Trained: Dates: January 19 & 20, 2015 : Town/State: Chicago, IL

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Title: Black Death STEAM Lesson Brief

Educator - Susan Disch

Trained: Dates: January 19 & 20, 2015 : Town/State: Chicago, IL

Theme that this lesson would tie to: Middle Ages in Europe

Specific Topic Concept within that theme: Effects of Medieval Plague on Medieval Society

PROJECT IDEA + brief notes & supplies


Skill level (Grade Range): Sixth Grade

Summary of Essential Concepts: Students describe how the Black Death, along with economic, environmental and social factors led to the decline of medieval society.

Coordinating Basic Plan:

  • Students will collect data to show the societal impact of the Black Death, including number of deaths/year and location of deaths, using data tables and maps.

  • Students will research sanitation procedures during the Middle Ages and their impact on the spread of disease.

  • Students will research theories about the spread of the disease.

  • Students will talk with local health care providers to gain information on the impact of good hygiene practices on stopping the spread of disease.

  • Students will construct a simple device that uses potential or kinetic energy to perform the work of transporting and disposing of dead bodies.

  • Students research the effect of the Black Death on the transformation of life to come and compare the diverse perspectives, ideas, interests and people that led to the beginning of the Renaissance period in Europe.

Basic Plan, Using the BSCS 5E Model:

  • Create Interest (Engage): Students view The Black Death Documentary, Youtube:

  • Instructional Moments (Explore): The lessons, experiences and activities of instruction outlined in Basic Concepts. Students have time and opportunity to formulate explanations, investigate phenomena, discuss ideas, and develop cognitive and physical abilities.

  • Concepts are explicitly introduced (Explain): Students give explanations for instructional concepts, using content specific vocabulary, science and engineering practices, and crosscutting concepts.

  • Learning Experiences Expanded (Elaborate): Original content is expanded to include new, related situations. Additional written materials, databases, simulations and internet searches are used.

  • Formative and Summative Assessments (Evaluate): Performance expectations are consistent with the instruction and student work performed.

Timing of Lesson:

45 minute lessons at least 3 times/week for 8 weeks.

All Subjects: Instructions will be integrated throughout various content areas.

Basic Supplies: All Subjects: science notebooks, engineering journals, laptop computers (with Spreadsheet program such as Excel for data collection, internet for research), variety of supplies for constructing simple device, tri-fold science fair backboards for displaying information, Social Studies text, SEPUP Ecology Science curriculum.

Supplies for Individual Subjects:

Science: Science notebooks, SEPUP Ecology Science kit.

Technology: Laptops, with internet for research and spreadsheet program, such as Excel, for data collection

Math: graphing, data collection and analysis, estimation, mean/median/mode

Language Arts: Sentence strips for Interactive Word Wall, blank books for narrative writings.

Social Studies: Current world maps, historic world maps, historic European maps,

Art: Various supplies such as markers, colored paper, paint, glue, etc. Blank maps of Europe.

Engineering: Various supplies for construction of simple devices.

Music: CDs of Medieval chants, Ring Around the Rosy song.

PE: Gym or outdoor space.

IT Resources:

Powerpoint program: Students create a ppt of their project


Center for Disease Control: (Plague)

Edsitement: (Primary resources, maps, etc.)

Fordham: (Primary resource of 1348 Italian city ordinances to deter the spread of the plague)



Reading Rockets (Interactive Word Walls):

Literacy Strategy Guides:




Career Information: Science and Engineering Math Language Arts Social Studies Art Music Physical Ed.

Other Resources:

Community Resources as guest speakers, Snite Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame for field trip.

Misc: (Extensions & Variations)

General ones, not specific to a subject area.

Appropriate adaptations will be made for diversity of student needs.


Other images at:


Concepts – Explain, investigate and sequence the spread of the Black Plague in Europe in the 14th Century.

Goal/Objectives: To identify, explain and sequence the concepts related to health promotion and disease prevention.



6.1.6 Identify how health care can promote health.

6.1.7 Identify the benefits of practicing healthy behaviors.

6.2.2 Identify the influence of culture on health beliefs and


6.4.1 Investigate effective

communication skills to enhance health.

6.5.2 Explain when health-

related situations require a thoughtful decision-making process.


6.3.1  Describe specific relationships between organisms (human, rat, flea and bacteria) and determine whether these relationships are competitive or mutually beneficial.

Careers: Health care provider, public sanitation worker, forensic scientist

Project: Students will examine the causal relationship between vector and host in the spread of bacterial infections. Create a one-page graphic to explain the ecology of the plague.

Assessment: Students will use a teacher constructed Rubric when creating their graphic, then will use to assess the quality of their work.

Extension: Students can create multiple graphics to put into foldable book form.

Technology & Engineering:

Concepts – Design, construct and test a simple device to moving large objects (i.e. dead bodies).

Goal/Objectives: To use the engineering process to design, construct and test a simple device.


6.4.1 Understand how to apply potential or kinetic energy to power a simple device.

6.4.2 Construct a simple device that uses potential or kinetic energy to perform work.

Careers: Engineer, materials manager, designer/inventor,

Project: Students will design, construct and test a simple device that uses potential +/or kinetic energy to move a weighted object. Design plans will be drawn in their engineering journals, construction will include a variety of materials (teacher supplied or brought from home) and testing will involve whole class participation.

Assessment: Students will explain the success or failure of their device, including explanation of the type and transfer of energy used.

Extension: Students can present their devices, with accompanying explanations of the project, to another class or grade level.



Concepts – Select, create and interpret a graph depicting a relationship between two variables.

Goal/Objectives: To interpret a variety of graphs, in a variety of uses.


6.AF.10: Use variables to represent two quantities in a proportional relationship in a real-world problem; write an equation to express one quantity, the dependent variable, in terms of the other quantity, the independent variable. Analyze the relationship between the dependent and independent variables using graphs and tables, and relate these to the equation.

6.DS.2: Select, create, and interpret graphical representations of numerical data, including line plots, histograms, and box plots.

6.DS.3: Formulate statistical questions; collect and organize the data (e.g., using technology); display and interpret the data with graphical representations (e.g., using technology).

6.DS.4: Summarize numerical data sets in relation to their context in multiple ways, such as: report the number of observations; describe the nature of the attribute under investigation, including how it was measured and its units of measurement; determine quantitative measures of center (mean and/or median) and spread (range and interquartile range), as well as describe any overall pattern and any striking deviations from the overall pattern with reference to the context in which the data were gathered; and relate the choice of measures of center and spread to the shape of the data distribution and the context in which the data were gathered.

Careers: statistician, world health analyst, actuarial, biomathematics

Project: Students construct a graph showing the relationship of any two variables related to the spread of disease in Europe in the 14th century.

Assessment: Students present their graphs and explain the relationship between the two variables.

Extension: Create another graph, using a different style of graph and different variables.

Language Arts:

Concepts – Write narratives based on history of the Black Death in 14th century Europe.

Goal/Objectives: To use factual information to write a historical narrative.


6.RN.4.2: Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, verbally) to demonstrate a coherent understanding of a topic or issue.

6.W.3.3: Write narrative compositions in a variety of forms to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences.

Careers: Social science research, author, analyst

Project: Students individually write narrative stories, then compile into a class book, about living, and dying, in Europe during the Black Death. Include pictures or drawings.

Assessment: Students will be able to answer questions regarding the factual information in their stories.

Extension: Share stories with students in other classes or grade levels.

Social Studies:

Concepts – The spread of disease within the context of an historical setting.

Goal/Objectives: To view history within the integrated contexts of economic, environmental and societal factors.


6.1.7 Describe how the Black Death, along with economic, environmental and social factors led to the

decline of medieval society.

6.1.8 Compare the diverse perspectives, ideas, interests and people that brought about the Renaissance in Europe.

Careers: Bacteriologist, microbiologist, historian, author,

Project: Students either write a health-safety brochure for distribution to 14th century Europeans to describe proper sanitary methods of disposal of corpses or design and construct a 2D or 3D depiction of a sanitation improvement. Brochure must contain a minimum of ten numbered steps, pictures of each step, explanation of why each step is important, and overall benefits of their method of disposal; or brochure of the changes that occurred in Europe because of the Black Death. Must contain a minimum of ten changes and the effect on future societal changes. Pictures and explanations must be included. The 2D or 3D depiction must show an improvement over medieval sanitation systems.

Assessment: Brochure must use content-specific vocabulary, and standard conventions of mechanics. 2D or 3D depictions must show a definite improvement on medieval technology.

Extension: More steps may be included as an extension.


Concepts – Societal and cultural impact on art.

Goal/Objectives: To investigate why religious themes in art were so important during the Middle Ages.


6.1.2 Identify how the roles and relationships of artists and patrons have affected the creation of works of art.

6.1.7 Analyze and critique art seen at local museums, exhibits, arts performances, and by visiting artists in the schools.

6.2.1 Identify and be familiar with works from major periods of Western art, identifying artist, culture, style, and aspects from the historical context of the work.

Careers: artist, art historian, teacher

Project: Students will visit a local museum with a large collection of medieval art then use this information, along with additional information gained through research, to create their own examples of medieval art either in paintings or sculpture. Classroom windows, walls and hallway used for displaying artwork.

Assessment: Students’ art will accurately depict major themes seen at the museum and found during research.

Extension: Take pictures of museum and classroom art and create PowerPoint presentation.


Concepts – Examine Medieval Gregorian chants and the music of the religious life and commoners.

Goal/Objectives: To examine musical trends during the middle ages and the impact on today’s music.


6.4.1 Plan and perform a rhythmic speech composition with text based on themes such as teams, cars, or places. Include performance indicators such as tempo, dynamics, and changes in vocal timbre.

6.4.3 Create a song in an appropriate meter to accompany an original descriptive text of at least four phrases.

Careers: Composer, lyricist, poet

Project: Create a musical piece representative of music in the middle ages. Examine the song, Ring Around the Rosy, for references to the Black Death. Use historical events in the creation of their music.

Assessment: Does the song incorporate the historical elements of the middle ages?

Extension: Create another musical piece, different than the first.

Physical Education:

Concepts – Create a game that imitates the simple device previously created to dispose of corpses.

Goal/Objectives: To promote leadership and followship in games and physical activity.


6.2.1  Identify basic concepts that apply to the movement and sport skills being practiced.

6.5.3  Participate in dances and games from various world cultures.

Careers: Athletic trainer, coach, health promotion specialist

Project: Beginning with Wheelbarrow races, students create a game that uses principles of the simple devices they previously designed for the corpse removal activity.

Assessment: Game reflects simple design activity and can be explained to, and played with, whole class.

Extension: Create games that could be used for kindergarten or 1st grade students.

C. 2013 STEAM Education Lesson Brief

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