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Lesson Plans

Use this Lesson Plan with the following health topics or with other relevant content from the textbook:
  • Diseases
  • Asthma
  • Immune System

Reading Skills Lesson Plan: Cause and Effect
Student Resource: "Asthma: Stopping Attacks Before They Start"
Media Type: "Article


After completing this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Identify factors that can trigger asthma attacks.
  • Describe medical treatments for this disease, as well as measures the asthmatic can personally take to reduce the number and severity of attacks.
  • Explain how good patient skills and personal responsibility can improve the life of an asthmatic.
  • Apply the reading skill of cause and effect to an article on asthma prevention.

Introducing the Lesson

Remind or explain to students that the body's immune system is its main defense against invasion from attack by disease-causing agents. Ask if they can name a disease starting with the letter A that is the result of the immune system being fooled into taking action that harms, rather than helps, the body. Some students will likely say AIDS. Acknowledge that this answer is correct. Then reveal that there is another disease that fits this description. Its name is asthma.

Note that researchers have determined that asthma is an autoimmune disease, one that causes the person's own immune system to work against the body. Add that in the case of asthmatics, certain "triggers" cause the immune system to send an alarm to the lungs, which then overreact by shutting down. This makes it impossible for the person to breathe. Reveal that students will presently read an article that explains this process in detail, as well as actions that can be taken to improve the lives of asthmatics.

Teaching Strategies

On the board, write the sentences "My alarm clock didn't go off" and "I was late for school." Note that a cause-and-effect relationship exists between these two statements. Say that a cause is a reason or explanation for something that happens. An event is the thing that happens. Have students tell which sentence on the board is the cause (the first) and which is the effect (the second).

Point out that some effects have more than one cause and vice versa. Challenge students to come up to the board and add other causes for the event named (e.g., "I stayed up late the night before") and other events that can result from oversleeping ("I missed the first-period history test I had stayed up studying for").

Explain that in the article students are about to read, they will learn about cause-and-effect relationships pertaining to the disease asthma. Hand out copies of the article.

After students have completed the reading, you may either use the following as class discussion questions or assign them as individual or group work.

Follow Up

  1. Comparing and Contrasting. Based on the pre-reading class discussion and information in the article, describe the effects of a gust of cold air on (1) the lungs of an asthmatic and (2) the lungs of a healthy person.
  2. Analyzing. The article mentions a number of triggers of asthma. Name four of these triggers. Explain the cause-and-effect relationship between the triggers and the disease asthma.
  3. Synthesizing. In what way are the inhalant medications used to treat asthma the cause of a positive effect? Are they ever the cause of a negative effect? Explain your answer.
  4. Critical Thinking. Causes and effects are often linked into chains in such a way that an effect itself becomes the cause of something else. Identify all the causes and effects in the following event chain.

    Paula, an asthmatic, is having pizza with friends. Someone nearby lights up a cigarette. Paula begins to cough and wheeze. Her friend goes to get her water. In the meantime, Paula takes a puff of her steroid inhaler. Her symptoms grow worse.

  1. Extending. The American Medical Association has advised Americans to develop good patient skills by becoming more involved in their own health care and taking increased responsibility for their own well-being. How could this advice be extended to asthmatics? Support your answer with specific facts from the article.

Developing a Cause-and-Effect Chain for Another Disease

The cause-and-effect relationship can be seen not only in asthma but also in virtually all diseases. Select another non-infectious disease discussed in your health text. Determine:

  1. The possible causes of this disease (including other diseases that can lead to it).
  2. The effects of this disease on the body and overall health of the individual.
  3. The effects of various treatments on the symptoms of the disease.

Diagram your findings in a cause-and-effect chain. Your chain may be a flow chart, or it can consist simply of grouped boxes connected by arrows.

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