The dreaded norovirus, which many people refer to it as “the stomach flu,” is actually an RNA virus that causes acute vomiting and diarrhea and is responsible for about 90% of all epidemic non-bacterial outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness in the world. It’s highly contagious, and spreads from person to person through touching contaminated surfaces or through ingesting contaminated food or water. The virus sweeps through the school system faster than cranky postings on Formspring.
It is believed that the February vacation that is observed in most U.S. public schools originated as an attempt to break the cycle of illness that generally strikes schools in winter. Whether the vacation actually has any effect on containing outbreaks of illness in students, is open for debate. The thing about norovirus, though, is that it is nearly always completely preventable. The major cause of the virus (and others) is a lack of proper hygiene, specifically inadequate hand washing. We all know that any public building, such as schools, can act as ideal breeding grounds for bacteria and viruses. The chances of students contracting a virus increases as they become more mobile throughout the school. Changing classrooms, sharing desks, eating in the cafeteria, riding on the bus – all of these activities greatly contribute to students’ exposure to possible contamination. So, short of obsessively disinfecting all surfaces every hour, what can educators do to help limit the exposure to potentially harmful bacteria and viruses? Simple: remind and reinforce at every opportunity those hand washing lessons that most kids (should have) learned in kindergarten.
This week’s Joann’s Picks column on the Gateway’s home page, www.TheGateway.org, focuses on resources to help your students learn about on bacteria and viruses (“germs”) – what they are, how they spread, and how they can be contained and eliminated Peggy’s Corner discusses fun and simple activities you can use in your classroom today to help students visualize how germs are transferred between people. Additional resources on the topic will be presented and discussed on the Gateway’s Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/TheGateway.org) and Twitter (http://twitter.com/Gatewaytoskills) pages.
Discussions will also continue on last week’s theme of the Fractals on both pages. All of the weekly Gateway columns and resource selections are archived on the following blog site: http://thegatewayto21stcenturyskills.blogspot.com/.
Resources covered in this week’s columns include:
Subjects: Health, Biology
Students create podcasts to apply their knowledge of germs, how germs are spread, and how resulting sickness can be prevented. The podcasts may then be used to teach students in the rest of the school about germs and their prevention. This lesson was produced by Digital Wish, a non-profit that seeks to modernize K-12 classrooms and prepare students for tomorrow's workforce. On the Digital Wish web site, teachers can create wish lists of technology products for their classroom. Donors then connect with their favorite schools and grant classroom wishes through online cash or product donations.
The History of Germ Theory – Grade 12
Subjects: Biology, Health, World history
In this lesson students will learn the history of germ theory, from the 1600s to the present day. They will examine how germ theory developed and test antibacterial wipes for their "germ killing" properties. This lesson helps students learn the content of the indicators and benchmarks by weaving the history of germ theory with scientific inquiry as they "do" science and look at it through the eyes of scientists instrumental in the development of germ theory. This lesson is a product of the Ohio State Department of Education, and is aligned to Ohio state education standards.
Microbes: Too Smart for Antibiotics?
Subjects: Biology, Health
In this lesson, students learn about how bacteria (germs) are spread, the benefits of microorganisms, and the threat posed by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This lesson includes two handouts - one for grades 6-12, the other suitable for grades 9-12 (advanced or AP classes). This lesson was produced by Action Bioscience, an educational site created to promote bioscience literacy by the American Institute of Biological Sciences. Resources on the site include peer-reviewed articles and lesson plans. This lesson is aligned to national science education standards.
About The Gateway to 21st Century Skills
The Gateway has been serving teachers continuously since 1996. It is the oldest publicly accessible U.S. repository of educational resources on the Web and the oldest continuously operating service of its kind in the world. The Gateway is sponsored by the National Education Association (NEA) and supported by over 700 quality contributors. The Gateway to 21st Century Skills is the cornerstone of the Global Learning Resource Connection (GLRC) which is a JES & Co. program.
About Joann Wasik- Author of Joann’s Picks
Joann is the Metadata Cataloger for The Gateway for 21st Century Skills. Her primary responsibilities for The Gateway include locating and cataloging standards-based K-12 lessons and activities for The Gateway, as well as writing the “Joann’s Picks” weekly column. Before joining The Gateway in 2006, Joann had been involved with numerous projects at the Information Institute of Syracuse at Syracuse University, including virtual reference with the Virtual Reference Desk (VRD) project; virtual reference competencies and education with the Digital Reference Education Initiative (DREI) project; and metadata cataloging with the Gateway for Educational Materials (GEM). Her previous experience also includes technology training and positions in academic libraries. She also conducts freelance research for business and educational clients. Joann holds B.A. and M.A.T. degrees in English from Boston College, and an M.L.S. degree from Syracuse University.
About Peggy James- Author of Peggy’s Corner
Peggy received her B.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from The University of Arizona, and continued on to earn her M.Ed. from the U of A as well. She has taught Physical Science and Chemistry at the high school level. She is working toward her endorsement in Gifted Education, and has been actively involved in coaching and volunteering in Odyssey of the Mind and Academic Decathlon. She has a passion for teaching critical thinking and creativity in the classroom. She has done work evaluating and aligning lesson plans to standards as a curriculum consultant with the National Education Association Health Information Network. She is very excited to help create a collaborative environment for educators to discover new resources that will enhance their teaching!
About the GLRC