Adult Ed

Cancer: A Crisis of the Cells

Overview | Activities


According to the New York State Cancer Registry, approximately 100,000 New Yorkers will be diagnosed with new cases of cancer every year, the effects of which extend far beyond diagnosis. Friends and family often seek answers to difficult questions about how cancer happens. In this multimedia, self-directed lesson, adult learners will gain insight into this enigmatic disease. The lesson is also intended to help learners develop skills of reflection as they conduct Web research and journal writing.

Grade level: Adult (ABLE, GED), Intermediate

Subject Matter: Science, Writing

Learning Objectives:

Learners will be able to:
  • identify and analyze trends in reported cancer cases using graphical data
  • describe changes in cellular structure and function as a result of cancer
  • explain at least two cellular level phenomena that scientists believe cause cancer

Standard 4: The Living Environment (MST)
(Performance Indicator) Students describe and explain the structures and functions of the human body at different organizational levels (e.g., systems, tissues, cells, organelles)
Additional MST Performance Indicators: (
  • Describe sources of variation in organisms and their structures and relate the variations to survival
  • Describe factors responsible for competition within species and the significance of that competition
  • Observe and describe cell division at the microscopic level and its macroscopic effects
  • Locate and utilize a range of printed, electronic, and human information resources to obtain ideas
Standard 3: Language for Critical Analysis and Evaluation
Students will listen, speak, read, and write for critical analysis and evaluation. As listeners and readers, students will analyze experiences, ideas, information, and issues presented by others using a variety of established criteria. As speakers and writers, they will use oral and written language that follows the accepted conventions of the English language to present, from a variety of perspectives, their opinions and judgments on experiences, ideas, information and issues.
  • Present (in essays, position papers, speeches, and debates) clear analyses of issues, ideas, texts, and experiences supporting their positions with well-developed arguments
  • Develop arguments with effective use of details and evidence that reflect a coherent set of criteria (e.g., reporting results of lab experiments to support a hypothesis)
  • Monitor and adjust their own oral and written presentations according to the standards for a particular genre (e.g., defining key terms used in a formal debate)

Media components:

NY State Cancer Registry
New York State cancer data are available on this Web site. Users can get information about specific populations based on personal demographics or regionality throughout the state.

Cells Alive
This highly graphic Web site allows users to compare plant and animal cells while developing a vocabulary to describe the cell as a system of organelles.

What Causes Cancer?
This impressive site allows users to learn more about the nature of cancer from on a cellular level. After reviewing the concepts of mitosis, users will be able to test their knowledge of cell division AND find out the answers.

Cancer Warriors
This companion Web site to the NOVA program allows users to view excerpts of the full broadcast program.

How Cancer Grows (Flash Player Recommended)
This is the HOT SCIENCE link to the companion site for the NOVA broadcast program. Using Flash technology, users will see how effected cells grow into tumors which may then travel throughout the body and spread cancer. Vocabulary is provided to help users understand more about the physiology of cancer.

  • Computer with Internet access
  • Journal/Composition Notebook