COVID-19 pandemic could be learning opportunity for middle-grade students

July 14, 2020

Educators could use the COVID-19 outbreak to help middle-schoolers better understand the world, according to new research from faculty at Binghamton University, State University of New York.

In the field of middle-grades education (grade 4-9), the COVID-19 pandemic may offer educators a perfect real-world scenario that invites students to critically examine how our global community's actions impact one another, according to Bogum Yoon, associate professor of literacy education at Binghamton University.

"The outbreak of the coronavirus has affected individuals' lives and education around the world, including the United States," said Yoon. "This phenomenon invites educators to work with students for deepening their understanding about the interconnected world as global citizens."

In her new paper, Yoon provides instructional suggestions on how educators can use the pandemic crisis as an authentic world-learning opportunity. The suggestions could naturally tie into several content areas: English language arts (e.g., reading about the virus and discussing it; critiquing news media content on the coronavirus); science (e.g., the nature of the coronavirus and its impact for individuals' health; discussing the impact of masks for their own and others' health); social studies (e.g., virus impact to different ethnic and SES groups; the restriction of individuals' rights and freedom under a ban); and mathematics (e.g., comparing U.S. death rates with other countries through graphs; reviewing the statistics on the shortage of essential goods in a given country and comparing them with other countries). Although Yoon focused on middle grade education, these instructional suggestions can be applied to any grade level.

"The topic of the novel disease provides an excellent opportunity to recognize the global issue, extend school curriculum, and examine the role of the world," said Yoon. "Through the process of learning about the world, students can better understand their own identities, ideologies and situations."

The paper, "The Global Pandemic as Learning Opportunities about the World: Extending School Curriculum," was published in Middle Grades Review.

Binghamton University

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