Black Death: Teacher Manual

By Shelagh A. Gallagher, Ph.D.

Order Code: 7195

The Teacher Manual for the Black Death problem-based learning (PBL) unit contains detailed instructions on how to implement the unit. It describes how to conduct the project, how to help students develop problem-solving skills, and how to guide students to consider all sides of the situation.


National Association for Gifted Children Curriculum Award-Winner!

Black Death is based on the plague that devastated Europe in the mid-fourteenth century. The place is the northern Italian town of Lucca, and the year is 1348. Reports of the Black Death have reached Lucca. It has been marching north through Italy, laying waste to one community after another. In Florence, more than half of the city is dead or dying of the disease—and Florence is not that far away.

In this unit, the students have been called as government officials to an emergency meeting to decide what the people of Lucca should do. They complete lessons that help them assess the level of risk they face, determine when the plague might arrive in their town, and consider what might happen if it does. The information available is only what was suspected at the time—that foul vapors carried the disease through the air, for example, instead of fleas. This creates a situation in which the students must use logic and rational thinking to try to save the townspeople against a terrifying unknown, and it ultimately leads to interesting conversations about how medical professionals approach new diseases today. The unit culminates with a presentation by the students to the town’s Council of the Elders of a plan to keep them as safe as possible.


Problem-Based Learning
Black Death Problem-Based Learning Unit
Teachers & Schools
History, Problem-Based Learning, Problem-Solving
Downloadable Materials
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