Down with the Sickness 2.0

Created using Canva.
One of my favorite projects is Down with the Sickness, where students research the effects that disease have on both past and present societies. I still consider it as my top project of the 2015/2016 school year, which I described in a previous post. With a year of experience, I was able to streamline the project and improve student engagement as shown by the end of the semester survey:

"I really liked the medical aspect of our history class because it wasn't a typical kind of study for a history class. I had never done anything like it before and it was a lot of fun." 

"I enjoyed researching different disease and learning more in depth about how the CDC and the WHO deal with these situations. Creating an infographic was fun because I prefer to show people what I've learned through graphics/art."

Contagion Activity with link.
I liked creating the infographics and I really enjoyed learning about different diseases and the bad effects and how to prevent myself from getting them. Learning these are good life lessons."

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The driving question of the project was "How have societies adapted to disease outbreaks?" and then create infographics for Valley Children's Hospital. The driving question was more focused than the year prior and it built off of skills of identifying human adaptations when these sophomores were in my freshmen geography class.

The project was introduced with a Pear Deck that reviewed diseases, recent outbreaks like Zika Virus in Brazil and TB in Fresno, and explained the project process. We launched into the project with the students watching Contagion and practice analyzing how the humans adapted to the hypothetical disease in the movie.

After this practice, students selected their diseases using a Google form; you'll notice that students choose to select three options. While I love the choice eliminator add-on, it isn't consistent when many people are using the form at the same time and when you have to use it across multiple classes so I have them pick their top three. 

Research Organizer with link.
Students then immediately began research using the new and improved research organizer. It was last year's organizer that I learned that for every questions, students should put which site they got it from or else they will forget and have a plagiarism issue.

As they researched, they participated in an Iron Chef focused on vaccines that replaced all the documentaries that we watched the year before; they divided into groups and had to research the first vaccines, reasons why or why not people vaccinate, and about the new CA law. This activity helped give students a better understanding of vaccines as well as exposure to the diseases that everyone was researching with the secret ingredient; they also got to work on their communication and collaboration skills.

We then started to prepare for our visit from Valley Children's Hospital by brainstorming questions about diseases, society and public health policy. Unfortunately, deadlines and the upcoming Thanksgiving Break caused the visit to be cancelled. It worked out in the end since we invited Valley Children's Hospital to come for Minarets' first annual Community Day where we donated the infographics and made cards/gift-tags for the kids.

Once their research was completed, students completed another Iron Chef about Infographics; they were able to jigsaw the aspects needed in an infographic, why infographics are used, and design tips. We also examined some infographics from last year and discussed creating kid-appropriate infographics for Valley Children's Hospital.

Like last year, I allowed students to choose which program they wanted to use to create their infographic, but instead of three options (, Piktochart, and Info.gram) I found a site with then different options. While I loved giving the students voice and choice for which program they use, many of them selected options that prevented them from sharing a JPEG, PNG, or PDF, which made submission and sharing incredibly difficult; next year, I will filter through the options better to prevent future headaches. 

Students submitted their infographics right before Thanksgiving Break so when we returned they peer reviewed infographics done in different periods. This encouraged students to be engaged in the process since they got to see other people's designs in other classes. At this point, we had to start their Signature Project so we had some project overlap, which I'm still not sure how I felt about that. Once the peer reviews were finished and I graded the infographics, I reviewed some of the biggest problem areas in their infographics and how to fix them:

Students then wrote a rationale explaining the discussion they made in their project, which in retrospect should have been done sooner when their thought process was clear in their mind. They were also able to revise and improve their infographics and resubmit to improve their score.

By the end, there were definitely some areas to improve:

  • The project overlap disengaged students towards the end, which made their rationales and revisions weaker.
  • I'm going to do more research into infographic programs to prevent the many errors we had when trying to download the infographics from various sites.
  • I also plan on making this project the Signature Project for sophomores in World History so it is the last project we do and we can include it permanently into Community Day
  • Involve Valley Children's more in the process as this improves student engagement and excitement about the project. 
Overall, I felt that the quality of the infographics were much higher than the year before and were much more professional. I felt that student engagement remained high throughout process since I had focused the driving question and cut out some of the 'fluff' from last year. Everyone was highly impressed with the students work and, as shown by the quotes above, this was one of the students' favorite projects.

Check out some of the infographics below:




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