An injection of hope

Discover how a pioneer of vaccination has saved millions of lives

Imagine a world where what we now consider to be a minor infection or a routine operation becomes a life-threatening event; flu outbreaks that are so deadly that they would previously have belonged to the realm of science fiction.

But doctors and scientists have warned that this could be reality in as little as 20 years' time if antibiotics simply stop working. The World Health Organisation has cautioned that, within two decades, "many common infections will no longer have a cure and, once again, could kill unabated".

Measles has already made a comeback in the UK. The death of a 25-year-old man in South Wales may have been caused by the disease, and more than 1,000 cases have been identified so far in an outbreak in the region. Some have blamed the fact that parents did not give their children the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine because of scares over alleged links to autism. Measles had been all but eliminated by the late 1990s, but it is now thought that 2 million children aged 10-16 could be at risk if the South Wales outbreak spreads.

So, it is timely to mark in your classroom the 217th anniversary of Englishman Edward Jenner's first vaccination.

A doctor and pioneer of immunology, Jenner, carried out a now famous experiment on eight-year-old James Phipps in 1796, whom he injected with a small dose of cowpox to test his theory that this would make the boy immune to smallpox, one of the most contagious and deadly diseases of the time. He then tried it out on his own 11-month-old son. When his findings were published in 1798, he coined the word "vaccine", from the Latin vacca for "cow".

Since Jenner's discovery, millions of lives have been saved around the world as further vaccines have been developed.

To explore the issue of vaccination, the impact of the MMR scandal and the role of medical science, TESConnect user toonfan has created an illustrated PowerPoint slide.

Ask your students to identify what a vaccine is and to explain how it can prevent a future bout of a disease. Then encourage them to debate the advantages and disadvantages. You could even ask your class to prepare a presentation for younger students to help allay their fears about vaccination.

Find the resource at bit.lyvaccinePP


UK Walk to School Week, 20-24 May

1. African walk

Why not do something different to mark Walk to School Week? Motivate your students, encourage them to lead a healthy lifestyle and teach them about Africa while they walk. Give them the experience of joining the thousands of children across Africa who walk to school every day because they have no choice. Find out about life in East Africa, play African games, make pull-along cars out of plastic bottles and eat African fruit.

2. Design a superhero

What is the best way to promote road safety? In this lesson, children design their own walk-to-school superhero to help keep them fit and healthy and encourage them to look before crossing the road. Ask students to think about what special qualities and powers they would like their superhero to have, then link the design to things that can help them walk to school safely. Their superhero might even have superpowers to encourage them to stop, look and listen in the classroom, too.

3. Walk this way

Introduce students to the art of navigation and create a walk-to-school role play. Help them to remember routes and teach them how to travel independently (with parental consent). Help them to identify road features such as pedestrian crossings - and to understand when to use them - in a range of classroom-based activities.

4. Why walk?

Do your students still need convincing of the benefits of walking? Show them this eight-minute film about walking to school, which considers the health benefits of walking and follows one girl on her journey to school. Play an interactive game and discuss ideas on how we can all fit a walk into our day.

5. A song in your step

Teach children why two feet can often be better than a car and liven up life in your classroom by introducing songs that they can sing while they walk to school. Students can entertain their neighbourhood as they sing their way home from school in the afternoon or sing their way back to class the following morning.

Find these lesson plans at bit.lyWalktoSchoolWeek


World Environment Day, 5 June

1. Electric cars

If health and safety rules get in the way of a test drive, introduce students to the magic of the electric car via video link. Watch Green TV presenter Verity Cowper try out the first mass-produced, fully electric car on the streets of Copenhagen, Denmark. Then start a debate.

2. Global effects

Most people have wondered what they can do in the face of global climate change. But this inspiring video-based lesson shows that we all have more power than we think. Help students to understand how their choices can make a difference - and could be the decisive link in a chain that has effects across the world.

3. Sow the seeds

Climate change is having a long-term impact on agriculture. The livelihoods of 2.5 billion people globally depend on the successful growth of seeds, and every one of us needs food to survive. Charity Oxfam's Sow the Seed project encourages global citizenship, helping students to understand the issue of food production and encouraging them to take action.

4. Biodiversity hospital

Why is biodiversity important? How can we protect endangered species? How do we balance competing priorities in a fragile ecosystem? Students assume the roles of biologists and conservationists as they work together to devise a treatment plan - from staff training to diagnosis, treatment and aftercare - and conserve an endangered species.

5. Darwin's finches

Find out how Galapagos finches helped Charles Darwin to formulate his theory of evolution and natural selection. Take your students on a journey into the world of biodiversity and evolution, and explore the role of data collection and observation in helping to protect the environment.

Find these lesson plans at bit.lyWorldEnvironmentDay2013


1. Explanation activity cards

Give children a prompt, then use iffatsardharwalla's explanation activity cards to develop their speaking and listening skills, focusing on "why" to help them expand their answers.


2. Dyslexia mindmaps

Difficulty telling the time, problems with note-taking, not remembering what words look like: these are just some symptoms of dyslexia. Raise staff awareness and learn to support students using these mindmaps.


3. Everyday mathematics

"What's the point of mathematics?" is a common refrain among children - and adults, too. Axis Education's worksheet focuses on familiar, everyday topics to help students practise functional skills. bit.lyFunctionalMaths

5 assemblies

UK National Vegetarian Week, 20-26 May Why do people become vegetarian? Do they eat only salad? Explore vegetarianism and the myths surrounding it using a video from TESConnect partner TrueTube. bit.lyVegetarianismAssembly

Sleep on it What does the position you sleep in say about you? Take a light-hearted look at why sleep is so important in an assembly extolling the virtues of a good night's sleep. bit.lyVirtuesOfSleep

Revision techniques Encourage students who are preparing for exams, and keep them focused, in an assembly on revision techniques and what happens when you don't make the grade. bit.lyRevisionAssembly

Rude awakening What does it mean to be rude? How does our treatment of other people affect them? Explore these questions in Clare2470's contemplative PowerPoint assembly. bit.lyHaltingRudeness

Show and tell Celebrate children's efforts and achievements so far this year using welshy's assembly script. bit.lyShowAndTellAssembly.

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