Activity 1: Engaging Students' Background Experience Prior To, During, and After Reading (adapted from a guideline provided in "Learning to Learn from Text: A Framework for Improving Classroom Practice," by Robert J. Tierney and P. David Pearson from Dishner, Eadence and Beans, and READING IN THE CONTENT AREAS: IMPROVING CLASSROOM INSTRUCTION, Kendall Hunt, 1992).
Post several large sheets of newsprint on the blackboard or wall at the front of the room. Begin by asking students what they think of when they hear the words "immune system." As students respond, write what they say on the board in columns that reflect categories that you
have determined in advance. Some of the categories might include functions, processes, and diseases that affect the immune system.
Once students have finished responding, look at the columns
together and designate category titles for them.
Ask students to read a chapter on the immune system to learn more about it. You can use a text such as HUMAN BIOLOGY AND HEALTH (Prentice Hall, 1993) or THE BODY BOOK (Workman Publishing, 1992).
When students have finished reading, return to the set of categories you have written on the board. Ask students to add new terms they have acquired from their reading to the lists compiled before reading.
Keep the newsprint posted on the wall for the duration of this unit. As new information is learned through the course of study, add it to the chart. Revisit the chart periodically to summarize the new information.
Activity 2: Using Visual Aids to Understand Descriptions of Immune System Processes.
Prepare two handouts, each containing drawings of an immune system process: one showing how antibodies fight disease (from THE HUMAN BODY: YOUR BODY AND HOW IT WORKS, pp. 64 65), the other depicting phagocytes swallowing germs (from THE BODY BOOK, p. 224). Omit the explanatory text that accompanies these illustrations.
Prepare two additional handouts, each of these containing the explanatory text for one of the two processes. Label these handouts. Prepare a set of handouts for each group of four or five students.
Divide the class into groups and distribute the handouts. Ask groups to read the descriptions of each process and to match texts with illustrations.
Reconvene as a whole class and have groups report back. If there is disagreement about which text belongs with which illustration, ask groups to give evidence that supports their decisions and to point out the elements of the illustration which conform to the description provided by the text.
Activity 3: Using Visual Aids to Understand the Sequence Which Takes Place When a White Blood Cell Encounters Bacteria.
Distribute a paragraph describing what happens when a white blood cell encounters bacteria (e.g., p. 194 in HUMAN BIOLOGY AND HEALTH). Ask students to read silently.
Divide the class into groups or pairs.
Distribute in random order pictures of the process described in the text and ask students to put them in the correct sequence.
Reconvene as a class. As groups report back, have them discuss how elements of the text provide support for the sequence upon which they have decided.
Activity 4: Completing A Features Analysis to Compare and Contrast the Different Types of Immune System Cells (charts adapted from Jerry L. Johns and Susan Davis Lenski, IMPROVING READING: A HANDBOOK OF STRATEGIES, Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, 1997).
Prepare Features Analysis Charts with these headings: Kinds and Features.
Under the heading "Kinds," different types of immune cells should be listed (e.g., T-cells, B-cells, phagocytes, mast cells). Under the heading "Features," sub-categories of kinds of features should be added (e.g., functions, physiological properties, place of origin, etc.)
Divide the class into groups and distribute charts. Have students draw from information in texts on the immune system (see above) to complete charts.
Reconvene as a class. Have groups compare their charts and discuss which parts of the text they drew upon to complete them. As students discuss their charts, create a class chart.
Use the chart to write a class comparison/contrast essay examining the features of two types of immune system cells and modeling rhetorical/ stylistic elements students will need to practice to prepare for the GED exam.
Have students copy the essay into their notebooks to use as a model for writing an at-home composition.
Divide the class into groups again. Ask students to use the sections of their texts that describe viruses and bacteria in order to do another Features Analysis Chart, this time comparing and contrasting types of infectious agents.
Repeat Step Three.
Activity 5: Completing an Outline on Different Types of Vaccines.
Prepare an outline of the section on vaccines from the text you are using (pp. 227231 in THE BODY BOOK). Provide some of the information in the section and omit some. Here's an example.
Properties of Different Types of Vaccines
(all contain low levels of antigens)
Typhoid Fever and Whooping Cough
Does not contain bacteria
Have students work in groups to complete the outline, and to include as many relevant descriptors as they can.
Ask groups to report back and share outlines.
Have students choose one disease to research and write about. Have them write about symptoms produced by the disease, as well as how and when each vaccine was developed.
Have students use their Features Analysis Chart on infectious diseases to write a short essay comparing and contrasting two infectious agents.
Research on AIDS and Ebola: Divide the class in half. Have half the class read THE HOT ZONE, and the other half THE GEOGRAPHY OF AIDS. Prepare guiding questions for different sections of the books. Questions should help students pay attention to the properties of the diseases described in these books (Ebola and AIDS, respectively), including:
- how they are transmitted and how they affect the body.
- how each disease spreads geographically and what has been done to prevent the spreading of the viruses.
As students read these texts, have them use the guiding questions to engage in small group discussion and in summary and essay writing. When students have finished reading, divide them into groups. Have each group write a report and make a presentation on either the epidemiology or the transmission/replication process of the disease or syndrome.
Comparing Present and Past Plagues
Have students research and write group reports comparing the spread of AIDS with the spread of the bubonic plague. Ask students to include their ideas on how technology and culture affected the geographical scope of the spread as well as the treatment of plague victims.