After our patient, Howard, came to our clinic (classroom), we had a class discussion about Howard’s symptoms. After listing the symptoms, the kids decided that his ailment had something to do with either his circulatory or his respiratory system. The different groups, 3 to 4 kids per group, worked to find diseases that corresponding with at least some of Howard’s symptoms. In an effort to help the kids narrow down their choices, each group made a symptom chart. The chart above shows Howard’s symptoms written in pink marker. They were comparing coronary heart disease and obstructive sleep apnea with his symptoms. Since CAD received more checks, the group declared it the winner. We are a 1:1 iPad school and we could have made this chart in any number of apps, but sometimes paper and pen just works better. They had so much fun using the smelly markers to color coordinate their charts. It was more of a group project because they could take turns writing on it. Sometimes they placed their chart in the middle of their group as they continued their research.
Make A Plan
Their final Keynote presentation was built around these key components:
- Howard’s symptoms
- Effect this disease has on body systems
- Tests that need to be done to confirm their diagnosis
- Possible treatment plans
- Complete list of citations
This project included collaboration (working together to make a diagnosis), communication (dividing the work, effectively communicating their findings to a panel), and critical thinking (taking previously learned knowledge about the human body and using it in a new way in order to make a diagnosis).
Look It Up
Our school library had a nice selection on non-fiction books on a variety of reading levels. Besides using books, the kids spent a great deal of time on sites such as Web MD, Mayo Clinic, and the American Heart Association. The comprehension level on these sites is fairly high. We made a very conscious effort to make sure the kids understood all the medications, test procedures, and treatments that they mentioned in their presentation. I worked with a group that diagnosed arrhythmia, to help them understand the difference between the plumbing and electrical workings of the heart. With an over-simplistic comparison between a plumber who works on cleaning out your pipes and an electrician who works to keep the lights from fluttering on and off, the kids were able to grasp the differences between heart specialists.