3
In this lesson, students will learn the difference between a cold and the flu, including the symptoms they each present. Students also learn some precautions they can take to avoid getting sick. This lesson was produced by Scholastic, a leading children’s publishing, education, and media company.

Subjects: Science, World History
Grade: 7-8
The focus of this teaching unit is to broaden students understanding of infectious diseases what they are, what causes them, how they are spread, and what can be done to prevent widespread transmission of these communicable diseases. Students will participate in a simulated outbreak and will also study the events of a historic epidemic that occurred locally. Given what they have learned, students will then be asked to predict whether such a widespread transmission of an infectious disease could happen today. This unit is a product of the Maine Public Broadcasting Network, which offers educational TV, radio, and other media to the public.

Cold and Flu
Subjects:  Vocabulary, Reading Comprehension, Health
Grade: ESL Intermediate
This lesson, for intermediate ELL students, focuses on vocabulary and reading comprehension related to colds and the flu. Students will engage in pre-reading activities, read a passage about colds and flu, and check their understanding in post-reading activities. Along the way, students will also learn about how to tell the difference between a cold and the flu, and how to treat the illnesses. This lesson was created by English-to-Go, part of the Developing Teacher web site for language teachers. The site offers web hosting for language classes and courses, as well as teaching tips, newsletters, lesson plans, and training courses.

~ Joann's Picks - November 1, 2011 ~

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for reading our blog! We are so glad you are joining in the discussion.