Kinesthetic Word Web

This activity was inspired by two individuals. Firstly Mike Kuczala and his awesome book “The Kinesthetic Classroom“, and secondly by LaVonna Roth and her interview on the Voxcast podcast.

Traditionally I have had students sit passively as we complete a word web on the board, listing sexually transmitted infections, breaking them down into different categories, comparing treatable and curable and talking about transmission, symptoms and prevalence. This is 2 days worth of teaching material and all printed materials can be found in this Google folder.

Kinesthetic Word Web

I print and cut out multiple sets of the 9 STI name cards and randomly hand these out to students. (pic 2). I also hand out a copy of the STI worksheet to students.

  1. Students get together with those with the same STI. They brainstorm what facts they already know about the infection. Not much gets written down at this stage with the exception of HIV, which I think is focused on in our middle schools.
  2. Students then get into groups of 9 in which each STI is represented once (pic 3) and they stand around a printed card with ‘Sexually Transmitted Infections” printed on it.
  3. Students are informed that the infections can be broken into 3 categories – virus, bacteria, critter. Without prompting them, they try and ascertain which infection falls into which category.
  4. One member of each category holds the large sign and forms the start of the category branch. Additional infections attach to the branch by touching the shoulder of the student in front. (pic 4) Prompts can be given towards the end of this stage of the activity.
  5. At this stage I talk about the categories and perhaps some of the infections. And then I give the following commands:
  6. “Sit down if you think your infection can be treated”. (No one should be standing at this stage, but there is always a few students standing which leads to a good discussion).
  7. “Sit down if you think your disease can be cured”. I talk about diseases being cured and pose this question….”If you have been cured of an STI, do you have to tell future partners?” The answers from my students are varied, and very interesting. Invariably the words trust and honesty become part of this discussion.
  8. Students return back to their smaller groups, those with the same infection, and add to their notes. What additional information have they learned about their infection? (pic 5).
  9. For the next stage of the activity students research their infection and aim to become an expert. This information is filled out in the next box on the worksheet. This box will become a script for the next activity.
  10. I use a ‘speed communication‘ activity to allow students to teach each other about their infection.
  11. Back in their large groups of 9, students download the (free) Sexually Transmitted Infections iBook from iTunes. This engaging iBook contains 9 fictional case studies of patients with STI symptoms. The group has to decide which case study refers to which infection. Listen to the discussions as you hear students talk about their infection and explain their answer. (Can’t read iBooks? A PDF copy is available in the Google folder for you but the interactive elements won’t be available to you).

This article might be of use:  Why sexually transmitted infections and not diseases?


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