Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Viral Diseases

Jackie Robertson


Students will research three viral diseases of humans, plants, or animals and report their findings to the class through a presentation using a visual aid.


The student knows that viruses may cause diseases in other living things.


-Posterboard or other large display paper (could be construction paper)
-Markers, crayons, or colored pencils
-Construction paper
-Notebook paper and/or blank computer paper
-Research materials such as access to Internet, medical books, encyclopedias, and other appropriate reference books
-Copies (one per student) of the Virus Report Requirements (see Associated File)
-Copies, overhead copy and/or poster of the Criteria Rubric (see Associated File)
-Overhead transparencies, vis-ŕ-vis markers, with Overhead Projector (optional)
-Clothes hangers with string (optional)
-Visual computer presentation program (optional)


1. Sign-up for use of the school computer lab and/or media center and reserve reference material for your students’ use. If you don’t have access to computers for Internet research and/or are unable to use space in the media center, you will need to check-out appropriate reference material to be used by the students in your classroom. Keep track of these books and do not allow any of them to be removed from your classroom for any reason so they are always available.
2. Whether completing the visuals in the classroom or at home on their own, gather the necessary materials you have chosen to supply for the students (in whatever quantities you feel are adequate) to make their visual presentations or tell the students to bring in their own materials – posterboard, construction paper, markers, crayons, colored pencils, transparencies and vis-ŕ-vis markers, paper. Don’t forget to allow for computer time if students are completing their visual using a computer presentation program.
3. Download the Virus Report Requirements page from the Associated File and make one copy for each student. (You may want to conserve paper by copying more than one requirement explanation per copier page or by copying the Criteria Rubric onto the same page as the report requirements.)
4. Download the suggested Criteria Rubric from the Associated File and copy one for each student to record his/her assessment information.


1. Ask the students to raise their hands if they have ever been sick. Ask the students what they think made them sick, leading them to the point that bacteria and viruses make us sick. Tell the students that although bacteria also cause diseases, they will be researching only diseases that are caused by viruses and presenting that information to the class.

2. Have the students think of diseases that are caused by viruses and write these names on the board. As the students reply, they may name diseases caused by bacteria, so you will need to remind them that they are to report only on VIRAL diseases. Examples of viral diseases are: hepatitis, HIV, measles, rabies, mumps, polio, tobacco mosaic virus, herpes, encephalitis, small pox, influenza, yellow fever, chicken pox. (You will need to decide whether or not you are going to provide the students with examples of viral diseases or if you are going to have them research to find them.)

3. Ask the students for ideas as to how they think they could present their information to the class, leading them to the presentation choices you will be providing for them – either posters, computer presentations, overhead presentations, mobiles, etc.

4. Distribute the Virus Report Requirements (see Associated File) for the presentations and read through this with the students. Tell them how many research days you are allowing them and where their research will be done. Review how to use research materials and take notes to complete their research. (One approach is to allow two days of research, by beginning in the school computer lab for one day using the Internet and then one day in the school media center. Then provide one or two days for preparing their presentation visuals. Alternately the visuals could be prepared at home as to not take anymore class time and then be due on a certain date.)

5. Discuss the Criteria Rubric (see Associated File) of how the students will be evaluated by either making a transparency of the rubric or distributing copies to the students. You may also wish to post the rubric in your room. (If you have a poster maker available to you, you could enlarge the rubric to post.)

6. Have the students present their findings to the class and assess their work using the Criteria Rubric provided in the Associated File.


The presentations will be assessed for content knowledge and delivery using the Criteria Rubric (see Associated File).


This lesson can easily be modified by requiring SLD or ESE students to choose only one of the diseases to research and present. Also, the ESOL students could pair with another student to write the answers to the questions in a single answer format.
This lesson could be extended by asking students to research the diseases in further detail, including the scientists who have studied the disease, when the disease was “discovered” and what its effects were, whether the disease has been eradicated, etc.

Attached Files

Virus Report Requirements and the Criteria Rubric.     File Extension: pdf

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