When Plague Strikes

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Name: _____________________

Date: _________________

Block: _______
When Plague Strikes”

Reading Contract

Throughout the course of this week, you will be using your knowledge and comprehension of non-fiction characteristics and complete various reading activities that apply these concepts and challenge you to analyze and evaluate a specific non-fiction text in your literature book.
Through these activities, you will be able to do the following:

  • Use comparing and contrasting skills to summarize a non-fiction text

  • Use active reading behaviors to analyze a non-fiction text

  • Determine the main idea and author’s purpose

  • Apply your understanding of the text through a creative writing exercise.

As mentioned above, some of these activities will be completed individually; others will/can be completed with a partner. It will be stated beside the contact checklist, which activities can be completed independently or collaboratively.

In this packet, you should the following activities that will be completed over the course of the week. Any activity that is not completed in class must be completed by the due date assigned in class for the packet.
Contract Checklist:

  • Complete “Black Death” brain pop viewing guide

  • Read “When Plague Strikes” by James Cross Giblin on pages 579-589 (partner work)

  • Active Reading annotating hand out before, during, after reading (independent work)

  • Complete Analyzing Literature Questions (partner work)

  • Complete Main Idea, Author’s Purpose, Fact and Opinion activity (independent work)

  • “When Plague Strikes” Venn Diagram (partner work)

  • Complete Comparison Summary (independent work)

  • Using the provided prompt, complete the creative writing exercise using your evaluation of the non-fiction text to help with your response. (independent work)

Viewing Guide: Black Death
Fill out the following viewing guide while watching the Black Death Brain Pop movie. Use the word bank below to help you select your answers.
minoritiesbuboeshygieneThe Silk RoadChinaBubonic Plaguepandemicfourchurchfolk remedies1333peasantstraders and soldiersbloodlettingfleas

  1. A __________________ is when an infectious disease spreads over a large part of the world.

  1. The Black Death first showed up in ___________ in ________ where it killed over 5 million people in one province alone.

  1. _________________ carried the disease with them from China to the Middle East along __________________, a major trading route during the Middle Ages.

  1. In just _____ years, the disease killed between 1/3 and 2/3 of everyone living in Europe.

  1. Some medical practices, like ___________________ actually did more harm to patients than good! Other practices, like ____________, didn’t do any harm, but they also didn’t do any good.

  1. Most importantly, the people of the Middle Ages were completely unaware of the importance of simple ______________ practices like washing hands and disposing of waste. That helped diseases like the Plague to spread quickly.

  1. Historians believe that the Black Death was really an outbreak of the ____________________. The Plague is carried by rats, but can spread to human through ________________.

  1. Symptoms of the Plague included ___________, or puffy swellings in the neck, arm pit or groin. The skin of afflicted people could also turn black. People affected by the disease typically died within a week of showing symptoms.

  1. Whatever the cause, the Black Death changed history. People were so scared that they began to blame __________ for the disease. They even began to question the superiority of the ___________ and of other leaders.

  1. So many people died that there was hardly anyone left to work the fields. Because of this, _______________ were able to demand more rights and more money.

“When Plague Strikes”

Active Reading Comments
Using your textbook, complete the following active reading chart below. You will have a better understanding of the text by previewing, questioning, visualizing and reviewing the text, “When Plague Strikes.”

Before reading the text, look at the title of pthe piece and picture on the first page. Below, write 2 sentences about what you believe the text will be about based on the title and illustration.


During your reading of “When Plague Strikes,” formulate 3 questions that you have about the text.





In the space provided, draw an illustration that best represents the main idea of “When Plague Strikes.”


Now that you have read the entire text, review the text and write a 25 word summary (no more than 25 words) that highlights the most important ideas or topics covered in the text.

“When Plague Strikes:” Analyzing Literature Response Questions

Personal Response

  1. What is the most surprising fact you discovered from reading this selection?

  1. Review the flu symptoms discussed in the Reading Focus on page 578. How might physicians of the 1300s dealt with such symptoms?


  1. What were the effects (symptoms) of the Black Death?

  1. How did rats spread the Plague?

  1. How did Pope Clement IV try to protect himself from getting the Plague?


  1. In addition to causing death, what made the Plague so frightening?

  1. What were the three “explanations,” or causes, for the Black Death that were believed among the people? What do these beliefs show about the people who held them?

  1. What living conditions during the 1300s caused Europe to be a “breeding Ground” for the Plague?

  1. Who was Roch? Why did some people feel that Roch could help them during the Plague?

Evaluate and Connect

  1. How could you find out whether the author has given an accurate account of what happened?

  1. How would you protect yourself from the Plague, knowing only what the people of the day knew?

Nonfiction Characteristics: “Fear Spreads like a Virus”
You will be able to identify characteristics of nonfiction, facts and opinion s in the current event, “Fear Spreads like a Virus.”
Nonfiction is a genre of literature in which information is about real people, places and events. Current events articles are all nonfiction articles. There are a number of characteristics of nonfiction. There characteristics are particular to the way nonfiction is written. Read the characteristics below and answer the questions in the box about the article, “Fear Spreads like a Virus.”

Nonfiction CharacteristicExample/Use in articleTopic

The topic is what the article is about (usually in a word or phrase)In four words or less, write the topic of “Fear Spreads like a Virus”.Author’s Purpose

All writers have a reason for writing the way they do. We ask ourselves whey the author wrote the article AND why does the author write the way he/she does?

Read “Fear Spreads like a Virus”

  1. In this article, the author’s purpose us to do which of the following?

  2. To inform the reader of fears that have been caused by the swine flu

  3. To entertain the reader by telling an interesting story

  4. To convince the reader that the swine flue is an epidemic

  5. To persuade the reader to be fearful of the swine flu

  6. Why does the author start the article with, “But the signs of fear are everywhere…”?

  7. To convince the reader to be fearful

  8. To make people scared of the swine flu

  9. To inform readers that the United States is experiencing an epidemic

  10. To capture the reader’s attention

Chronological Order

Sometimes articles are written in chronological (time_ order from the first thing that happened to the last.

The article “Fear Spreads like a Virus” has a couple of paragraphs that are written in chronological order. Read the first paragraph under the subheading, “Why are people so scared?” and put a number by each of the events below to signify which happened first, second and third.

____ There was an outbreak of the Spanish Flu that killed tens of millions of people around the world.

____ The outbreak of the Bubonic Plague was considered a global epidemic

____ Polio, AIDS, SARS and the bird flu have also been considered epidemics


Many nonfiction articles have sections. The title of each section is called a subheading.List the subheadings of the article “Fear Spreads like a Virus.”

  • __________________________________________________

  • __________________________________________________

  • __________________________________________________

Logical Order

Logic means reason. The order of nonfiction article needs to be reasonable, or make sense, to the reader. Sometimes the order will be to first explain the problem, then to offer solutions. Other times, a brief overview will be given, followed by details. There are many possible logical orders.The article, “Fear Spreads like a Virus,” is organized in a logical way. Below, list 3 details in logical order as seen in the article:

  1. ____________________________________________________

  2. ____________________________________________________

  3. ____________________________________________________Background Facts

In order to a understand nonfiction article, the reader often needs word definitions or specific facts about the topic. The author often includes these to make his/her clearer. Looking at the article “Fear Spreads like a Virus,” we find many times in which the author interrupts the flow of the article to give us background information. Answer the following questions to find some of these instances:

  1. Subheading 2, Paragraph 1: What is unique about the song “Ring Around the Rosy”?

  1. Subheading 3, Sentence 1: How many people die per year from the seasonal flu?

Definitions of Terms

Whether in the text itself or in footnotes, charts or boxes nearby authors and editors often give the reader the meaning of unique or big words used in the text.

Looking back at “Fear Spreads like a Virus,” the author implies or indirectly gives us the meaning of a couple of terms. One such term is “epidemic.” Using the article, describe epidemic in 1-2 sentences.

Fact and Opinion

When writing nonfiction, authors often include both fact and opinion. The reader must be able to tell the difference. (A fact can be proven; an opinion can be agreed with or argued against.)Find 3 facts from “Fear Spreads like a Virus.”

1. ________________________________________________________

2. ________________________________________________________

3. ________________________________________________________

Find 1 opinion in “Fear Spreads like a Virus.”



Summary: Nonfiction texts have many characteristics. In 1-2 sentences, summarize those characteristics.

“When Plague Strikes:” Comparison Summary

Using your comparison chart, write a two paragraph compare-contrast essay, comparing the life in Europe between 1347-1349 and life today. Through this writing, you will be able to demonstrate your ability to assess your comparison chart and create an essay that reflects the main similarities and differences in well-organized paragraphs.

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