Collaborative Discussion About How Viruses are Spread

Samuel Peterson


Step by Step Instructions:

  1. I plan for this lesson to be done in two days (or one day under block scheduling). At the end of the lesson before this, I will give a Pandemic Activity Handout to students either on paper or electronically to give them some background information before class. It is also good information to have, so I want them to have access to their own copies.
  2. I will begin the lesson by dividing the class into small groups where they will be for this whole activity. From there, I will go into the lesson and the instructions. I will give the students a scenario for them to discuss within their small groups. The scenario is “if one random person in this school had a new virus with a 5% chance of transmission per contagious interaction with others, how many people would get the virus within one month?”
  3. I will have the students collaborate to create a mathematical model to show and explain their thinking. There is no obvious answer to this question. I want the students to get thinking and talking within the context of mathematically modeling the spread of viruses.
  4. At this point, I will use the 5 Practices Model to have groups show their work and explain their thinking so that other groups see the work of others to expand their thinking on this question.
  5. I will introduce the students to this Pandemic Applet and have them explore, using collaborative discussion, the effects of what happens when they change the population size, days contagious, chance of contracting virus per contagious contact, and number of contacts per day to familiarize the students with the tool that we will be using.
  6. After this, I will introduce a series of questions (pandemic handout) for students to collaborate to complete. I will individually help students that are struggling with the technology, and verbally ask guiding questions along the way to help students that are struggling to keep pace with their group.
Video Demonstration

About the author

I am from Walnut, Iowa which is a small town in Southwest Iowa. I am finishing my undergraduate degree in mathematics and education with the goal of becoming a high school math teacher. I plan on going to graduate school for math education. I strongly believe that shaping society begins in the classroom, so it is important to break away from traditional math settings and strive to make lessons more interactive and collaborative as math is used in the real world. Math is used to understand the world around you, so our lessons should be created in the same way.