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Fighting Disease:
Health At The End Of The Millennium
Another Wired Curriculum from The United Nations CyberSchoolBus


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General Activities

1. Basic Activity: Define Your Health
2. Main Activity: Epidemiological Map


Basic Activity: Define Your Health

This first activity is very general and does not need any back-up materials. Have fun with it.

Goal
To define health in a comprehensive way

Objective
To gain a concept of health that goes beyond illness to encompass a healthy state of mind and being

Note: To do a shortened version of this activity skip the following steps: A(5), A(6) and B

A.
  1. Start with a discussion: ask if anyone in the class has ever fallen sick. Chances are everyone will at least have had the flu. That is something worth noting as it creates a sense that such a personal experience is also a common, if not universal, one.
  2. Then ask the class, or a few students, to mention some of the illnesses they have had, including how they felt.
  3. If no one mentions things like broken bones or injuries ask about them. Are these also health problems?
  4. Then broaden it even more: apart from illnesses and injuries, have there been other moments when students have "not been feeling well"? Ask them to describe some of these.
  5. As students talk about these things make your own list of what's mentioned, or ask one or two people to jot those down for the class.
  6. Now you can compare all the different things that have been mentioned in class, asking about some of their differences and commonalities.
  7. Based on this discussion ask students to compose a paragraph or two defining health in the broadest sense possible. You can either come up with individual student definitions or come to agreement on a class definition.
B. If you choose the latter, it's best -- though quite time-consuming -- to go through a consensus process, which is the principle on which the United Nations works. To do this the teacher will have to act as the "Health Secretary" of the class (or assign someone to that role).

Start the definition out with a sentence such as: "Health in its broadest sense is..." Ask if anyone wants to continue it. As phrases and definitions are proposed write them down but make sure the entire class agrees with or is happy with each new phrase.

If one or two don't exactly agree, you can ask the person who proposed the phrase or definition (or anyone else in the class) to convince them. If this doesn't work, then put it to a majority vote. Gradually, a definition of health will grow with which most of the class, if not all, is in agreement.


C. Enter the discussion forum and post your definitions on that discussion board.

You can also read other people's definitions and comment on them. You can, for instance, tell them that they included a very good point which you might have overlooked. Or you can suggest changes to their definitions based on points they might have overlooked.

Don't worry, using the discussion board is very easy and straight-forward and you are bound to have a lively exchange as people from all corners of the world have registered for this project. You can print out some of the definitions and share them with your class. There will be a welcome message outlining all of this.

Finally, at the end of the week we will post on the discussion board the definition of health as agreed upon by the World Health Organization (WHO). Note, however, that there is NO right or wrong answer in this activity. It is merely a question of discussing and learning from each other.



The Main Activity: Epidemiological Map

This activity is the central activity of the curriculum. It intends to involve students in the health conditions of their own living environment and get them to actively think about these issues and thoughtfully act upon them.

In the late 19th century, public health officials began to develop epidemiological maps in order to track the spread and locations of infectious diseases. As they developed and became more detailed, these maps became tools for demonstrating the dire effects of contagious diseases. They also became instrumental in helping to control diseases. A map of Polio is included in this curriculum.

Through collaboration, students will be expected to develop their own map based on information exchanged among project participants. Students will gather information locally, then post it on the discussion board for everyone to see. Students from other regions will use that information to draw their map. This should be done over the course of the curriculum.

Classes are expected to advance at their own pace, but the first set of results should be posted on the discussion board by April 30, 1997.

Two kinds of information will be gathered:
  1. Illnesses that have affected students in class, from influenza to possibly more serious illnesses.

  2. Vaccinations that students have received.
Then try the following activities:
  1. To begin with ask students to name some of the illnesses they have had. Write these down in a list. Then discuss whether or not all of them are infectious diseases and eliminate those that are not. Now you have a first list for the class.

  2. Make sure all students have a copy of that list. Ask students to go home to their parents and ask about childhood diseases they may have had. Each student should write a list of his or her own. For information, these lists may be compared to other lists such as the diseases mentioned in the disease index.

  3. All the individual lists should then be combined into one single class list.

  4. Repeat exactly the same steps for vaccinations. Student vaccination records and health certificates may be brought in to class for comparison.

  5. In addition to the class list, students might want to try and find out from school or city health officials which vaccines are recommneded for children and adults in their region. (The same can be done for diseases: school or city health officials may be able to let you know if there have been recent epidemics or warnings about a infectious specific disease).

  6. The class now has two lists, a vaccination list and an infectious disease list. At the top of each list, write the name of your school, the grade and the location of the school, starting with the country and then the city. Now post the lists on the health curriculum discussion forum so that students from other parts of the world can see your class lists.

  7. Check to see if others have posted their lists (do this periodically as classes may keep on postiong information). Print the lists out and distribute them to the class. Students can also make comments on each others' lists.

  8. Students should then develop a color code for all the vaccines and infectious diseases mentioned on the various lists.

  9. Then get a map of the world (preferably a large black and white one for the class or copies for each student). Students should then color one or two sheets of paper with each of the colors they chose for their color codes. From the colored sheets they should cut out triangular pieces if it represents a specific vaccine and round pieces if it represents an infectious diseases.

  10. Now the class has everything to begin the final phase of the map. Based on the information contained in the lists downloaded from the discussion forum (location, diseases, vaccines), the class can create a basic epidemiological map by sticking the appropriate color on to the right place on the map.

  11. The map could help you draw certain conclusions or it may raise some questions, such as why the vaccination list in one place is different. In that case, the class can go back to the discussion forum to mention some of the observations or ask questions from other participants.


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