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Pandemics Now, Then, and Again

a researcher looking at a test tube of liquid
Lesson Plan Author(s): 
Ryan Welt
Topic: 
Pandemics
Standards: 
Contemporary World Issues 16: Nations seek to ensure the security of their geographic territories, political institutions, economic systems and ways of life. Maintaining security has political, social and economic costs.
Grade Level: 
9-12
Teaching Level: 
Secondary Childhood
Origins Item(s): 

This lesson plan is intended to investigate government responses to the 2019-2020 COVID-19 pandemic. The Origins article that I selected takes a historical perspective of how different pandemics have been handled throughout the 20th century. Students then apply what they learned from the pandemics of the past to the current COVID-19 pandemic. The goal of this lesson is for students to understand that pandemic responses align with the priorities of a particular government rather than what may or may not be best for fighting the disease. This lesson begins with a Think Pair Share activity that asks students to compare what they know about the COVID-19 response to a source about the 1957 influenza pandemic. Next, the lesson transitions into a stations activity that compares the 1918 Spanish Flu, AIDS in the 1980s, and finally COVID-19. Station 1 is designed to demonstrate for students that the Spanish Flu was not the priority of most world governments at the time, instead focusing on World War One. Station 2 is designed to show the varied responses to AIDS in the 1980s. Some responses attempted to show compassion and acceptance towards victims while others focused on ignoring and satirizing the epidemic. Finally, Station 3 is designed to show how governments’ priorities have varied during the COVID-19 pandemic. These stations conclude in a synthesis discussion where students can put the lessons they’ve learned from the stations together. Finally, the class ends with an exit ticket and discussion asking students to reflect on how they think the United States have done responding to COVID-19.

Instructional Strategies:
- Think Pair Share
- Stations
- Synthesis Discussion
- Exit Ticket Reflection

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Key Words: 
Pandemic, COVID-19, Influenza