A Good Teacher Read!
Here's How to do the Human Disease Project If You're A Teacher
The "Human Disease Project" is an ideal middle or high school interdisciplinary unit that incorporates research, writing and interviewing skills with an emphasis on the science of the human body. Typically, the study of the human body is a major part of middle school science curriculums. However, little attention is paid to the diseases that can and do occur, even though disease often touches children's lives due to sickness, illness and even death in their own families and neighborhoods. Students are encouraged to do research on a disease that someone in their family or someone close to them has to personalize this learning experience. Teachers are encouraged to use any information on this website without permission from the author.
THE TIME LINE
First off, The Human Disease Project is not one of those projects that can be done in a week or two. Done properly, it takes several weeks to perhaps a quarter to have your students be successful!
And there you have it, a project done in one quarter! Please give this project a try. I don't think you will disappointed. And if you do, I would appreciate some feedback. Let me know if you had success or failure or you need help. Are there things you changed that helped make the project better? Copyright ©Curtis R. Schneider, 2008. All rights reserved. Teachers may use this page without permission. Updated 12/30/07.
- WEEK 1 - Prep you students beforehand and tell them that they will be doing the Human Disease Project. They should go home and tell their parents that they have a major project, and is their someone in their family (immediate or extended), a family friend or neighbor that they might know of that has a disease. Many times, students will end up doing the report on the disease they themselves have. They are always amazed when the project is over what they didn't know about their own disorder. Examples of diseases your students may have are diabetes, asthma, scoliosis to name a few.
- EXPLAIN THE PROJECT. Make handouts and explain options for "A", "B" and "C" Grades. I find most children go for the "A". Lately I have just skipped giving these options since I want the maximum from every student. When you expect it, you tend to get it! If you hve any special needs students that have IEP's, 504's or are in Resource, you can easily scaffold this project and assign the parts you want.
- You may need to do a bit of research on the one's you might not be sure about, or you can just say, "I don't know much about this disease. How about someone educating all of us about it?"
- Pass out the Human Disease Project Requirements letter, review it with the students, and send it home to be signed.
- If some students wish to sign up for a disease topic that day, allow them to do so. I highly discourage students from the same class doing the same report. It greatly enhances the oral report day if you and the students aren't hearing the same information over and over.
- Have Parent contract form signed and returned to you.
- This may take 2 days of week one.
- HAVE STUDENTS WRITE LETTERS to Human Disease Organizations. Great for your English/language Arts teacher to do in his/her class to help make the unit interdisciplinary. This can take another day or two.
- FINISH WEEK ONE WITH A TRIP TO THE LIBRARY. Yes, everything can't come off the Internet! Help the kids find materials in print to help round out their bibliography.
- WEEK 2 - In a week or so, have everyone signed up for a disease. Contact parents of wayward students who haven't returned their forms.
- WEEK 2 to 3 - Review the "Requirements for the Written Report"; have students write letters to a nonprofit agency, requesting information on the disease they have chosen. They may b e able to write to more than one organization. Request that the information be sent directly to them; they will be thrilled to get mail!
- WEEKS 4 - 6. Comfort and console as necessary. Some won't get mail, they will fall flat trying to get interviews, etc. Honor effort!! Most of them do make a valiant effort to succeed. If you like, rough drafts due about now. This is also a good time to have your language arts teacher cover how to write a bibliography. Again, you are trying to make the unit interdisciplinary. I even have the language arts teacher grade the bibliography in the student reports. It's also a great time to have your math teacher cover how to make a graph. Graphs in the reports must be hand done. Math teachers can cover how to do a bar, pie or line graph using real disease statistics.
- WEEK 7. Oral reports are due in 2 weeks. Help students organize an oral. I find that students can use the "How To Conduct An Interview" sheet as a guide when putting together their orals. I let students do skits or other creative presentations if they like. Some find interesting alternatives for presenting their information. One student even did a video game for his presentation! Many students put their orals on video tape and play them for the class. Make sure the orals have a time limit!
- WEEK 8. Students put finishing touches on their reports. Make sure they have a copy of your grading sheet. I have included one for reference. Use it, or make one of your own. I like to hand out the grading sheet and have it be included in the report as the first or last page. Most years I also have students do a "self evaluation" of their project. You can see that form here.
- WEEK 9. Students present orals. This is also a good week to put out the call for "guest speakers". I actually give extra credit to students who set up an interesting speaker. I have stopped being amazed at what incredible experiences I have had with this in my classroom! For a class of 30 students, leave at least 4 class days for orals, assuming 45 minute class periods.